Discussion in 'Dog Products' started by SD&B, Jun 7, 2012.
Has anyone read the book Plenty in Life is Free by Kathy Sdao? What did you think of it?
Never read it! Never heard of it.
I've heard of NILF dog training, (Nothing In Life is Free)
where taking away free access to toys is supposed to help a dog, which i could not disagree with more. To me, "Free access to toys all the time whenever a dog wants to play is bad for dogs" is yet another one of those theories that ppl hear often enough, even by top trainers, so they figure it must be right.
but i disagree. (oh, big shocker, i disagree with a popular idea! say it isn't so! )
I think toy play is therapeutic to dog,
increases their creativity,
gives them ways to burn off energy,
could save one's sofa from being gnawed on,
and helps reduce boredom in an indoor dog.
Gnawing his toys keeps my dogs teeth gleaming white, and i hear, for his age, he should be showing some yellow by now.
Toy play even provides exercise and mental stimulation for my dog. Wow, he really gets a work out herding his baskets around....and around....and around.....it's a big joy for my dog, who has no sheep.
I even witnessed what i am pretty darn sure is some form of "pretending" when my dog plays!
Also, i find his toy play fascinating. Whenever he has been around one of his doggie pals, Buddy will spend rest of day playing with his giant toy bear, side by side, 24/7, dragging it around right beside him, the rest of the day,
sitting with it out in the sun in his yard, dragging it back indoors with him, and then leaning on it when he rests, etc etc, he keeps that bear right beside him if he has played with another dog that day. I'm not sure what that is, but, it's almost like Buddy is re-enacting, with his bear, what it is like to have a friend. (my dog has few friends).
this looks like "good" stuff for my dog to be doing, who knows what is going on in that brain? He sometimes seems to be "working stuff out" or even pretending at times. How is that not good for a dog like mine?
and that's just for starters. I shudder to think how bored my dog would be, without his baskets and his toys....and when my dog is bored, it's not good.
Actually, you may like this book. I haven't read it, but it purports to refute NILIF. I was just wondering if anyone had read it and liked it and found it useful.
At the insistence of a trainer, we tried NILIF. We lasted 4 days. I think Sundog actually came close to insanity. I'm not kidding about the insanity. I think she thought we hated her and she couldn't take that. She's a hard dog, but that's the one thing she couldn't take. Luckily, that was years ago and most of the damage is undone by now.
In our house, toys are free and love and affection are unconditionally and totally free. Most food and treats are earned, except for the occasional "Manna from heaven" (food that is dropped either accidentally or on purpose).
P.S. I have a few new toys in the closet to add to the pile when I throw one away or I need an extra special treat/event.
oh wow, i really liked reading your words, i so completely understood! and agreed!
I have never tried NILF, but, i can imagine, how NUTZ my dog would be without his rich and rewarding and busy toy play. I shudder to imagine. See, thing is, boredom for my dog, is painful, and he is MUCH MUCH harder to manage if he is bored. It is just the reverse of NILF for my dog.
LIke you, my dog rarely gets treats for breathing,
Buddy does earn all treats, in part, because he is soo limited on how much he can eat per day.
If he was one of those dogs that can eat and eat and eat and eat and never gain a pound, WA-LA! THEN i might consider giving him bits of food for being cute.
but otherwise, i sort of "have to" use each bit of treats, (and sometimes, part of his meals) for training. Plus, this is noooooo strain on my dog, he LOVES doing tricks , he LOVES having something ANYTHING to do.
but yes, i so agree, my love is unconditional for my dog, and my dog needs lots of love. Never crossed my mind to withhold it. ever.
and everything i have to offer him is unconditional. ESPECIALLY TOYS, oh wow.
I do all i can to keep his toy life interesting, i hide 2/3 of his toys and rotate most of his toys around, to keep him interested in toys he hasn't seen for a while. Overtime, he stops playing with some of his nonfavorite toys, so i swap those ones out from his bag of hidden toys, to keep it "fresh"
(the giant teddy bear, has been beside Buddy, since day 1, though). His favorite toys are always in his toy area, 24/7.
He gets new toys regularly. I buy bags of them at goodwill.
He learns the names of his toys, and i praise him for toy play, and do all i can to ENCOURAGE it, as it looks therapeutic to me.
But, i did use forward progress as a reward for not pulling on leashes, etc. So maybe that falls into "conditional" access, not sure. But, on the other hand, i am pretty darn good to give my dog a chance to run full speed off leash every day, to be a free dog running free.
my dog has issues, but, it is NOT result of his having toys to play with to keep him sane, nor for giving him attention and love and my time. I snuggle my dog whenever i feel like it, too! Just cuz he is cute and a sweetiepie and that is that!!
