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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Doggy Zen

This is Doggy Zen, as instructed by Virginia Wind.

Doggy Zen Steps 1-10

Dog who have learned self-control are less likely to be reactive. Unfortunately the usual obedience classes don’t teach life skills like self-control so we have to do it.

The added benefit of doggy Zen is that the dog won’t try to take candy from babies!

General rules:

Always be calm.
Other than when instructed, keep your (very verbal species) mouth closed We always want to talk to “help” our dogs get it right. Self-control is best learned by the dog learning to make the right decision without interference. That’s what the clicker or marker word does, it “marks” the right behavior.
Always end on a positive.

To avoid excess typing, when “mark” is used, it means click or say your marker word.

Doggy Zen Step 1

Put a treat in your hand and close your fist.
Put your fist right in front of your dog's nose, I like to be sitting and rest my forearm on my leg.
Let the dog sniff, nibble and mouth at your hand. If the dog is mouthing hard, put a glove on. Fireplace/barbeque gloves or heavy winter ski gloves are thick enough to protect your hand.
Be patient. Dogs who have not ever learned self-control take a while to figure this out.
The instant the dog moves the head away from your fist, mark, open your fist, drop the treat on the floor and cue the dog to “go get it”.
When the dog does not mug your fist three times in a row in a cold trial, move on to the next step. Note: a cold trial is the first “trial” in a session.

If children are wandering around with food in their fists, your dog won't try to take the food from the child!

Doggy Zen Step 2

Hold a treat in your open palm right in front of the dog's face.
If the dog tries to grab it, close your fist. Do not pull your hand away from the dog.
When the dog backs off, open your fist.
The instant the dog backs away from your open palm, mark, drop the treat on the floor and cue the dog to “go get it”.
When the dog does not attempt to snatch the treat three times in a row in a cold trial, move on to the next step.

Doggy Zen Step 3

>From now on, all treats are fed from your hand, you do not drop anything on the ground.

Put a treat on the ground and cover it with your hand.
The instant the dog stops trying to get the treat out from under your hand, mark, pick up the treat and hand feed it to the dog.
When the dog does not attempt to mug your hand three times in a row in a cold trial, move on to the next step.

Doggy Zen Step 4

Put a treat on the ground with your hand right next to it. If the dog tries to grab it, cover it with your hand. When the dog backs off, uncover the treat.
The instant the dog pulls his head away from the uncovered treat, mark, pick up the treat and hand feed it to the dog.

Doggy Zen Step 5

This is the same as step 4, except wait until the dog looks at your face before you mark and hand feed the treat.
If you feel like you are waiting forever, you can make little noises (do not say the dog’s name), the first one or two times.

Doggy Zen Step 6

Hold a treat in both hands.
As you are feeding the dog with one hand, drop the other treat on the ground.
As this is difficult for everyone except the most coordinated people in the world who use a clicker, unless you have a second person to click, use a marker word.
If the dog grabs the treat off the ground, do not feed the treat in your hand, just do it again.

Doggy Zen Step 7

Drop the treat first, then feed from your hand, then pick up the treat and feed the dropped treat.
Increase the duration of the “stay”, but don’t cue the dog to stay to a count of 5.

Doggy Zen Step 8

This is the same as step 7, except wait for the dog to look at your face before you hand feed the treat, then pick up the other treat.
And it’s time to name it. “Leave it” is the most common name used, “mine”, “not yours” are also common names. It doesn’t matter what you name it as long as it is something you will say consistently, so make it something familiar and easy for yourself.

Doggy Zen Step 9

Put a wad of treats in one hand.
Drop a treat and then back away from the dog, saying “Leave it!” (or whatever you have named it), “Come!” in your happy voice.
If the dog comes with you, feed the wad of treats, then pick up the dropped treat and hand feed that.

Doggy Zen Step 10

Put some low value treats (kibble is often a low value treat) in a bowl on the ground.
Walk the dog past the bowl, staying out of leash range of the bowl. If the dog tries to get to the bowl, be a tree (stand still, no talking).
The instant the dog looks at you, mark and treat with a high value treat (steak, chicken, cheese, hot dogs, etc).
Repeat, repeat, repeat until the instant the dog sees the bowl, the dog looks at you.

10,531 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
chargeing the clicker

This is an addition, can be used with any training

Charging a Clicker

1. Get a clicker

2. Charge the clicker. Cut up 60-80 scrumptious treats, small and easily swallowed. Get comfortable, click and treat thru all 60-80 treats. Try to get the treat to the dog within one second of the click. You only have to do this once.

For training treats, cheese, boiled or baked liver or hot dogs can all be used.

