If you are part of any dog forums online you will at some point heard of 'Nothing in Life is Free' or 'No Free Lunch'.
When I heard about NILIF the article I read tried to say that you should teach your dog to wait for you to exit a doorway first because if the dog came out first the dog would think it was dominant or in charge. I believe when a dog pushes out the doorway ahead of you, the dog is thinking "Heck yeah! We're leaving! I'm so excited I must push past you!" Using the nothing in life is free policy, you teach your dog to 'wait', you put them in a sit, and exit the doorway first. I feel mostly this teaches the dog impulse control, that it isn't all about them and what they want to do - more about what you want them to do.
I read an article that talked about wolves in the wild. It talked about how a wolf might have a rabbit, another wolf comes along, rolling around belly up acting all shy and submissive. The wolf with the rabbit pays no mind and the wolf slinking closer steals the rabbit and takes off!! Dogs are much like their wild relatives - they are opportunists and will take advantage of a good opportunity.
I do think there are some cases of dominant behavior. If your dog stands over you while you lay in bed and is growling every moment you move, I would view that as dominant behavior. I would say that is a pretty rare instance that a dog displays that kind of behavior, but I have heard of it happening.
For the most part I feel like our dogs are not out to control our lives or boss us around, mostly it's a matter of teaching them how to interact properly with us by teaching them some manners and showing them what we expect from them.
NILIF is a great way to lay out some ground rules for life in your house. NILIF basics would be;
- Having your dog sit and wait for you to give the okay before it eats its food.
- Having your dog sit and wait while you exit a doorway, and exiting after you give the okay.
- Doing tricks or following commands for treats.
- Making your dog sit or down before throwing a toy or engaging in play with a toy.
- Being invited onto the couch or bed, not jumping up without permission.
I don't practice NILIF religiously in my house. For the most part, my dogs respect my space and know where they belong in the house. On occasion if someone starts being rude/unruley I will bring the NILIF back out, bring them back to square one. I think the best part about NILIF is it teaches your dog patience, and also teaches them to look to you when they want something. Instead of just taking over the couch - they are asking if it is okay.