I, too, have begun to question what "they" say. I am looking at things more in light of my own common sense. I think about whether it is valid, as opposed to the way it's supposed to be. Sometimes I don't really know. But at least I'm thinking for myself, at least a little bit.
I think - I enjoy the company of my dogs and I want to give them love and affection. So I do. I give them toys. Sundog just has to have a toy with her at all times when she is home. Barney loves the occasional tug or chase or steal from Sundog. It's all mentally and physically stimulating and is not out of control (no dog fighting, no aggression, etc...). Life is too short. We should all enjoy it as much as we can. Including the dogs. And their enjoyment brings me enjoyment.
Exactly!! How is bumming out a dog going to "help" anything? I so agree, it is about joy and fun! and love.
The more of that stuff (joy and fun and love) a dog gets, the better off he is, imo.
I do keep some toys special (a fetch toy, a football, squeaky tennis balls, frisbee) so that they retain some novelty value, the rest of Zac's toys are "free". Zac isn't a toy obsessive (unless another dog has the toy), Gus is toy obsessed and we spend our lives ankle deep in toys and items he has "liberated".
oh yes, RunningDog, i "get that" entirely!!
i do same thing, with one toy, to use as special reward for tricks well done, like you say---- to keep that toy "special" to the dog.
but in NILF, they put forth, that a human should not be affectionate, or give toys to, a dog who has behavioral issues, to try to increase the human's control and "leadership" of the dog, and i think their final goal is, then, the human, having so much "power" to the dog, can more easily control the dog. Supposedly, the dog will try harder to "be good" to earn that precious attention from their human. I could be misunderstanding their program.
I do not mean withholding affection if dog is currently acting up at that very moment----- they mean all day long, til the unwanted behavior is eradicated, or maybe only giving affection if dog does something right to earn that love. I could have the concept wrong, though.
see, i don't buy that, (IF that is a correct understanding of NILF, and it may not be correct understanding at all). I freely am affectionate to my dog, even though my dog still reacts to most unknown dogs in a way i dislike, still, i love that Buddybudman to pieces.
Still, Buddy gets toys, and love, and as happy and fun of a life as i am able to provide, regardless of the fact he IS a gangsta.
Even gangsta dogs need love, joy and fun, and, maybe they need love even more than a 'normal' dog, who knows.
I haven't read it, but want to. I'm a big fan of Kathy Sdao, so most likely I'd like it.
As for NILF, I practice it a lot with my dogs, and I practiced it really (almost) committedly and firmly with a previous GS (now at the Bridge) I had. I adopted her with behavioral issues, and we had a long (and often trying) journey together. I worked with a fabulous trainer, who said NILF was perhaps going to be the only way we could co-exist - and that proved to be true. It didn't mean she got any less affection, toys, anything else. It just meant I asked her for something even as simple as a "sit" before she got *most* things. Did I ever just pet her cuz she came to me and wanted it - heck yes! Nothing is absolute in this life - but she had a very strong personality/termperament and she would have run the house (and me into the ground) if things had progressed the way they were going for the first few mos after I adopted her. She had tons of toys, and had (I believe) a really fun life. But she was also a dog who needed a job, and who needed to work for what she wanted. Heck, we all work for what we want!! Affection wasn't withheld, nor were toys (my house has always looked like a doggie toystore - toys everywhere, watch where you step!), etc - but before dinner was put down, before petting starts, etc - I'd ask for maybe a 'sit', or a 'shake', or just something - and then let the good times roll. It also helped shape her into a dog with wonderful manners (from a dog I adopted at 18 mos old with not one manner to be found).
thanks for explaining your version of NILF, so besides what SD&b and I do, (asking for a behavior for all, or almost all bits of food) what else did you differently?
You also asked for a behavior prior to meals? I do that sometimes, but not all the time.
And you DID give the dog free access to toys to play with? Or, you'd ask for a behavior, THEN give her the toy for rest of day?
The only diference i can spot, between what i *think* i am understanding from Jackie's post,
and my post (reply#4) is Jackie asks for a behavior prior to setting the dinner down (i don't always do that) and a behavior prior to setting toybox out for the day....or, did i miss something? I freely admit, i may have misunderstood, if there was yet another difference in how you, (Jackie) and i, handle toys and affection for our dogs.
see, most of what i read on NILF, seems to be recommending that a human does not offer affection for no reason,
that a human should not pay attention to the dog unless the dog performs some trick or cue first,
but, perhaps, there are different versions of NILF...?
that would explain why Jackie could allow her dogs toys, and could give free unconditional love to her dogs, maybe there are different versions of NILF....