12,761 Posts
Loose Leash Walking Using Positive Reinforcers

I would like to take credit for the techniques listed within, however, I would be remiss if I did not mention Karen Pryor or Dr. Ian Dunbar as propagators for these methods…at least for me they were. This is one method among many to help teach loose leash walking. For the visual learners, I’ve included a link to Karen Pryor’s video on loose leash walking. To those of you who pay the 5 bucks to view the video, my attempt is to make this thread a companion guide, as many of the same techniques and steps follow along with the video. Let me also state that I have no affiliation to the website linked, nor do I make any money for promoting it. However, if Karen Pryor would like to send me a check for each referral, I’d gladly accept it. ;)

ClickFlicks -- Loose Leash Walking :: Dog training videos for download from Karen Pryor Clickertraining

Let’s see how complicated I can make these simple techniques…

What do I need? You’ll need a flat collar, 6 ft. leash, a treat bag (optional), a bridge word, and a positive attitude.

What’s a “bridge” word? A bridge word is the connection between a behavior and the dog’s reward, signaling a reward is coming. Bridge words help to wean the dog off food, teach the dog to focus on you rather than the treat, and improve your timing. It needs to be short, distinct, and enthusiastic. For this example, I would suggest using a word like YES!, and will simply state BT for “bridge and treat”. You could use a clicker for your bridge, but as critical as teaching loose leash walking is, let’s keep it simple and our hands free by using a bridge word instead.

Tip #1: Don’t feed your dog before the walk…feed the dog on the walk – a hungry dog is an attentive dog. Bring great food (stinkier the better) as well as his normal meal – you are competing with the environment!

What are you competing with? Other dogs, fire hydrants, squirrels (Elsa’s favorite), kids, trash, the rustle of leaves, the whisper of the wind…the list can go on and on, therefore, when you are first teaching these techniques, your rewards (food) needs to be of high value to your dog. Kibble may be enough for some dogs, but for those especially non-food-motivated pups, stinkier is a must.

Why do dogs pull? Dogs pull because they can. What we seem to forget as humans is that a dog has a separate agenda different than our own. We don’t want our dog to pull, it can hurt their necks, but pulling gets the dog where it wants to go…there in lies the problem and we have to distract them from their agenda with our secret weapon, food (the reinforcer). If we can teach the dog that pulling gets no reward, but walking nicely can…viola, you can make it out the door.

Will I always have to use reinforcers? NO! At first it may seem so, because you need to, but as your dog progresses, rewards will be offered variably, randomly, eventually hidden and faded. Some dogs can enjoy walking so much that the walk alone can be a reinforcer.

How should my dog be acting before we start on the walk? Before attaching the leash, your dog must be sitting and patient. A round of fetch before walking may be needed to burn off excitable energy. If you don’t have time for this, a simple 6 ft. leash may be enough if attached to the collar and looped under your dog’s belly and crossed over the top of his back…a leash made no-pull-harness. Gentle Leader’s Halter collar or Easy Walk harness are also alternatives to prevent your dog from practicing pulling. Always consult with a professional on how to use these aids correctly.

Where to start? Start in a quiet setting free from distractions. Start with short intervals, and start with fun in mind. Most people will probably start inside their own home.

Step 1: With your dog attached to leash and sitting, stand facing your pup. Back-up and encourage your dog to follow by offering a treat every couple of steps. Keep the leash loose and offer rewards for the loose leash. We all know that dogs like to chase, so the backwards motion helps to keep their attention. I would recommend practicing Step 1 for a few days before moving on to Step 2, and time rewards such that the leash is always loose.

Tip #2: Don’t be penny-pinching with the rewards in the beginning. The rapid fire rewarding will help to keep your dog focused on the most importing thing in the world…you! This will also help to teach other behaviors later down the road.

Step 2: Now that your dog has begun to follow you easily, begin walking forward.

Tip #3: Reinforce the side you want your dog to walk on by offering treats only to that side…for this example I’ll choose left. This means keeping your free hand (left) at your side and holding the leash with your right hand. If you were to offer treats with your right hand while your dog is on your left, it will cause your dog to cross in front of you…that’s a no no, and it could be a hard habit to break.

Tip #4: Keep your leash short enough that you can reach out and touch the dog (about 2-3’ long). It may help to knot the leash where you want to keep your hand, so you don’t “reel in” the leash as the dog gets closer.

Now practice moving forward only if and when the leash is loose, and not before you have your dog’s attention. Take a few steps forward offering rewards as you did in Step 1. Repeat this 5-10 times then move to a new location, and build up on the number of steps required before reward, daily. Practice 2-3 sessions a day for no more than 10 minutes at a time.

