Plenty in Life Is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace

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Over the past two decades, countless dog trainers across the world have embraced the liberal use of positive reinforcement. Often accompanying this trend, however, is an underlying emphasis, inherited from more coercive models of dog training, that each human in the family must be the dog's leader. Adopting the role of leader through the use of “Nothing in Life is Free” training protocols, however, can result in stifling rules that constrain people's ability to share affection with their dogs. Strict reward-rationing regimens also tend to put the burden on dogs to “earn” all their privileges instead of placing the primary responsibility on the humans to be generous, precise, creative “feeders” (i.e., reinforcers).