So, what is NILIF and why have I listed it as a Training Tool? Well, because I believe it is something that trainers should use (or at least try) and also that it is just as much a Training Tool as a Clicker (follow up post on this later). With NILIF, you may be using food, toys or attention as your rewards, but they are still tools to be used at your (the trainer's) discretion.
NILIF is an acronym for Nothing In Life Is Free. What does this mean? Well, it means that everything the dog receives, eats, everywhere he goes, etc is earned. Here's the basic break down: (if you want details, go to the link above)
- Every time the dog gets a cookie or a meal, he has earned it
- Every time you touch or pat the dog, he has earned it
- Every time the dog wants to go through a doorway or gets up on a piece of furniture he has earned it
- Every time you play with your dog it is because he has earned it
I have seen time and time again how well this training works with rescue dogs and I've also seen it work well with pets people have had from the puppy age. NILIF is a wonderful base that you can build on with most other training.
So many people I know are looking for ways to help them bond with their dogs. People want to feel closer to their dogs and they want to feel that there is a link between them. NILIF is one of the many great ways to do this.
It can teach the dogs that they are important in your eyes and that you are aware of every little thing that they do. It's like the mom who knows when the kids are getting into trouble even when they are in another room ... how does she know what we were doing?!
Some of what I have mentioned in earlier blog posts is that your dog should want to be with you. How do we accomplish this? Why would the dog want to be with you? You teach the dog that it is a good and rewarding thing to be with you, whether that means that they are rewarded with an item or with praise, you still have to teach them that these things are good and that they come from the handler. Remember - behaviours are learned habits and/or reactions.
NILIF can give you a good base or foundation to build your future training routine on (such as those immediate recalls and the building of desire to be with you). If you have already had your dog for a while, you can still introduce NILIF - your dog can and will learn. Sometimes something as simple as NILIF can give a dog enough of a challenge, stimulation and excitement in its day to prevent a few bad behaviours - it's a win-win situation for both you and your dog!
Why don't you give the NILIF a try and see what it does for your dog and you? Do you already use NILIF? What experiences have you had with it? What is your opinion?