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Blog posts from September 2014

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



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.