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Blog posts from 2014

Posted on November 10, 2014

Walking a Dog Who Wants to Chase Wildlife

Walking a Dog Who Wants to Chase Wildlife

Meet Snuggles!  She is a recently adopted, 7 year-old Husky and a retired sled dog.  Snuggles lives up to her name as she is the sweetest, snuggly girl ever!  She is a working dog and knows all about being part of a sled team, but is learning some of the basic commands a dog of leisure needs to know. 

Her owners contacted Zen Dog Training to help with Snuggles’ prey-drive. While on walks, she locks her sights on squirrels and bunnies, and lunges toward them -- often pulling her owner off balance in the process!  

One of the most important aspects of dog ownership is the ability to take enjoyable, safe walks. So, during our visit, we introduced a number of interrupt strategies and equipment that Snuggles’ owner can use to keep her walking and not thinking about chasing. 

The first step is switching Snuggles to a front-clip harness. Harnesses like the Easy Walk by Premier or the Sensation that attach in the front give the handler more control. We also recommend they always use a 6-foot lead as more length will make it easier to keep the leash loose.   

On walks, when Snuggles displays signs of hunting behavior (intense staring, ears perked up and pointed forward, body weight shifted forward, leaning/pulling against the lead and/or raised hackles) Snuggles’ owner was taught to interrupt her using a “Body-Turn”. 

To do a Body Turn, first signal that you want the behavior to stop by saying “Eh, Eh!” or other guttural “No” noise and gently (but swiftly) pull your dog so that they break eye contact with whatever they are locked on or lunging toward.

The trick is to pick a side of the body and simultaneously pull the hands to the body while using the core and leg muscles to step back.  This smooth motion shouldn’t startle or scare your dog but will turn them 180 degrees around; breaking eye-contact with the “prey.” Once interrupted, her handler can ask her to focus with a command like “Let’s go!” and continue walking at a brisk pace. 

At first, it may take 3-5 interrupts (per episode) before Snuggles understands that we want her to stop this behavior. However, with calm and consistent application, Snuggles will learn that chasing squirrels and bunnies only results in her being stopped and interrupted. 

For more information on interrupting unwanted behaviors on walks and other Zen Dog Training strategies, please visit us at www.ZenDogTrainingOnline.com to view our extensive library of video tutorials or contact us today!

Posted on October 29, 2014

Multi-Lingual Dog Training

Multi-Lingual Dog Training

Meet Romeo, a 4-month Pomeranian. We were delighted to be called to train this fluffy bundle of personality! His family wanted Romeo to be multi-lingual – he needed to learn his puppy basics in a household of three spoken languages from five different caregivers!

Dogs have an amazing ability to associate meaning or connections with any number of sounds, tone of voice, body language and facial expressions.  So, when teaching commands, we always use a hand signal before introducing the actual word.  The same thing goes for a multi-lingual household – hand signals serve as the universal language for the dog. 

For example, Romeo may know how to do a reliable sit with the English word “Sit”, but if he is told in Spanish, “Sientate” he may not know what is expected.  Using a consistent hand signal after each command word will help Romeo understand and eventually learn what is being asked of him, regardless of the language spoken. 

We recommended that Romeo’s owners develop a universal vocabulary list for Romeo. The list should contain each command in each language along with a "picture" of the hand signal for that command. We suggested the list be posted for everyone in the family to see and reference. This level of consistency will help Romeo learn the same behavior in a variety of languages.  A multi-lingual dog – now that’s a Zen Dog!

For more information on teaching commands and other dog training topics, please visit us at www.ZenDogTrainingOnline.com to view our extensive library of video tutorials.

Posted on September 23, 2014

Crate Training for Independence

Crate Training for Independence

Introducing Lemon!  This 4-month old Spaniel/Aussie Mix is quite a love bug!  Sweet as she is, her constant demands for attention are becoming problematic for her guardian who works from home.

Lemon is not subtle with her requests for attention.  She shadows people from room to room, carries her water bowl around to play chase, barks when she doesn’t get immediate attention or, worse yet, barks at night when she’s alone in her crate.

At Zen Dog Training, we emphasize the importance of early-intervention training to prevent unwanted behaviors.  Lemon’s attention seeking behaviors may initially be perceived as endearing, but if not stopped early and appropriately, the behaviors can escalate and cause more serious issues for Lemon and her owner.

