NILIF

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Maryellen
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NILIF

Postby Maryellen » Wed Feb 07, 2007 6:45 pm

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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.

ATTENTION ON DEMAND
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.

EXTINCTION BURSTS
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.

YOU HAVE THE POWER
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.

ATTENTION AND PLAY
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

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mydogsarethepits
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Postby mydogsarethepits » Wed Mar 14, 2007 2:56 pm

:goodpost:

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neef
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Postby neef » Fri Mar 16, 2007 11:21 am

this is workin wonders on our 9 wk old pup...

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Postby sueb » Sun Mar 18, 2007 6:23 pm

I have three questions about NILIF. It sounds perfect for our new dog, Casey, but I'm not sure how to handle food, sleeping, and sitting outside.
1. Food - We have 2 well behaved elderly dogs who share the same dish with Casey. We leave the food and water out all day and everyone just eats when they're hungry. It certainly wouldn't be fair to Socks and Zeus to start putting the dishes away so that I can make Casey sit every time she wants to eat.
2. Sleeping - Casey is crated during the day, and at night she has free run of the apartment with Zeus. Casey usually chooses to sleep under the bed, but sometimes
she gets up in the night and sleeps on the easy chair (if Zeus isn't already in it). I can make her sit before getting on it when I'm awake, but what about the middle of the night when I'm asleep?
3. Casey doesn't handle cold weather well. She likes going out, but she shakes when it's cold. snowy,or raining. On those days she doesn't like to put her butt on the ground when I tell her to sit. She kind of floats it about an inch above the sidewalk. (She's fine in the house, though)
Any suggestions as to how to deal with those issues without being unfair to the older dogs or crating her at night? I'm not too concerned about #3, since spring is right around the corner.

pibbles and bits

Postby pibbles and bits » Sun Mar 18, 2007 6:48 pm

In my opinion, your dogs have too much free range. Free food around all day can lead to unhealthy eating habits, it's hard to monitor their food intake in case they're sick, and hard to prevent fights.

As for sleeping, the dogs shouldn't have free range. It's impossible to watch them, and with three(?) dogs roaming free, anything can happen!!

NILF will only work if there is more structure in place for all dogs. Sure, it might work just doing it to one dog, but with your current practices, it's going to be difficult.

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Postby Maryellen » Sun Mar 18, 2007 7:02 pm

each dog should have their own bowls for food or water, you have a fight just waiting to happen. i didnt make up the NILIF rules, but they do work.

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Postby sueb » Sun Mar 18, 2007 10:43 pm

I'm not sure how to reply to this without sounding defensive. If I do, it isn't my intention.
I wasn't really asking how to completely change a lifestyle that has worked with our older two dogs for eleven years. I was asking if there was a way to adapt NILIF to our existing way of life - even if there are aspects of it with which you disagree.
In my effort not to write an overly long post, I did not mention that only two of the dogs are out at a time (unless my husband is home to help supervise). Casey and Socks are usually separated. If my husband is home and all three dogs are out, the food and water dishes are put away. Three is too many to eat at one time.
As for sleeping, Socks has a whole room to herself because she has long since passed her puppy chewing phase. I don't mind her being locked up at night because she's got an entire room to herself. Casey is crated all day because she's young and still apt to get herself into mischief. I can't imagine crating her all day when I'm at work and then crating her all night, as well. She'd be caged for more hours than she was free. That's just cruel, IMO.
I do think that NILIF is a good technique. We have already started using aspects of it with Casey and it seems to be working. Zeus, whose manners were already impeccable, is starting to sit for his leash and before he goes out because he keeps hearing us tell Casey to do it. (Socks is deaf now, she's oblivious).
Thank you for your advice.

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Postby Maryellen » Mon Mar 19, 2007 7:05 am

oh dont worry , you are not sounding defensive!! what you can do is do the NILIF with the dog that is giving you problems. it can be done, i do it with 2 of the 3 dogs here, and it works out just fine..
i would however for the one you are going to do nilif with give that dog a separate feed and water bowl, and not let her free feed anymore.... it will be 2nd nature once you do it for a little bit...

as far as crating, i would only crate as necessary.. if she has an entire room to her self that is fine.. no need to double crate daytime and nighttime...

as far as the bed,make her sit, or down, or paw or something before she can get onthe bed. you dont do it the entire night , as you will never get any sleep that way.. just the initial up on the bed routine make that a nilif routine... once you are asleep, and if she jumps down and then comes up again dont worry about it as you are asleep... no need to be awake all night doing nilif with her..