//Heck, we all work for what we want!! //
i hear your point, i do.
but, i spontaneously kiss my kids on their heads, for no reason, other than my heart turned over when i look at them. I do the same for my dog, and my sweetie.
I make meals, and feed them, whether or not they were all wonderful that day or not. If someone else is cooking, i get some of the food, whether or not i did anything marvelous that day or not.
My family gives me love, as well, even on days i might not have 'earned' it!! those tend to be the days i need it most!!
I do not treat my dog any differently, on days he is a gangsta, than on days he is "my good boy". Buddy gets toys, love, attention, outings, chances to run free, whether he was good**, or not!!
(**NOT that i am not also working to train him, and desensitize him to be calm around other dogs, no, i sure do keep at it, but except for those exercises------- one day to Buddy is just like the next, whether he won his battle to be calm, or not---he still gets fed, loved, fawned over, played with, snuggled, etc).
I do think love, joy and fun ARE free, come to think of it.
food? maybe food is not so free, maybe that is why i do use most of the food Buddy gets in a day to train him. He does do tricks for every treat all day long.
i do think training, in and of itself, has endless benefits to a dog,
to the bonding between a dog and a human in both directions,
to amping up that notion "i can earn treats from this human!" idea,
to getting dog focused on human, and vice versa,
or, like Jackie pointed out, "learning manners",
to siphoning off excess energy, and providing mental stimulation,
to giving a dog a feeling of worth, of satisfaction, of having a chance to use his mind, getting a chance to accomplish something, the joy of pleasing his human,
on and on...........
just endless list of bennies for both human and dog, when training is being done.
Perhaps I practiced a very 'soft' version of NILF. I'm sure there are harsh trainers out there who recommend all kinds of methods restricting affection,toys, etc - that was never suggested by ours. I had 4 dogs at the time (only one at the time I adopted Heidi, but soon after I picked up a very pregnant stray - and ended up with her and 11 puppies for the next few months, and kept 2 of the puppies). Anyway - that made (eventually) two 60 lbs dogs, and two 80 lbs dogs -- and she was one of the 80 pounders. And female. She clearly was the alpha female in the pack, with 3 very easy-going males (thank goodness for that!). She was a very intense German Shepherd, poss working line, who needed a job - and with a very bad start in life. Had she been fortunate enough to have had a better start, she possibly could have had a career in police work, Seeing Eye, SAR, etc - instead of spending her first 18 mos caged, frustrated, and unsocialized. Don't ask. Anyway, we had a long road and lots of hard work. She had a tendency to be very pushy and demanding. It was because of this, that our trainer suggested the NILF - you want something, you give me something first. Did she have to perform like a circus animal? Never. But asking for a 'sit' before she dove into dinner, or a 'shake' when she came seeking pets wasn't too much to ask. Did I ever pet, hug or kiss her without a sit? Heavens yes. Affection will always be exchanged between my dogs and me whenever I feel it's appropriate (and she slept on my bed - another no-no for lots of trainers). Sometimes with her tho, it wasn't always convenient or appropriate, and she could get demanding - she was a tough one). Their toys were always available, my house has always looked like a doggie toy store, the floor is always a mess. Toys were never withheld. I guess *with us* I asked her for something simple, in exchange for simple things. But it gave her a job (sort of), helped her to learn manners and self-control, and also helped to maintain "law and order" among the ranks.
I believe she had a really good life that included the usual stuff most (lucky) dogs get - usual play, ball, etc, walks, dog parks, hiking, walks at the beach, doggie play dates, sleeping on my bed, etc - and she lived with 3 other dogs. She was a very intense girl, and honestly, I think she liked the "extra work" in exhange for whatever it was she was after. She loved jobs, she loved to learn, and I only wish I knew as much then as I do now (she'd have known so much more!). I think you can use NILF in a benevolent and kind way - or you can use it in a harsh and cruel way, like most anything. I hope I'll always be accused of leaning more towards the 'soft' side, rather than some kind of meanie.
And - SD & B, you got me in trouble, made me spend $. I had been meaning to read Kathy Sdao's book, and went and took yet another look at it on Amazon and just ordered it. Can't wait to get it - I'll let everyone know how it is.