What if my dog lags behind? You either don’t have a high interest food, poor timing, you’re not animated enough, or you’re in a too high distraction area.

But my dog still pulls, now what? Perfect! Now you have an opportunity to teach your dog that pulling never works. If your dog begins to pull during any point of a session, stop in your tracks. This is called “becoming a tree.” Keep your feet rooted into the ground and let your dog run into the end of the leash. Stand still until the leash becomes slack, then BT for attention and begin to walk again.

I don’t know CP, I’m a sycamore and my dog is still pulling, what now? I’ll ask a question back…what are you doing with your arms? Are your feet in place, but your arms are following the dog? You can be a better handler then that! If your dog continues to pull despite being a tree, gather the leash and hold it up against your waist, with both hands, to shorten up the line. This will reduce the freedom to roam and narrow down the area where he can find your attention again. BT when your dog comes back to you attentive and the leash is loose.

12,761 Posts
Step 3: Now that you are successful moving forward, practice changing directions. Turn your back on the dog and step away, when he goes to your side, praise for a couple of steps while he is next to you, then BT. Notice I said “praise” for a couple of steps before BT…praise is saying enthusiastically “good boy”, or “that’s right little guy.” We’re working on the start to eliminating treats. If you lose the dog before you are able to BT, you are taking too many steps. Change locations frequently, and give a big reward (lots of treats) if your dog ignores something particularly interesting to stay with you.

Step 4: Add distractions. Start inside your home like you have the previous 3 steps. While rewarding every few steps, walk 10 times back and forth or until he continually focuses on you – in the kitchen through the living room, out the back door to the back yard, around the house, to the front yard, up and down your drive way, in front of your house, from your house to the neighbors, from your house to the neighbors on each side and so on, adding another house every ten repetitions.

Obviously only you know your dog, so only you would know what a mild or major distraction is. The ideal is to start with mild distractions and build up to heavier ones. But again, at any point your dog begins to lose attention, be a big oak, a maple, or a noble redwood tree. When you have a loose leash and attention again, take a few steps and BT, and add some distance from the distraction. You can repeat walking by the distraction at narrower distances if the distraction is willing to participate.

Being a tree still doesn’t work can I give him a pop on the leash? He’s really pissing me off. I think it’s time for you to end the session…at least until you cool down. If you’re not having fun, imagine how your dog feels to be punished for what comes naturally to him. If a distraction is too much, simply flip a 180 and walk the other way...your dog won’t have a choice but to follow you. Distractions are minimized with distance. Again, if the distraction is a willing participant, practice walking closer with a loose leash, continue to BT until your dog forges ahead, then turn around. Add more distance with each repetition instead of nagging him for attention.

Tip #5: Practice Step 4 a lot. You can practice with distractions if you can find a willing participant and a favorite toy in your backyard. I recommend a 5 year old and a squeaky toy. If you can get your dog to keep a loose leash up until you reach the child and toy, reward him with play. With practice, you can gradually set up all kinds of distractions around your home by adding more toys, chew treats, food bowls with food, or kids at play, along your practiced path. Just don’t forget to use distance to your advantage until your dog can handle them all.

Step 5: Practice out in the real world. If you can pick locations that are not likely to overpower your dog’s attention…this would be the ideal. An early morning walk at your local park, while everyone is still asleep and sun breaks, paints a great picture of an ideal setting for that first long walk.

Just remember that distractions are likely to happen, regardless of how well you plan your excursions. At those times practice walking away and praising your dog as soon as you have his attention again. In the same breath, if your dog surprises you, reward him generously with affection…because that’s what it’s all about, right?

That’s it! This is probably the longest post I’ve ever written...it’s not as easy to write in words as I thought, but I do hope many of you will find it to be useful. There are other methods out there to teach a dog to walk at heel, but I’ve found none to be more in sync with how I believe a dog should be treated than these. Please let me know if this thread is worthy of being stickied, and if anyone else has any valuable tips, please do share. Good luck and happy walking.

10,531 Posts
Rev Up/Cool Down

Here's the Rev up / cool down exercise as explained by Virginia Wind

note: this is part of a larger word doc, so the format may look a little silly here

HELP! My Puppy/Dog is Chasing My Children!

IMPORTANT: never, ever leave a child alone with a dog. Ever.
Fixing the Problem with Rev Up/Cool Down

1. When no children are present, run around like a maniac and get your pup to chase you for about 15-30 seconds.
2. Dead stop and be a tree (this means no talking). If your pup jumps on you, stop near a wall so you can brace yourself if your pup is big and you need to brace yourself. Turn away from the pup when the pup jumps.
3. The instant the pup settles, mark and treat.
4. Repeat, repeat, repeat until the pup is settling the instant you dead stop.

