Does your dog get on the furniture and refuse to get off? Nudge your hand and insist on being petted or played with? Refuse to come when called? Defend his food bowl or toys from you?
If so, a training technique called "Nothing In Life Is Free" may be just the solution you're looking for. "Nothing In Life Is Free" is not a magic pill that will solve a specific behavior problem. Instead, it's a way of living with your dog that will help him behave better because he trusts and accepts you as his leader and is confident knowing his place in the family.
YOU Put your dog's leash on to go for a walk
YOUR DOG Must sit until you've put the leash on
YOU Feed your dog
YOUR DOG Must lie down and stay until you've put the bowl down
YOU Play a game of fetch after work
YOUR DOG Must sit and "shake hands" each time you throw the toy
YOU Rub your dog's belly while watching TV
YOUR DOG Must lie down and roll over before being petted
Animals who live in groups, like dogs, establish a social structure within the group called a dominance hierarchy. This dominance hierarchy serves to maintain order, reduce conflict, and promote cooperation among pack members. To ensure that your home is a safe and happy place for pets and people, it's best that the humans in the household assume the highest positions in the dominance hierarchy. Practicing "Nothing In Life Is Free" gently and effectively communicates to your dog that his position in the hierarchy is subordinate to yours.
From your dog's point of view, children also have a place in this hierarchy. Because children are small and can get down on the dog's level to play, dogs often consider them to be playmates rather than superiors. With the supervision of an adult, it's a good idea to encourage children in the household who are eight years or older to also practice "Nothing In Life Is Free" with the family dog.