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Blog posts from April 2015

Posted on April 22, 2015

Bark N’ Call

Bark N’ Call

Meet Teddy, a one-year-old Poodle mix.  His parents, Susan and Dan have been concerned about Teddy’s barking at the door in their apartment building.  When they received a complaint from the management, they called Zen Dog Training for some help!

Teddy greeted us as he would ANY stranger in his home – with a lot of barking! 

Before our arrival, we instructed Dan to keep a Drag Line on him (a leash already attached to his collar that drags on the floor) in case we needed to interrupt Teddy if he wouldn’t listen. 

As soon as we walked in the door, Teddy was fixated and barking non-stop at us. 

We instructed Dan to interrupt his barking by using the leash to move Teddy’s body around (a 180-degree turn).  “Don’t let him see us”, Gordon instructed.  The eye contact continued, as well as Teddy’s barking!   

Finally, when Dan used the leash to walk Teddy all the way around the corner and into the kitchen -- the eye contact was broken and the barking stopped.

Using the leash to interrupt unwanted behaviors is an important step. However, it’s usually not the first step. At Zen Dog Training we teach “Ask, Ask, Tell”.

Dan and Susan took turns asking Teddy for attention while Gordon played different “stranger” roles at the apartment door.  Gordon would pretend to be a visitor opening the front door.  Dan would call him away from the door, “Teddy”, while Teddy barked.  He would ask again, “Teddy!” 

At first, Teddy was so worked up the Ask Strategy didn’t work. He was in no place to listen.  In fact, not only would he not come when called, he wouldn’t even turn his head away. 

Since Teddy couldn’t listen in such a high-stress environment. We moved to a Tell Strategy, (a.k.a. Interrupting)

How to interrupt barking at the front door:

  • Say “Ehh-Ehh!” – this signals your disapproval.
  • Walk over to your dog and grab the handle of the leash (Drag Line).*
  • Interrupt your dog -- Use the leash to break eye-contact with whatever has your dog upset by turning his head and body 180-degrees around.
  • Gently but firmly walk your dog away from the door.

*Remember: When your dog is misbehaving, having them wear an indoor leash (“Drag Line”) is important!  This way you can grab the handle of the leash and not always grab their collar when your dog is acting up.

Once you walk your dog away, you can manage the situation by putting your dog in his confinement area, tethering, or crating him.  Ideally, if you have the time, you can make it a training moment.

Training Moments:

We decided to make it a training moment and took 20 minutes to practice teaching Teddy to stop barking at the door.

People knocked on the door and entered the house several times in a row. At first we had to interrupt him every time someone knocked. After a few reps, Teddy began to look back at Dan instead of barking non-stop. Dan and Susan said, “Yes! Good boy!” and rewarded the pause in his barking with treats and praise.

After several breaks and another 20 minutes of training, Teddy was actually coming away from the door instead of barking his head off!

Because Teddy had learned over months to react and impulsively bark when frightened by the door, at first we had to use the Drag Line to “Tell” him to move away from the door. However, with consistent practice over 3-5 weeks, Teddy began to listen when he was simply "Asked" to stop barking at the door. 

To learn more about Solving Problem Behaviors, Ask Strategies, Interrupting and Managing, check out Zen Dog Training Online!

Posted on April 15, 2015

Shun That Diva

Shun That Diva

Meet Maya, a 12-week-old Golden Retriever.  This precious angel has everything going for her – looks, smarts, and a whole lotta love!

Her parents, Vikram and Gihan were concerned about Maya’s mouthiness.  We explained that minor play biting and mouthing behaviors are normal and allowed up to around 5 months of age.

Play biting or “mouthing” is an important part of the puppy learning process. However, puppies need to be clear about the difference between soft nibbling and hard bites!

To teach Maya to stop biting so hard, Vikram and Gihan learned how to play a game we call Drama Diva Queen. Maya learned that biting got her ‘Shunned!’   

How to play Drama Diva Queen:

  1. Begin with happy play and get your dog excited.
  2. As soon as you feel your dog bite down on your skin, say "Owww!" and dramatically turn your back! * 
  3. Shun your dog by withholding all attention -- be sure to break all eye contact (do not look at him/her).
  4. Stay with your back turned, waiting silently for 3-5 seconds.
  5. After 3-5 seconds of ignoring, return to playing with your dog as before. 

Repeat as necessary. 

* With dogs older than 6 months, you should respond to any ‘tooth on skin’ contact. A well-behaved dog should NEVER be allowed to put their teeth on you.

Helpful hints:

  • You can try attaching the leash to a heavy table leg or couch leg to prevent your dog from following you during a ‘shun’.
  • Stepping on a leash can be a helpful management tool to use during this game. The leash prevents your dog from trying to jump up on you while you are shunning him. 
  • Volume can be a distinguishing factor.  Like with Maya, minor play bites may only require a low level "Owww".  Harder bites can have a more dramatic "OUCH!" and even result in you leaving the room for 30 seconds!

If you play this game consistently, your dog will go out of his way to avoid nipping people – most clients see results in only a few 10-minute training sessions!

Not working?

Some dogs will need more than just “Shunishment” to get the picture.

Try this game 3-5 times in a row. If your dog isn't getting the idea, you may need to try a more advanced game like “Out of the Pack”, available on Zen Dog Training Online. 

To learn more about Drama Diva Queen, Out of the Pack, and other puppy training games check out Zen Dog Training Online!

Posted on April 2, 2015

What’s In A Name?

What’s In A Name?

Meet Rhodie, a 5-month-old Airedale Terrier.  Rhodie is a typical high-energy puppy with all the usual goofy, floppy, silly behavior present and accounted for. 

Rhodie’s owner Elana was concerned about his high-level of energy and lack of focus.  One of her main reasons for calling Zen Dog Training was that “he’s a little crazy and all over the place on walks.” Rhodie was also nipping and playing rough with kids (and even some adults), which was becoming a big problem.

Getting a puppy’s attention is the foundation of teaching a dog to be obedient.  We helped Elana encourage Rhodie to check in and pay attention to her with a game we call Name Game.

Name Game is a fun and simple way to start getting your dog to listen to you. Coming when called is always important. Plus, if you can reliably call your dog to you, it is easier to keep them out of trouble!

How to play Name Game:

1. Call your dog to you using just their name, i.e. “Rhodie!” 

2. The INSTANT your dog looks at you, acknowledge the good behavior with a “YES!” 

3. Keep praising your dog until s/he comes to you for a treat. *

*Later the “reward” can be petting, affection or a game of Tug!

Ultimately, the goal is to get your dog to come when called. Once they reliably come to you, the options that can springboard from this easy and fun game are positively endless. 

Rhodie’s mom quickly learned how to ask, acknowledge and reward her puppy when he was being good. The happy “YES!” sounds were bouncing off the walls…and the good news was…Rhodie wasn’t!

To learn more about Name Game, and other puppy training games check out Zen Dog Training Online.