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Basic Dog Training

"Nothing in Life is Free"
(Adapted from Denver Dumb Friends League and [Human Society of the United States|

Does your dog:
Get on the furniture and refuse to get off?
Nudge your hand, insisting on attention?
Refuse to come when called?
Defend their food bowl or toys from you?

"Nothing in life is free" can help. It is a way of living with your dog(s) that will help them behave better because they trust and accept you as their leader and better understand their place in the "pack."


The "Nothing in Life is Free" Approach:

  • Using positive methods (lots of praise and treats), teach your dog some basic commands such as "sit," "down," and "stay."
  • Now that your dog is learning those commands, you can begin to practice "nothing in life is free." Before you give your dog anything (food, toys, attention, a walk), your dog must perform one of the commands she has learned. For example: 
    • YOU put your dog on a leash to go for a walk;
      DOG must sit until you have put on the leash.
    • YOU feed your dog;
      DOG must lie down and stay until you've put the bowl down.
    • YOU play a game of fetch;
      DOG must sit before and each time you throw the toy.
    • YOU open door to let dog out;
      DOG must sit and stay until you open door and signal "OK" for dog to go out.
  • Once you're given the command, don't give your dog what she wants until she does what you have asked. If she refuses to perform the behavior, walk away, come back a few minutes later, and try again. Be patient, it may take awhile for your dog to understand that she will only get the good stuff when she complies.
  • Be sure your dog knows the command well and understands what you want. Several short practice sessions throughout the day will help. So will praise and treats.
  • Patience, consistency, and lots of praise will help your dog WANT to do what you ask.


The Benefits of this Approach:

  • This will help your dog understand that you are the leader, a leader who is kind, fair, and FUN!
  • This approach helps control the "pushy" dog who is always seeking your attention, gives confidence to the shy or fearful dog, and neutralizes dogs who are challenging their guardians for the leadership position (guarding food or toys, ignoring commands).
  • Your dog will be welcome all sorts of places because she is so well-behaved.
  • Training helps forge a tighter bond between you and your dog.

For help with training, contact Bloomington Animal Care and Control for help. Ring 812-349-3492 or visit the shelter at 3410 S. Old State Road 37, Bloomington, IN 47401.'s quote of the day
"Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want."
-Joseph Wood Krutch

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