“Nothing In Life Is Free” Dog Training

Annoying Dog Behaviors, Blog


Sometimes your dog’s attitude gets a little out of line.

You will need to follow a policy called “Nothing In Life Is Free.” The policy means your dog should learn to earn everything!

They become pushy, bossy and controlling. Teach your dog manners and respect starting from day one.

Just because you love your dog and they are cute and cuddly, does not mean that they get to skate through life without rules or responsibilities. Bosses don’t hand out paychecks because their employees are nice people. Bosses hand out paychecks because their employees did their job.

You need to teach your dog that all rewards come when tasks are completed.  Rewards can be petting, praise, treats, playtime, access to something they want or attention of any kind.

The more you make your dog work for the things they want, the better behaved they’ll be.

Think of a kid who throws a temper tantrum in the store because they want candy. If the parent gives them the candy to shut them up, what has the child learned? The child has learned that their bad actions get them rewards.  You do not want your dog to learn the same bad behavior.

Dogs that bark at their owners to engage in a game of fetch or jump to get attention are like the unruly child in the store. They demand attention. If you don’t make your dog work for their play and attention, you’ve taught them that they can act up and still get rewarded.

Examples of “Nothing In Life Is Free”:

1) Your dog should earn things like their meals. Ask your dog to sit and stay, so you can put their bowl of food down without them jumping up and spilling the bowl all over.  When your dog has shown you they can be calm while you put the food down, you can release them from their stay so they can eat their meal.

2) Your dog should work for playtime. Your dog should not be allowed to bring a toy over to you, drop it and start barking to get you to play or toss the toy. That is considered a rude and pushy dog. Instead, ask your dog sit and stay while you pick up the toy or toss it. When you’re ready, release your dog and let them get the toy.

Teaching your dog that they need to work for the things they want also teaches them how to have better impulse control. You want to teach your dog how to think before they react.


3) Your dog should sit politely for petting or any attention. Your dog should not be allowed to jump on you or your guests to say “hi” and demand attention. Ask your dog to sit and stay or use the “off” cue to get your dog to put four paws on the floor before they get attention.

4) Your dog should learn to sit at the door before they go out. Your dog can earn access out the door when they are calm and sitting. You can give them the release word to allow them out the door. Dogs that jump on the door do not display good manners and need to work on their door chores. You want to teach your dog that sitting or earning access outside is better than acting out.

Once you have started to establish that all things are earned and “Nothing in Life is Free,” you will start to see that your dog will show you more respect. The dog will have better impulse control and even better manners.

Don’t reward your dog’s demanding behavior, make them work for everything.

What does your dog do to make you work for them (by accident)?

Michele Lennon

About the trainer 

Michele Lennon

After spending 20 years helping families with their dogs face to face as a professional dog trainer, Michele realized that so much of what she knows could be shared with families everywhere - in a way that actually works. People sometimes think their dog is just SUPER difficult because the advice they’ve gotten was incomplete, confusing or just wrong. So she set out to help. Michele loves training dogs because of the impact that it has on the families she gets to help.  The peace and joy they get from being able to enjoy their dog LISTENING. Besides teaching classes, helping private clients and running seminars, Michele is also a foodie and fantasizes about being a food critic or secret shopper for restaurants.  Talk to her about food and your instant best friends.

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