IMPORTANT: you must not coax, lure or otherwise cajole the pup into settling. For this to work, it is critical that the pup learn to make the right choice.

5. Dogs don’t generalize, so do this in lots of places.
6. Dogs don’t generalize, so wheedle every adult you know into doing it with the pup.
7. When the pup is settling instantly in lots of places with lots of adults, then with close supervision, do it with your child.
8. The instant the pup settles, call the pup to you and heavily reinforce. This means 10-20 treats fed one at a time with lots of praise and petting.
9. Repeat, repeat, repeat until as soon as the child dead stops, the pup runs to you
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10,531 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Training Dog to Greet Politely

As instructed by Virginia Wind:

Teaching Your Dog To Greet People Politely

One of the most common problems is that dogs lunge towards people. When that happens, we, embarrassed that our dogs are “out of control”, jerk the dog back and yell at the dog.

Big mistake. Dogs don’t speak English and we can’t explain to them why we are correcting them and if your dog associates the correction with a person approaching instead of the lunging, you can create a human aggressive dog. This happens a lot more than people realize.

“Uh oh!” Here comes a person, I’m going to get jerked and yelled at. I’m going to growl to warn the person to stay away so I don’t get jerked and yelled at.”

And then of course, we are even more upset when the dog growls and jerk harder and the cycles escalates. (Even though we should know to never correct a dog who is growling because we always want to know when the dog is warning us so we don’t get bitten.)

It is very simple to teach your dog to greet people politely. You will need accomplices because it is impossible to teach manners in real life, you need to set the dog up. Your accomplice can be a family member to start, although you will eventually need around 10 accomplices because dogs don’t generalize behaviors well and it takes about 10 people before the dog generalizes the behavior.

1. The accomplice should be about 20’ away from the dog. If you can’t hold the dog, tether the dog. Tie the lead to a tree, slam it in a car door, do whatever is convenient because if the dog pulls you forward, it’s going to take much longer to teach.
2. Cue the dog to sit.
3. The accomplice starts to walk towards the dog. You are a tree, which means no talking or moving, the dog will learn much better if you don’t interfere (scientifically proven).
4. If the dog gets up, the accomplice dead stops and you wait. When the dog is giving you attention, or after about 30 seconds, get the dog’s attention by tapping the dog gently on the butt and cue the dog to sit again. This is the hardest time for humans who are a very verbal species, to be quiet, but it is the most important time for us to be quiet, except to get the dog’s attention if necessary and cueing the dog to sit.
5. The accomplice starts forward again. If the dog gets up, the accomplice dead stops, etc.
6. If the dog gets up 3 times, the accomplice turns and goes back to the “start” about 20’ away.
7. When the accomplice is able to walk all the way to the dog while the dog remains sitting, have a party like there is no tomorrow! The accomplice should pet and praise the dog for at least 20 seconds. If the dog gets up, don’t worry about it at this time, however if the dog jumps, the accomplice must immediately turn away from the dog.
8. Repeat with every family member and friend you can wheedle into helping. When the dog remains sitting, have your accomplice start talking as the accomplice walks towards the dog. This increases the distraction level and even if your dog was rock solid, your dog may get up when the accomplice starts talking.

Talking is an added distraction and very likely to happen in real life, but you start teaching with a quiet accomplice because you teach in steps so the dog can be successful at each step. If you ask too much of the dog, the dog will fail and you never want to set your dog up for failure.

Have the accomplice increase the talking and use a high squeaky voice to get the dog excited, but because you are teaching in steps, don’t add the
high voice until the dog is rock solid sitting with a calm voice.

9. The dog should be kept at home until the behavior is solid. Then the dog can go to the pet store or for walks. When a stranger approaches, politely ask the stranger to help you train your dog and to please stop if the dog gets up. Cue the dog to sit and have the stranger approach. I did this with a Mastiff puppy and everyone was very cooperative. In fact, he loved attention so much that eventually if he thought a person was coming towards him, he would automatically sit. If the person passed him by, he would look so disappointed LOL!
10. Patience, consistency, teaching in steps and letting the dog figure out what the right behavior is are the keys to success!

Copyright 2002 Virginia Wind

10,531 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Meet Me in the Middle – The Best Way To Introduce Dogs

Training article by Virginia Wind

Meet Me in the Middle – The Best Way To Introduce Dogs

Parallel Walking and Arcing (ala Turid Rugaas)

Parallel walking is the best way to introduce dogs to each other. Sometimes dogs will get along right away, but it is always better to be safe than sorry if you have the opportunity to be safe.

