Often I will watch a dog and guardian interact as the dog slowly manipulates the guardian. When I see this behavior and enlighten the guardian they are typically shocked to find out what is going on. They hadnít realized that they were acting as their dogís servant. Giving your dog control of the decisions can turn bad very quickly. So how do you take back control of your life?
Simply by making and enforcing rules in your home. You will not give your dog affection when they are nudging for it; you will pet your dog when you decide to pet your dog. Your dog will eat when you decide, go out when you say so, play ball when you decide it is time to play and receive a cookie when you say so. By implementing these simple rules you take the lead; you can be the boss of your own life once again.
No more handing out food for free; your dog has to work for food. A simple sit for a meal is easy but a rule nonetheless. They want to play ball? They will have to wait until you are in the mood and initiate a game. Pack members who are not the leader; do not make any rules. You would never see a lower pack member demand attention from an Alpha Wolf. If and when the Alpha wolf feels like giving attention, that is when the lower pack members receive their attention and not before.
Making the rules takes only one thing away from your dog; and that is control. They will still receive attention, treats, playing, walking and mealtime but when you say; not when they demand them from you. The one thing to be aware of is that implementing NILF on a dog that is accustom to getting what they demand typically results in the behavior becoming worse before it gets better.
When a simple stare at the cookie cupboard usually resulted in a cookie; now all of a sudden it does not. This may cause your dog to stare longer and even start to bark. But hold strong and do not give in; it will soon start to diminish. And any attention can be good for a dog, even bad attention will be taken as attention; so ignoring is on the menu for most demanding attention seeking behaviors.
A behavior that is not rewarded in ANY way will soon disappear. A behavior that results in a reinforcement, being food, praise, a ball will be offered again. This will be turning around before you know it.
Happy Friday ;)