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Postby bonezmama » Wed Mar 28, 2007 9:14 pm

I have been practicing this method with my pittie since day one, but how do I teach my husband and mother that this method works. They are "old school" so they really don't believe in dogs being in the house,let alone beds, but my baby is my baby, and seeing as how my husband is often out of town, I assure him that if he were to spend time letting Bonez know he is boss by training him correctly, (IE: my way) Bonez would respect him more. I weigh all of 115 lbs and have complete control over my 1 year old 65 lb pit, while my husband weighs 200 lbs, and Bonez drags him down the street. Bonez also waits for my command to do anything including listening to the other adults in the house. Mind you, he has no problem listening to my 6 yr old daughters when they tell him to sit, stay and come. My mom has a 7 month old chihuahua- pomeranian mix who listens to uhhhh no one! and she is constantly yelling at her dog which is frustrating the crap out of me.........and now that she lives with me she has resorted to yelling at my dog, and so now i have to battle with 2 adults who know nilche about dogs, yet they are destroying all the progress i have accomplished with mine. Any suggestions on how to correct this- i own my own business, so i'm not home for 10- 12 hours a day.

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Postby Maryellen » Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:13 pm

can you show your mom some nilif on her dog? so that she can maybe actually see the results? sometimes, people have to see the results to see that it works..

you must get hubby and mom to do what you do with your dog, as with 3 people telling him different things he will slack back on the training you gave him.

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Postby Maryellen » Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:14 pm

also, tell your mom to stop yelling at your dog.. its your house, not hers. tell her that yelling does nothing,and try to show her how you train bonez..

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Sashapit11
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SO I've a couple of questions,..

Postby Sashapit11 » Sun Apr 08, 2007 5:44 pm

I have been working with the NILFF program with Sasha. We have been making her sit everytime we walk through a door, not letting her charge through first. She has been asked to sit and stay for her food and water, and has to be called and invited to the bed or couch, with the exception of actual nightime bedtime. then we just let up (is that bad?) So in following the point of my post is, she has been premptively sitting before we give the command, is she just smart, well behaved or does she think she is incontrol of the situation?


PS she has been a lot less nervous in general since we started this,.. Thanks!

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Postby Maryellen » Sun Apr 08, 2007 5:54 pm

she is learning that if she sits she will get what she wants, which is good. my 3 will auto sit before dinner and stuff, as they learned that if they dont they dont get what they want.. if they sit, or do what i want, they get what they want.. if she is less nervous, it is working, and she is learning that you are in charge.. this is very good!

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Sashapit11
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Sweet! She's such a good girl!

Postby Sashapit11 » Sun Apr 08, 2007 6:43 pm

Now here comes a crate/ no crate issue. Sasha is 6-7 months or so, she is home alone for very short time periods. 1-3 hours max. She is walked generally before we go leave. She has not been crated ever before. So during this time she has full run of the apt. Is this going to damage her training? And how come she can manage to dooky three times and pee during this three hour period, when while we are there with her she doesn't? probably not the place for those questions but hey,.. why not.

PS yesterday she freaked me out, she had stood up to the counter and took one of our knives out of the sink and turned into a chew toy,.. the plastic handle part,.. I think we need to crate her,.. :oops:

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Postby Maryellen » Sun Apr 08, 2007 7:35 pm

Now here comes a crate/ no crate issue. Sasha is 6-7 months or so, she is home alone for very short time periods. 1-3 hours max. She is walked generally before we go leave. She has not been crated ever before. So during this time she has full run of the apt. Is this going to damage her training? And how come she can manage to dooky three times and pee during this three hour period, when while we are there with her she doesn't? probably not the place for those questions but hey,.. why not.

PS yesterday she freaked me out, she had stood up to the counter and took one of our knives out of the sink and turned into a chew toy,.. the plastic handle part,.. I think we need to crate her,..



are you feeding her before you go out? if so, dont. no water and no food before you go out. i would tire her out in the morning before you leave, so that she just wants to sleep. she is also too young to be left free roam at 6-7 months old, technically she is still a baby, so she should be confined to one room or crated. she doesnt go potty when you are there because you are watching her, and when you see her signs you take her out..


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