You will need an open area; parks are good places for this. Empty areas of parking lots are also good, or even a quiet street can work.

Start at the same end with about 40’ between the dogs if possible. If 40’ is not possible, then be as far apart as you can. If either of the dogs reacts to each other, move further apart.

Note: “react” does not necessarily mean lunge and bark. Watch the other dog – if the other dog doesn’t like what the dog making a fuss is doing, you’ll know the dog making a fuss is reacting. If the other dog doesn’t care, the dog making a fuss is not “reacting”. Dogs always know when another dog is serious, we don’t.

What to do: if one dog is making a fuss, and the other dog is not concerned, do not reprimand the dog who is barking/lunging. Be a tree. Stand still. Be quiet. Wait. The dog will eventually stop making a fuss (I promise! I know it will feel like forever, but it won’t be forever). What the dog has just learned is that barking and getting excited around another dog causes –nothing- to happen. This is a very good thing for a dog to learn.

Walk in parallel to the “end”, the “end” should be a comfortable distance, this is not a marathon. Then turn and walk back. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Let the dogs look at each other, let them stop and sniff the ground and look around. This is a very casual walk, always with nice loose leashes. Dogs are much more likely to be reactive on a tight leash.

Slowly move closer and closer together as you turn at each end. Watch the dogs for any signs of stress or reactivity.

When you are about 10’ apart, then one person stays at one end and the other person walks to the far end because it’s time to start arcing.

Start walking directly towards each other. When you are about 20’ away from each other, start arcing towards your right so as you pass, the people are between the dogs. Each of you makes a semi-circle so when you pass there is about 20’ between you. Then you arc back to the middle and walk in a straight line.

Go to the “end”, turn and come straight towards each other again. Slowly get closer and closer before you start arcing and slowly decrease the arc so that you are passing about 3’ from each other.

The dogs will probably be showing friendly interest in each other or not be paying much attention to each other and you’re done.

Grazing (ala Pam Dennison)

If you think a dog has any food aggression, do not use grazing!

You will need a somewhat large area, having 40’ between the dogs to start is good, but this works in smaller areas, as long as they can safely be held away from each other if there is a problem.

Both people start tossing food on the ground. In reactive dog class, we use cheese balls, big puffy orange snacks, because it’s very easy for the dogs to see them.

Let the dogs start snacking. Slowly toss the treats closer and closer together. Eventually the dogs will be eating right next to each other.

Because the dog’s heads are down, the dogs are “not a threat” to each other and will calmly accept each other.

Note: At any sign of aggression (watch the dogs tail positions for clues and watch the other dog for a reaction), move the dogs further apart by tossing food further apart.


1. Neutral territory is always better than the resident dog’s property. A neighbor’s lawn, the sidewalk a few houses away, any place you can utilize is better than the resident dog’s property.
2. Taking a walk is always better than not taking a walk with the dogs. Dogs learn a lot about each other just by walking with each other.
3. Outside is always better than inside. If there is no alternative, use the resident dog’s yard. If possible use an unfenced part of the yard. This allows dogs multiple escape routes and is less stressing.
4. Lighted areas are always better than dark areas.
5. If there is no alternative and the dogs must meet in the house, do it in a room with more than one entrance/exit if possible.
6. If there are multiple dogs in the home, introduce the most submissive dog first and go up to the more dominant dog last. The lower ranking dogs are warning system and if the scaredy cat dog(s) accept the new dog, the higher ranking dogs will usually accept the new dog with no problem.

Key Points

1. Always proceed slowly. If you rush things or are impatient, the dogs can pick up on your tension. Take lots of deep breaths, relax and use the time to observe the dogs observing each other so you can learn more. Observing dogs is the best way to learn about dog behavior.
2. If a dog is making a fuss, remember to watch the other dog. The other dog will always know if the fuss is a threat or just a fuss.
3. If a dog pulls, be a tree. Stand still. Be quiet. The dog will eventually stop pulling and will learn that pulling means that nothing happens.
4. Keep the leads as loose as possible. So many dogs are reactive on tight leads that there is a book written about it.
5. Get “Calming Signals” book and video by Turid Rugaas and observe and learn from her. For example, most people think that when dogs are stiff while being sniffed by another dog, this is “scary”. It’s not. The stiff posture while allowing other dogs to sniff is telling the sniffing dogs “I’m not a threat”.