During our visit with Lemon we recommended using a crate for independence training. Teaching your dog to be comfortable in the crate is an important management tool.  Crate training done right should not stress out your dog or make them suffer. Dogs are naturally den animals so many dogs grow to love their crate as a safe resting place.

Getting your puppy comfortable with the crate makes house training, managing destructive behaviors and helps dogs develop self-soothing skills. With Lemon, we suggested placing her in the crate with a chew or favorite toy.  Once the crate door is closed, Lemon should be showered with treats.  Initially we suggested crating Lemon for 2 – 20 minutes each day, 10 times per day until she can remain calm and quiet for longer periods of time.  

During initial training, her owners should stay close - even sit in the room, but not give her any eye contact (look at Lemon in the crate). Next, they can increase the challenge by moving out of the room or to another part of the house, out of sight. Later, they can open the front door or pretend to be leaving.

When crate training a dog there will often be crying, howling or whimpering. It is best if your dog is let out of the crate only when calm and quiet. However, for some dogs crate training is especially hard.  If you are having problems crate training your dog please contact Zen Dog Training right away.

For more information on crate training for independence or other dog training topics, visit us atwww.ZenDogTrainingOnline.com to view our extensive collection of video tutorials.  

Posted on September 3, 2014

Shunishment

Shunishment

Meet Harvey: a 2 year-old Great Dane/Labrador mix.  Harvey’s personality as big as he is!  He is a lot of D-O-G, which is why his guardian requested Zen Dog Training to teach Harvey to stop constantly demanding attention from people.

Despite a regular and rigorous exercise routine, Harvey had difficulty settling down in the house.  Especially when people come over, Harvey was constantly jumping up and pushing himself on visitors, digging into their belongings, and demanding constant attention from everyone. 

Harvey’s guardian finally called Zen Dog Training after going to a backyard cookout, where he would not settle and barked for attention constantly.  He pawed and nosed at everyone who walked by him and was so frustrating that they had to leave the BBQ early!

Based on our assessment we recommended increasing obedience training and using Shunishment rather than punishment to train him.

Shunishment is a term coined by Zen Dog Training that describes actively ignoring demand-seeking behaviors.  This means at times you act disgusted with bad behavior and withhold all eye contact, touch and talk.  

It is important to understand that any attention, even negative, like repeating the dog’s name over and over again, saying “No!” or giving him the “dirty looks” is attention and may make bad behaviors worse!

To be effective, shunishment requires the right management tools and environment for success.  In Harvey’s case, we created an indoor confinement area so Harvey could be restricted and contained (not punished) when his behaviors became annoying. 

We encouraged people to play with him in the confinement area and when he became unruly, they signaled their disgust “Ugh!” then immediately and left him alone in the confinement area for 10-20 seconds. This teaches him that demanding behavior was not going to get him the attention he wanted, in fact, demanding attention got him “shunned!”

Later, when he quieted down, Harvey was rewarded with our calm attention.  He quickly learned that sitting or laying down quietly on the floor while guests were over earned him a gentle head rub and treats from visitors and friends. 

To learn more about shunishment and how to create an environment for success, visit at zendogtrainingonline.com or contact Zen Dog Training. 

Posted on August 26, 2014

Cat and Dog Introductions

Cat and Dog Introductions

Meet Simba: a playful, 6-month old, Labrador mix puppy.  Simba’s guardians knew it was important to start training early so they contacted Zen Dog Training within 2 weeks of adoption.  Early intervention is everything!  One of their goals was to learn how to successfully introduce Simba to Mila, their equally adorable, 18-month-old kitty.

Simba and Mila’s guardians are smart, sensitive people who know that a successful introduction between their animals is critical to maintaining a peaceful home.

Introducing a new dog into a cat-friendly home can be especially stressful, so taking time to make the right environment is essential.  You must create a “Dog Free” space where your cat can feel safe from a sometimes overly-zealous, playful puppy!

A successful cat and dog introduction requires that each pet can feel safe and secure.  Your cat should get food, water and have their litter box in the safe zone. This way, they can feel free to eat, sleep, and live in a comfortable setting.

Vertical perches are important too; access to a high counter top or cat perch where Mila can nap or watch Simba from a safe distance.  During introductions, we recommend Simba be on his indoor leash and be offered treats for giving his attention to his owners or just praising him when he relaxes, sits quietly and leaves the cat alone.

To learn more about introducing your new dog to the family kitty and other dog training topics, view our extensive video tutorials at www.zendogtrainingonline.com.

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