Just to clear up a bit here - there are basically a few types of NILIF, some harder than others - but the original program was based on who initiated contact - not restricting it. Here are a couple of quotes that may help. It has been a really misunderstood program I think. It is only meant to be a problem solving tool - not an entire way of existence.
For those people who have dogs that challenge them or are demanding - I have seen it work well as a training aid...in conjunction with other training...this program is not designed to say that everyone who has a dog that solicits petting should use it - only those who feel their dogs are out of control and they have no way of reaching them.
Quoted from http://k9deb.com/nilif.htm
I also like Sue Ailsby's LEADING THE DANCE
Just clarifying - haven't used NILIF for probably 8-10 years but it has a place as an alternative to yanking and shock collars...
//It was because of this, that our trainer suggested the NILF - you want something, you give me something first//
I tend to do this also, if Buddy comes begging for att'n, (he is not a pesterer by nature though, is very respectful dog) i sometimes ask for a cue prior to playing with him, but, because my dog did NOT have that exact issue, i don't do this every time, but, i can certainly see where that IS a good plan for demanding dogs.
it just didn't strike me as a form of NILF, exactly, though, but, maybe you are right, maybe that IS a form of NILF and i just did not realize it.
//Perhaps I practiced a very 'soft' version of NILF.//
yes, i think so, i've read a bit more about it, and i do think, Jackie, that maybe you did use a "soft" version of NILF, since you did not ignore your dogs etc. Either that, or i am misunderstanding what NILF really is.
to *me*, asking for a trick for his treats, is just a way to use food to teach tricks.
or asking for trick prior to complying with my dog's requests is just 'normal' dog "manners" training, which could be more necessary for the demanding dog you rescued, Jackie, than it was for my dog, who IS pretty respectful dog....but, it's not impossible i do not reeeeally understand NILF.
THIS interview with Kathy Sado might be contributing to my misunderstanding of NILF: http://www.clickertraining.com/node/3476
//I hope I'll always be accused of leaning more towards the 'soft' side, rather than some kind of meanie.//
lol, Jackie, even *I* know that much about YOU, and i have never ever met you!! I know enough about YOU, Jackie, to stand here and accuse you of being a bit of a softie lovebug of dogs!!
//Just to clear up a bit here - there are basically a few types of NILIF, some harder than others -..........................[...].............It is only meant to be a problem solving tool - not an entire way of existence.//
AH HA!! see, i have NOT been entirely understanding that, but, i sort of wondered if there might be "different forms" of NILF.
//this program is not designed to say that everyone who has a dog that solicits petting should use it..................................only those who feel their dogs are out of control and they have no way of reaching them.//
THIS makes total sense to me. I don't see how this NILF would help with shy dogs, or dog-aggressive dogs, though....???
but i can easily see where some ideas of NILF might help with demanding dogs!! Lol, just last week someone was asking about she tires of her dog demanding att'n, and wondered if it is okay to play with him when he asks, and i told her to consider asking for a trick, and then rewarding the trick, instead of the excitement. I just did not realize THAT was NILF.
SO, i can see how NILF could be helpful to demanding dogs.
is there any OTHER behavioral issues BESIDES demanding dogs that NILF is helpful for?
I can not see how it would help a shy dog, or a dog-aggressive dog.....Obviously, if a shy dog, or a d.a. dog was ALSO demanding, yes yes, NILF could help with that one separate issue, of being a demanding dog.
but otherwise, my brain can not think of any other issues that asking for a trick prior to giving att'n would be helpful for....???? I'm all FOR trick training, AND general dog training, (SEE REPLY #4,)
i am also all for solving specific problems each dog may have, and desensitization work, etc.
But although i DO recognize the overall value of training dogs, i just don't see general dog training as "NILF" though...i think if one did only NILF, without also training their dogs, it'd probably be less effective...
I wonder why on the aggressive dog boards, so many of them run to NILF, and take away all toys, bones, att'n, etc. The "hard" form of NILF i guess. I wonder if those ppl realize, NILF is for demanding dogs, not dog-aggressive dogs or shy-aggressive dogs.....
but Those ppl rarely report much success though, and are amazed i can EVER walk Buddy by an unknown dog**, ever, and sometimes seem to doubt that i actually CAN accomplish that some of the time.
**Note, i can NOT do it every time, and on a good day, it's probably only about 60% to 70% of time, NEVER 100% of time......yet, but Buddy gets a lil bit better every year, and i won't give up. Lol, i very well might be wasting my time, and THIS might be as good as Buddy will EVER get, but, i won't give up............. but nothing i do with Buddy is in any way related to NILF, so far as his dog-aggression goes.
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