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Blog posts from 2013

Posted on December 12, 2013

Separation Anxiety, featuring Chance

Separation Anxiety, featuring Chance

Meet Chance!

He is an incredibly sweet and adorable seven year old Beagle/Basset Hound mix. Chance's owner's contacted Zen Dog for help with Chance's separation anxiety.  Their other dog had recently passed away and Chance was now having a hard time being left alone for longer periods of time.  It had gotten to the point where the neighbors with young children who trying to nap were complaining something had to be done. 

Luckily, Chance’s owners decided to contact Zen Dog Training. We know that separation anxiety is preventable and responds well to treatment.  An important first step is recognizing that dogs with separation anxiety are not misbehaving out of spite or boredom. Just like humans, dogs have feelings and strong emotional responses. We sometimes compare severe separation anxiety to how a person feels during a panic attack: scared, confused and overwhelmed!

Separation anxiety can be triggered by a life change such as moving, a sudden change in routine, long stay at the kennel or in this case the death of a companion.  Along with the death of his dog companion, Chance was also being left for long periods of time, up to 10 hours, which was also contributing to his anxiety. 

At Zen Dog Training we have several recommendations for helping dogs with separation anxiety. The most basic is to not allow your dog to shadow you around the house.  We recommend using a baby gate or a tether while you're home and ignoring him if he's whining or barking. Doing this for short periods of time several times a day will teach him to get comfortable being "alone" when you're home.

We always recommend an increasing cardio exercise as well as obedience training. Essentially, give him new challenges to mentally stimulate and tire him out. You can also start feeding him using toys like the Premier Busy Buddy Toys, so that he has to work for his food.  Providing him feeding toys or some delicious teats when you leave will help soften the blow of being left alone.

Lastly we recommended practicing many, many short absences during the day.  Start by leaving the house for just 2-3 seconds and then coming back in.  Repeat this over and over until the dog becomes used to you leaving. Now extend the time you are gone to 10 seconds, 30, 5 minutes etc.  Mix up how long you're gone and help your dog learn that leaving doesn't always mean a long period of time alone.

With all of this coming and going try to not make a big fuss about leaving the house or coming home. Acting cool and relaxed when you come and go will help him understand that you leaving or coming home is no big deal. 

It’s important to remember that dogs are social animals and not well suited to be left alone all day. In situations where your dong will be left for 8-10 hours we recommend hiring a dog walker or doggie day care.

These tips will help with most dogs however, if you have a more serious case, please call Zen Dog Training or a professional dog trainer in your area.

For more information on separation anxiety visit Zen Dog Training Online.

Posted on December 5, 2013

Help! My Dog Chews EVERYTHING!

Help! My Dog Chews EVERYTHING!

It's a question we get all the time: "How do I make my dog stop chewing on X, Y, and Z??" The truth of the matter is that dogs are naturally inclined to chew. Dogs explore the world with their mouths the same way we explore and investigate with our hands. They also chew when left home alone because it's something they enjoy doing! The problem comes when your dog decides that it would be fun to chew up your nice new pair of shoes. So what can you do to solve the problem?

First of all, you can prevent our dogs from chewing non-dog items by keeping them all out of his reach. You can make sure to put our shoes away on a shelf when we get home. Or to put away all of your socks in the place he can't get to. If your dog likes paper, pick up a couple of trash cans with lids to keep him from getting at any Kleenex or napkins. If you need to, don't be afraid to use a crate for your dog while he is learning what he can, and can't, chew on — just put his favorite toys (such as a stuffed bone or Kong) in his crate when you leave. And remember: a tired dog is a well behaved dog! Before you leave in the morning, take your dog to the park, go for a jog, or even play fetch in the house — get him running and panting any way you can.

You also want to teach your dog what he's allowed to chew on by providing plenty of legal alternatives. Have a good variety of types and textures of toys for your dog to play with and chew on. He will be less likely to get bored with what he has and more likely to find a fun toy to play with. Also, notice what your dog likes to chew. If he tends to chew on socks or gloves, make sure he has a nice plush (but durable) toy that he loves. If he starts to devour the baseboards in your home, get him a nice hard stuffed bone or an antler to chew on. You can use they toys (especially the plush ones) to play games like fetch or Tug of War to get him interested in the new toys — and to tire him out!

To help him learn what he can, and cannot, chew on you will want to keep a sharp eye on him so you can interrupt him when he goes for something he shouldn't then refocus him on one of his toys. When you see him start to sniff or chew something other than his toy, simply tell him "uh-uh", stop him from chewing and offer him one of his own toys. If you take a minute to play with him with his toy, he'll turn his focus to his own toy more often. By using these three steps, you will be well on your way to teaching your dog what he can, and more importantly can't, chew on!

