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Blog posts from June 2015

Posted on June 16, 2015

Total Recall - PART I

Total Recall - PART I

Meet Link, a 4 year old handsome and charming mixed breed. Link’s mom, Lauren, is moving to the UK and was looking for some off-leash tips and training for Link before they move.

With an adult dog, the best way to teach off-leash control and Coming When Called (a.k.a. Recall) is to start easy and in small places. Practice sessions should happen in a small room of the house (like the kitchen or a bedroom). 

The goal is to teach your dog that if you say their name, when they come to you, they get something delicious!


Start INDOORS first and play The Name Game:

  1. Wait until your dog is looking away from you.
  2. Say your dog’s name.
  3. The INSTANT your dog turns to look at you say, “Yes!” and reward them with praise and treats when they come. 


Make sure your dog comes ALL THE WAY to you so you can grab their collar. You can achieve this by holding the treat close to your leg when you call your dog.

You are grabbing the collar to ensure your dog learns to come close enough to be held, but also, to teach your dog that being touched on the collar is a good thing! 

It is helpful to use HIGH VALUE (special rewards) treats/food that your dog doesn’t get at any other time, e.g. SMALL pieces of chicken breast, cooked chicken livers, cheese, hot dogs, bacon, sausages, turkey...

Try not to overdo the length of each training session. Repeat The Name Game exercise 5 to 10 times in a row.  Then quit and take a break or play with your dog for a while. Practice this exercise every day.  Keep it FUN and FAST!

Gradually Increase Difficulty:

Once the Coming When Called is very reliable in one room, slowly begin to introduce new rooms and involve other people while playing The Name Game.

  • Practice throughout the house, i.e. the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, in every bedroom and, if you have them, in the attic or basement.
  • Try playing with two or more family members, i.e. “Doggy Ping-Pong” – your dog is bouncing back and forth from person to person!

Gradually Increase Distractions:

Once the Coming When Called is very reliable in every room of the house and with other people, gradually add distractions to each room: 

  • Throw their favorite toys around the room and see if you can get them to leave a toy to come to you. 
  • Have a family member enter the room and call your dog away from them. 
  • Practice calling your dog while she is chewing a bully stick, or self-grooming, or sleeping, etc.

Once you can get your dog’s full attention by calling their name inside, then you’re ready to start training outside.

To learn more about Coming When Called check out Zen Dog Training Online!

Posted on June 8, 2015

Leash Walking Your Puppy

Leash Walking Your Puppy

Meet Riggins: a very handsome, 10-week, Rhodesian Ridgeback.  Riggins parents contacted Zen Dog Training at 10 weeks to insure good walking habits! As an adult, Riggins is projected to be over 100 lbs, so having command of the walk is essential!

The first step is to have the right tools. We recommend Riggins wear an Easy Walk Harness or any front-clip harness with a D-ring on the front attached. In addition, we suggested a 6ft leash (not a 4ft). The longer leash can be held at 4 feet and still give you extra space when you need it, e.g. meeting other dogs etc. 

Riggins guardians learned a game we call “My Walk”.  Your puppy is allowed to walk 4 to 6 ft in front of you, on either side of you, or even behind, as long as there is no tension on the leash. 

If your puppy pulls ahead, you make a sound of disgust “Ugh” and stop walking.  You offer no words, leash jerking or pulling your puppy back to you.  You remain calm, lean against the leash and wait four your pup to figure it out.

When your puppy moves back towards you, offer a cheery “Yes!” and continue the walk at brisk pace.  This game continues until your puppy learns that a nice, loose, J-shaped leash is how he keeps on moving!

If your puppy sits down or is really having trouble you can slowly back up, in effect pulling him back towards you. Again, as soon as the leash is loose say “Yes!” and reward him by quickly going forward again.

Walking with a “My Walk” attitude is more than just a dog who doesn’t pull on the leash; you create a positive bond between you and your dog. The goal is to allow your puppy to explore the world with you at its center.

For more information on leash walking and other dog training topics, please visit us online to view our selection of tutorials at www.ZenDogTrainingOnline.com.