Copyright 2003 Virginia Wind

12,761 Posts
NILIF (nothing in life is free)

Nothing in Life is Free
Undesirable behavior can be caused by many things, including undetected illness. No behavior modification program should begin without first taking the dog to a veterinarian for a complete physical examination. While you're there, give your vet a printed copy of this page and ask if it would be an appropriate technique for you to try. The NILIF program is an accepted standard in dog training/behavior but it is not, and is not intended to be, a substitute for an in-person, professional evaluation of your dog's behavior. This technique is intended for dogs in good health and of sound mind and stable temperament.

The NILIF program is remarkable because it's effective for such a wide variety of problems. A shy, timid dog becomes more relaxed knowing that he has nothing to worry about, his owner is in charge of all things. A dog that's pushing too hard to become "top dog" learns that the position is not available and that his life is far more enjoyable without the title.

It is equally successful with dogs that fall anywhere between those two extremes. The program is not difficult to put into effect and it's not time consuming if the dog already knows a few basic obedience commands. I've never seen this technique fail to bring about a positive change in behavior, however, the change can be more profound in some dogs than others. Most owners use this program in conjunction with other behavior modification techniques such as coping with fear or treatment for aggression. It is a perfectly suitable technique for the dog with no major behavior problems that just needs some fine tuning.

The program begins by eliminating attention on demand. When your dog comes to you and nudges your hand, saying "pet me! pet me!" ignore him. Don't tell him "no", don't push him away. Simply pretend you don't notice him. This has worked for him before, so don't be surprised if he tries harder to get your attention. When he figures out that this no longer works, he'll stop. In a pack situation, the top ranking dogs can demand attention from the lower ranking ones, not the other way around. When you give your dog attention on demand you're telling him that he has more status in the pack than you do. Timid dogs become stressed by having this power and may become clingy. They're never sure when you'll be in charge so they can't relax. What if something scary happens, like a stranger coming in the house? Who will handle that? The timid dog that is demanding of attention can be on edge a lot of the time because he has more responsibility than he can handle.

Some dogs see their ability to demand attention as confirmation that they are the "alpha", then become difficult to handle when told to "sit" or "down" or some other demand is placed on them. It is not their leadership status that stresses them out, it's the lack of consistency. They may or may not actually be alpha material, but having no one in the pack that is clearly the leader is a bigger problem than having the dog assume that role full time. Dogs are happiest when the pack order is stable. Tension is created by a constant fluctuation of pack leadership.


Your dog already knows that he can demand your attention and he knows what works to get that to happen. As of today, it no longer works, but he doesn't know that yet. We all try harder at something we know works when it stops working. If I gave you a twenty dollar bill every time you clapped your hands together, you'd clap a lot. But, if I suddenly stopped handing you money, even though you were still clapping, you'd clap more and clap louder. You might even get closer to me to make sure I was noticing that you were clapping. You might even shout at me "Hey! I'm clapping like crazy over here, where's the money?". If I didn't respond at all, in any way, you'd stop. It wasn't working anymore. That last try -- that loud, frequent clapping is an extinction burst. If, however, during that extinction burst, I gave you another twenty dollar bill you'd be right back in it. It would take a lot longer to get you to stop clapping because you just learned that if you try hard enough, it will work.

When your dog learns that the behaviors that used to get him your attention don't work any more he's going to try harder and he's going to have an extinction burst. If you give him attention during that time you will have to work that much harder to get him turned around again. Telling him "no" or pushing him away is not the kind of attention he's after, but it's still attention. Completely ignoring him will work faster and better.

As the human and as his owner you have control of all things that are wonderful in his life. This is the backbone of the NILIF program. You control all of the resources. Playing, attention, food, walks, going in and out of the door, going for a ride in the car, going to the dog park. Anything and everything that your dog wants comes from you. If he's been getting most of these things for free there is no real reason for him to respect your leadership or your ownership of these things. Again, a timid dog is going to be stressed by this situation, a pushy dog is going to be difficult to handle. Both of them would prefer to have you in charge.

To implement the NILIF program you simply have to have your dog earn his use of your resources. He's hungry? No problem, he simply has to sit before his bowl is put down. He wants to play fetch? Great! He has to "down" before you throw the ball. Want to go for a walk or a ride? He has to sit to get his lead snapped on and has to sit while the front door is opened. He has to sit and wait while the car door is opened and listen for the word (I use "OK") that means "get into the car". When you return he has to wait for the word that means "get out of the car" even if the door is wide open. Don't be too hard on him. He's already learned that he can make all of these decisions on his own. He has a strong history of being in control of when he gets these resources. Enforce the new rules, but keep in mind that he's only doing what he's been taught to do and he's going to need some time to get the hang of it all.