If you notice that your dog primarily chews while you are gone, or tends towards more destructive chewing, it might be a sign of a larger issue. If you have questions or are concerned please give us a call at (617) 233-5496!

To learn more about Solving Problem Behaviors, check out Zen Dog Training Online!

Posted on November 27, 2013

Socialization, featuring Shubie

Socialization, featuring Shubie

Meet Shubie!

He is a 6 month old Australian Cattle Dog mix who is super smart and very eager to learn but also extra sensitive due to his breed.  Shubie is sweet natured and curious but has found adjusting to his new home in the city with all the sights, sounds and new people a bit overwhelming.

At Zen Dog Training we recommend actively socializing your new dog or puppy. Socialization, is very important, you want to teach your dog that even though the outside world can be loud and unpredictable, it's a happy and fun place he shouldn't fear.

The idea is to socialize as much as possible, every day would be ideal, try to expose your puppy to new, non-threatening, positive situations and people.  Take him to new places: friend's homes, children's school, soccer games, the hardware store, dry cleaners, the bank...

Let your puppy meet men and women, the elderly and the young, children and babies, people in hats and men with beards.  Don't forget about cats, birds and other animals, or loud noises or strange noises like a door slamming or a bus rumbling by.  As long as you make sure your dog is safe and has a positive experience you can’t over do it!

Take extra time to bring him to the vet, to the groomer or the kennel.  Once you get there, give him lots of treats for no reason other than getting him used to going to these places.

If your puppy becomes frightened, reassure him calmly and matter-of-factly, then go on. Remember a couple of treats can do wonders in turning around a fearful situation.

Allow him to investigate and approach people, place and things at his own pace. However, when on walks, don’t avoid construction work, loud noises, fire trucks etc.  Actively approach them and give him lots of treats to make sure he feels great about seeing new and different things.

Although this process will take some time and effort it is of critical importance! If you socialize your new puppy or dog, you will have a dog who is social, confident and feels safe exploring the world by your side.

For more information on Socialization visit Zen Dog Training Online.

Posted on November 19, 2013

Training Tips for Traveling with your Dog

Training Tips for Traveling with your Dog

Planning a trip with your dog?
Traveling can be an exciting adventure for you and your dog, but a long car ride with little to no activity can also be stressful for your canine companion! Increasing your dog's activity before a long trip is a great way to make your trip a bit easier!
Tiredness can really take away from some of the worry your dog may experience during a long car ride.  Remember: A tired dog is a happy dog! Play and physical activity are great ways to exercise your dog's body and mind before a long trip. The morning before a planned trip, take your dog for a longer play session. Ideas for play and increased activity include:

  • Take him to his favorite park to play fetch
  • Bringing him to play with his friends at a local doggie daycare
  • Take a jog together around the neighborhood
  • Throw around a frisbee for him at the beach
  • Set up a play date with another of your dog's doggie-friends
  • Play tug-of-war together
  • Run him up and down the stairs!

The point is -- amp up your dog's activity level before a long trip to help him relax. This can be done with any form of play and activity you can think up!

For more on physical activity games, exercises, and video solutions, visit www.ZenDogTrainingOnline.com!

Posted on November 12, 2013

Socialization to Touch, featuring Ernie

Socialization to Touch, featuring Ernie


Meet Ernie!

Ernie is a 12 week old Field Spaniel, he's not shy in the slightest and is as friendly as can be! There are lot's of things to work on with a new puppy. One area people often forget is to teach their dog to tolerate human touch. At Zen Dog Training we do this with the game Socialization to Touch.

Socialization to Touch is time spent teaching your puppy to be accustomed to any human touch. Even uncomfortable touch like being handled by the vet or groomer.

This game is great at preventing problems in the future, like aggression, and is important for emergencies. Not only should your dog should be OK with uncomfortable touch at the vet and groomer, imagine when you need to to pick a thorn out of his paw, cut his nails, or even brush his teeth!

Pick up and touch your dog every day. Have friends (and kids) pick him up and hold your puppy in their arms like a baby. Give him treats yourself or have your friends give him treats as he accepts being touched, picked up and held by others.

At home, you should be more systematic. Hold him with his head facing out and his belly facing up. Your puppy might fight this and wiggle around, but don't let him go. Take a Yoga Breath. If you are relaxed, your puppy will relax.  Again use treats to make a positive association to human touch.

Over time you can touch different body parts as you hold and treat him. Think about what he might have to tolerate in the future: touch his paws and between his toes, his teeth, belly, legs, ears, etc. Remember: You should keep feeding him tasty treats throughout the process.

Tip: Play for only a few minutes at a time and keep feeding him treats! You want him to really love being touched!

For more on Socialization to Touch, Love, Yoga Breath, and other puppy training games, visit Zen Dog Training Online!