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Last update: 10/13/04
NILIF MADE SIMPLE
- Avoid circumstances that elicit the aggression -- at
least temporarily. Later you'll be able to work on desensitization, but only
after you've gotten the dog's cooperation, not resistance.
- Maintain an aloof attitude toward the dog. This is
accomplished quite easily by crating the dog (or isolating it from the family
in a small area with a babygate). This crating will be 90% or more of the time
for a few weeks. This seemed to make Gypsy much more willing to do ANYTHING I
wanted her to when she was out -- she was so thrilled to have ANY attention
that she was beside herself.
- Two-three times a day for 3-5 minutes maximum
practice QUICK sits and downs for food. (If you don't know how to train this,
go to a class.) You are working for speed and attitude here -- so reward
correct behavior generously with praise and food. If your dog has fear
problems, ignore or minimize the need for corrections. Don't make these
training sessions a chore -- they should be fast and fun, not a battle. When
the dog is IMMEDIATELY and CONSISTENTLY and with ANTICIPATION obeying the
commands, she is ready for the meat of the NILIF program. Gypsy does the most
lightning fast downs I've ever seen -- as fast as a border collie crouches
when herding sheep.
- At first, priveleges are still restricted, but
you'll gradually be able to add priveleges. Don't rush things -- if you have a
bad day, just go back to the prior level where things were successful and
start over. Don't go from confinement/isolation to full house priveleges in a
day -- keep doors shut, start with limited amount of "free time". (This step
is my modification to the program, but it worked for me, so I recommend it.)
Gypsy got 20 minutes her first day -- twice.
- NILIF -- Nothing in life is free. This means the dog
must PERFORM to get anything it wants. For Gypsy, because we were trying to
reduce dominance that was already present, I chose to use the "down" command
because it requires her to throw herself into the most submissive posture
available. I have since started peppering "sits" into the program, just to
keep her paying attention -- but the dominance problem is long gone, so I'm
less concerned with how submissive she is. "Wanna cookie?" -- nothing in life
is free, so the dog must "down" on command for the cookie. (BTW -- when you
start introducing NILIF, carry food AT ALL TIMES -- you're still rewarding the
dog for submitting - this is NONCONFRONTATIONAL. Reward for a LONG time, then
wean off food sporadically, but still praise the behavior.) "Wanna go
outside?" - dog must "down". "Wanna drink of water?" -- that's right. You're
catching on. The dog gets NO freebies. She must *earn* everything -- food (you
should see her slam her body on the floor for dinner!), play, petting, water,
going out, going for a r-i-d-e, getting T-R-E-A-T-S, coming inside. Gypsy even
has to "earn" the right to work on the agility equipment ... partly because I
think it helps her attitude ("Ohboyohboyohboy, Alpha-mom made me down, I must
be about to do something Good"), and partly because she's so excited to be
there that she needs the extra control.
BTW -- there are other non-confrontational ways to
establish dominance. Ignore a dog when it tries to initiate play -- and as soon
as it gives up, you initiate the game yourself. Alpha dogs decide when the pack
plays, and when it hunts. And I do like the idea of teaching a
puppy or a dog to roll on its back and accept petting ... but it doesn't have to
be a battle. Gypsy LOVES to lie on her back in my lap ... for a time, she was
too frightened because of the more violent alpha-rolls I was using to correct
her ... but since we've started NILIF, she's started flopping down in my lap
more often (which is really cute for a nearly 80 pound dog).
I support this method wholeheartedly. Gypsy would be
dead by now if I hadn't found out about it. So -- it stays in my sig. And
whether it works because it changes their behavior and not attitude, or because
of the isolation in the beginning or the improved obedience -- I don't really
care. It worked for me.
I hope it helps a few other people too. I consider it
just one more "tool" in my training and behavior modification "toolbox" -- it's
not a magic bullet for all problems. I'll happily share it with anyone else who
cares. And lots of those who don't. :)
by L. Oleksuk