You're going to have to pay attention to things that you probably haven't noticed before. If you feed your dog from your plate do you just toss him a green bean? No more. He has to earn it. You don't have to use standard obedience commands, any kind of action will do. If your dog knows "shake" or "spin around" or "speak" use those commands. Does your dog sleep on your bed? Teach him that he has to wait for you to say "OK" to get on the bed and he has to get down when you say "off". Teach him to go to his bed, or other designated spot, on command. When he goes to his spot and lays down tell him "stay" and then release him with a treat reward. Having a particular spot where he stays is very helpful for when you have guests or otherwise need him out of the way for a while. It also teaches him that free run of the house is a resource that you control. There are probably many things that your dog sees as valuable resources that I haven't mentioned here.

The NILIF program should not be a long, drawn out process. All you need to do is enforce a simple command before allowing him access to what he wants. Dinner, for example, should be a two or three second encounter that consists of nothing more than saying "sit", then "good dog!", then putting the bowl down and walking away.

Now that your dog is no longer calling the shots you will have to make an extra effort to provide him with attention and play time. Call him to you, have him "sit" and then lavish him with as much attention as you want. Have him go get his favorite toy and play as long as you both have the energy. The difference is that now you will be the one initiating the attention and beginning the play time. He's going to depend on you now, a lot more than before, to see that he gets what he needs. What he needs most is quality time with you. This would be a good time to enroll in a group obedience class. If his basic obedience is top notch, see about joining an agility class or fly ball team.

NILIF DOES *NOT* MEAN THAT YOU HAVE TO RESTRICT THE AMOUNT OF ATTENTION YOU GIVE TO YOUR DOG. The NILIF concept speaks to who initiates the attention (you!), not the amount of attention. Go ahead and call your dog to you 100 times a day for hugs and kisses!! You can demand his attention, he can no longer demand yours!

Within a day or two your dog will see you in a whole new light and will be eager to learn more. Use this time to teach new things, such as 'roll over' or learn the specific names of different toys.

If you have a shy dog, you'll see a more relaxed dog. There is no longer any reason to worry about much of anything. He now has complete faith in you as his protector and guide. If you have a pushy dog he'll be glad that the fight for leadership is over and his new role is that of devoted and adored pet.

©1999 Deb McKean

10,531 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Greeting Politely at the door

Thank to Virginia again, by popular demand!
Teaching Your Dog To Greet People Coming Into Your Home Politely

Especially for those of us with more than one dog, our visitors can sometimes be overwhelmed! It’s very easy to teach your dog to be polite when people come into your house.

You will need accomplices because it is impossible to teach manners in real life, you need to set the dog up to be successful. Your accomplice can be a family member to start, although you will eventually need around 10 accomplices because dogs don’t generalize behaviors well and it takes about 10 people before the dog generalizes the behavior.

Note: if you have more than 1 dog, you have to teach each dog individually. When each dog has a solid behavior, then pair 2 dogs and try it. Sometimes they will get each other aroused, so be patient. If this happens, work with them individually for a little longer.
  • The accomplice goes outside and rings the doorbell or knocks and continues to ring the doorbell/knock while your dog jumps around, barks, etc. while you are a tree and remember trees don’t talk. (This is the annoying part (grin)).

  • The instant your dog settles, the accomplice stops ringing/knocking. You call the dog, cue for a sit and heavily reinforce – 10-20 small, easily swallowed treats, fed one at a time. Note: it never is useful to be stingy with food – make it really worth it for your dog to calm down and it will happen faster.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat in 5-10 minute sessions until your dog is automatically running to you the second the accomplice starts ringing/knocking.
  • Once the dog is running to you automatically, now it’s time for the accomplice to enter.
  • The dog should be sitting by you. The accomplice turns the doorknob. If the dog gets up, start over. Repeat, repeat, repeat until the dog is sitting while the accomplice turns the doorknob.
  • Baby step from turning the doorknob to opening the door 1”, 2”, 4” etc. until the dog remains sitting while the accomplice enters the house.
This sounds long and complicated but once your dogs understand the ‘game’, it goes very quickly. You want to proceed in small steps so that your dog can be successful at each step. If you ask for too much at once, your dog will fail. This is one of the 3 major reasons people can’t train their dogs – they ask for too much at one time. Human babies do not go from a crawl to a run. They stand up first, then take a step, often holding on to something, etc. Give your dog the time to learn in the same small steps.
  • Repeat with every family member and friend you can wheedle into helping.
  • Patience, consistency, teaching in steps and letting the dog figure out what the right behavior is are the keys to success!
You can also cue your dog to go to a specific place, her bed, his crate or anywhere you want. If you choose to use a place, then instead of calling the dog to you, toss a wad of treats on the place/in the crate.

