Bernese Mountain Dogs - Breed Information & Education for Puppy Buyers, Owners and Breeders

Nothing in Life Is Free ~ Leadership without Confrontation

Whether you call it "Nothing In Life Is Free" (NILIF) or "Work to Earn", or "Say Please", the basic premise of these protocols is the same. It is a non threatening behavior program designed to teach your dog that you are the one to make all the important decisions in his life. This is not a one shot quick fix to all behavior issues, but it provides a strong foundation with regard to the dog/human relationship and successful behavior management. If NILIF is started at an early age, unwanted pushy and rowdy behaviors can be avoided and you will have a well mannered happy dog. Berner says please

Dogs need and want structure from a leader. However, dogs must understand and accept that we humans are the leaders and we make all the social decisions in the house. If no boundaries are set, if there is no direction or discipline from the human, the dog will assume the leadership role. Dogs don't perceive their unruly behaviors as inappropriate. Once in charge, they may possibly (more probably), discipline the way they know best: with their teeth.

If we choose to live in the company of dogs, we need to establish effective communication. In order to do this, we must translate our rules in a way that makes sense to the dogs so they understand what we want.

► N.I.L.I.F is a *leadership without confrontation* behavior management program. This training program teaches your dog to trust and respect you without out turning your relationship into a boxing match. More importantly, your dog learns to rely upon you and trust your judgment for their safety and as a result, your dog will be less stressed. We love and care for our dogs. We have the right to ask for social deference from them. This is all accomplished by teaching a simple obedience request such as "sit".

★ Getting Started ★

Bernese-looks-upIn order for your dog to receive any privilege, he must learn to say "Please". The way for your dog to ask "please" is having him offer a simple obedience task.

For example, if you are on your couch and your dog wants to sit with you, have your dog sit first and hold it approximately 3 seconds. If he jumps up with out asking permission, escort him off the couch. Ask him to sit. You sit on the couch while he is holding your sit request. Now invite him up. Eventually, you wait for him to offer a sit voluntarily. His reward for complying can be anything from sitting beside you on the couch or a life reward such as his food bowl, a favorite toy or running off to chase birds.

Practiced routinely, your dog will learn to ask permission (by sitting first) before receiving anything from you; food, treats, a pat on the back, a belly rub, a bowl water, putting on a leash, taking off a leash, before you open the car door, before he gets brushed, going in/out of the house, before being permitted to hop up on the bed, chair or sofa.

It may sound simple. It is! More importantly, dogs comply because they are rewarded for their behavior. Consistency is important. Anyone and everyone who interacts with the dog must request the dog to be "polite" and say "please".

When you offer real life rewards that are very meaningful (going to the park, receiving dinner or just a ride in the car) you will be amazed how quickly your dog "gets it" and you will see changes in his behavior and his manners as a result of learning to ask "permission.

Helen Hollander, CPDT
The Educated Pup, LLC
Lawrence, L I, NY
Nationally Certified Member Certification Council of Pet Dog Trainers