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What is "Nothing in life is free" dog training approach all about? (NILIF or NILF)

Updated on June 19, 2011
Rottweiler puppy - 4 months.
Rottweiler puppy - 4 months.

This is the approach we knew we would be taking with our new Rottweiler puppy even before she came to us.

Nothing in life is free , or NILIF, is an approach that helps to reinforce your position as a leader, and your pup's place as a follower. It is an important strategy to consider, especially, if you are planning to get a large dog, or one of the breeds that are known to be strong-headed. This training can start at any point in dog's life, and if you begin to recognize that your dog often chooses not to listen to you, NILIF can be just the answer you've been looking for.

The main principle behind it: your pup gets nothing, until they have complied with a request from you.

You are giving your dog a treat? Ask for a sit or a down . No compliance - no treat. Walk away, come back soon to try again.

They want to jump on your furniture? (this is a personal preference, even though in our house, no matter how much our pup twirls and no matter how many paws she gives, she is not getting into our bed): ask for paw .

They want their favorite toy? Ask for a roll-over .

They want you to play with them? Ask for a down first.

They want for a door to open to hop into the yard? Ask for a hand-touch .

They are ready for their meal? They must sit and stay until you release them, in order to get their food.

NILIF is much more fun to practice if your dog can perform more than 3 tricks, but with young dogs it takes time to build a repertoire. However, most puppies have no problem with mastering sit , and it can be something to fall back on until they learn more commands.

A word of caution: be careful not to ask of your dog to perform a command that they have not learned and mastered yet. This will result in frustration and disappointment for both of you, and in no way will it reinforce your place as a leader of the household.


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    • Bukarella profile image

      Lyudmyla Hoffman 6 years ago from United States

      Why wouldn't it promote good relationship with a dog? Everything in this method makes the dog want to behave well, it never forces any of the behaviors through fear or correction. :)

      My Ella is, as they call them, "a velcro dog". If I leave the room - she follows. If I go to the bathroom - she'll wait by the door. She is clearly attached to me, and I never felt neglected in our pet-owner relationship. She's much loved, almost never crated since she's been 6 months old, she is played with and walked daily. We bond through daily walks, play, agility and training sessions (which in Ella's language all mean "toys and treats"). Her life is not lacking love or affection, just because I expect her to sit before I open the door, or because I ask for a down, before she gets her marrow bone.

      This may be a no way to raise a child lol, but it sure works for a Rottweiler! :)

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 6 years ago from United States

      Gee, I'm sure the method works with some dogs, but ... I doubt if it produces a loving pet-owner relationship. Any thoughts?