Your dog will run to her place as soon as she hears someone at the door after lots of practice.

Copyright 2007 Virginia Wind

10,531 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Targeting AKA "Touch"

Thank You again Virginia!!!

Targeting 101

1. Hold your hand in front of the dog’s nose. You may need to shape the behavior a little bit so if your dog even looks at your hand, mark and reinforce. Repeat about 3 times, and then ask for more.

2. If your dog’s head moves towards your hand, mark and reinforce. Repeat about 3 times, and then ask for more.

3. If your dog’s nose touches your hand, mark and reinforce.

4. Repeat, repeat, repeat. When you dog is reliably touching your hand, name it. “Touch” is a common name. Don’t name it until the dog is doing it correctly, you don’t want your dog to think that stare at me, stare at my hand is “touch”.

5. Start moving your hand around a little bit, off to each side, up, down and further away. As your dog is touching your hand with her nose, say “touch”.

6. When your dog is chasing you all over the yard, going through your legs, behind your back, etc., then say “touch” and hold out your hand.

Do this for about 5 minutes a session.

Be really, really, really happy! “Touch” is a cue that can be used to get your dog’s attention, for some reason, most dogs really love this game, so make it the most fun that you can.

Copyright Virginia Wind 2007

10,531 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Be a Tree

More Great advice from my Friend Virginia Wind!

Be A Tree

Dogs are excellent at reading body
language which is one reason that I prefer to be a tree because once a dog gets
the concept, being a tree can be used for a myriad of problems: jumping, elbow
nudging (especially when you’re holding a cup of hot coffee!), pawing, begging
at the table or any other pesty behavior.

To be a tree:

1. Cross
your arms in front of your chest
2. Turn at least ¼ turn away from the dog

3. Look away and slightly upwards
4. Keep your mouth shut. We are a very
verbal species but trees don’t talk.

For example, if a dog is jumping
up, be a tree. Ignoring the dog is the worst thing you can do, no one ever wants
to be ignored!

If you push the dog away your arm motion is like the
front legs of a dog when the dog is playing and ‘boxing’ and the dog might think
you are playing and that will only positively reinforce the jumping.

you talk to the dog, the dog who is jumping to get attention is getting
attention and so talking, even yelling NO!!!! is what the dog wants and the
jumping will be positively reinforced.

Even more important is to
remember that if the dog comes up to you and doesn’t jump, make sure the dog
knows what you want and give the dog lots of attention! It’s always easier for a
dog to learn to do something (come up to people without jumping) than it is for
a dog to learn to not do something (don’t jump).

We often forget to make
sure that we positively reinforce the behavior we want because we don’t think
about it when the dog does it right.

If you are sitting at a table or in
a chair and the dog paws or begs for food, instead of turning, twist your upper
body away from the dog.


This will probably not work
the first time. Stay in tree position until the dog gives up and goes away. If
you give in to the dog, even once, you are a slot machine and instead of
stopping the behavior, you are making it stronger...oops!
People sit at slot
machines all day (the dog keeps jumping) because sometimes money comes out
(sometimes the dog gets the attention he wants, even bad attention like NO!),
even though money rarely comes out (even though your dog rarely gets any

If money never came out of slot machines, no one would put
money in. So, if your dog never gets any attention, your dog will stop jumping.

Once your dog understands the body language of ‘be a tree’ for one
thing, it’s easy to start being a tree for all the pawing, nudging, etc. that
your dog might do. It will take a few times to sink in, but the dog will learn
faster each time.

Sometimes dogs are so reinforced for jumping that
being a tree doesn’t work very well, although you can still use it for pawing,

If your dog’s jumping is not starting to decrease in frequency and
you don’t see your dog hesitating before jumping and sometimes not jumping after
a while (be patient, it will take some time!), then you try using your hands.

Its best if you can move before the dog launches herself, but if not, do
it as fast as you can.

Keep your hands low because raised hands seem to
be a target for dogs, turn your palms downward and slightly outward so they are
directed at your dog and extend your arms towards your dog.

Do not push
your dog or it won’t work. If your dog jumps against your hands, try not to push
– it’s hard because pushing back is a reflex - and try not to let the dog push
you – keep your hands/arms as steady as you can, preventing the dog from getting
closer to you, even if you have to back up, the dog should be at arm’s length or
more. Keep your hands in position and look up and slightly away from your dog
and do not talk.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. And always remember to give
your dog lots of attention if your dog comes up to you and doesn’t jump.

Copyright Virginia Wind 2008
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