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Blog posts from July 2015

Posted on July 27, 2015

Help for the Shy or Fearful Dog

Help for the Shy or Fearful Dog

Meet Watson, a 17-month-old and his new buddy, 7-month-old Bruno.  Watson is a Zen Dog Puppy Kindergarten alum and despite his small size, he was a confident pup during classes.  It was good to see his confidence and socialization skills were still going strong!

Bruno, however, is quite a different story.  He was acting shy and fearful of almost everything -- except around his family and his buddy, Watson.  

Bruno’s guardians called Zen Dog Training to help manage Bruno’s fearful behaviors. When we met Bruno, he cowered as his harness was put on and yelped and squealed when we took him outside!  After observing Bruno, we offered a desensitization and counter-conditioning plan to help alleviate his fearful behaviors. 

For Bruno, the harness and outside walk at once was too overwhelming.  We suggested breaking things down into smaller, more manageable steps.

First, we suggested developing a positive association for Bruno with his harness while in the house.  To do this, the harness is slowly put on over his neck, and he is given high value treats for putting up with it. Slowly and systematically we put the harness on for longer periods as he got delicious treats!

Bruno soon began to enjoy himself and started to form a new, positive association with the harness.  Once comfortable, the harness is finally clipped on and worn around the house for increasing periods of time, all the while being offered more treats.

Next up, was the fear of going outside.  Using similar strategies as with the harness, we recommended taking Bruno to a small, relatively calm environment for gradually increasing amounts of time and again, offering lots of treats and “Coach Talk” to build Bruno’s confidence when outdoors.

Coach Talk is a phrase to describe the calm, reassuring things to say to a dog when experiencing signs of distress and fear.  Remember, when using coach talk, it is important to sound confident and reassuring, not sad or worried.

Applying these strategies, over time, with consistency and patience will ease Bruno’s fears and help him enjoy life with his new family.  For more information on shy and fearful dogs and other training topics, please visit www.ZenDogTrainingOnline.  

Posted on July 20, 2015

Using a Long Line to teach Coming When Called

Using a Long Line to teach Coming When Called

Once you have mastered “Recall” (Link’s ability to Come When Called) indoors – it is time to move outdoors. Lauren’s yard was not fully fenced in so we attached Link to his outdoor LONG LINE: a 50 foot lightweight cloth (or rope) leash.

Using a Long Line is a great intermediary step for off-leash training — if your dog decides to run off or test the rules, you can quickly and easily step on, or grab, the leash to regain control of the situation.

Long Line Tips:

  • Try to make the line as lightweight as possible. You want your dog to feel free and make his own decisions before he realizes that you can actually reach him from fifty feet away.
  • Hold the leash. Do not “reel” your dog back to you; just prevent him from going anywhere.
  • If your dog tries to “test the rules”, pick up the leash and walk backwards. This will turn your dog towards you. Call your dog again. Stop walking when they start coming towards you. Reward your dog when he arrives!

Coming When Called Training Steps:

  1. Once the indoor “Recall” (Coming When Called) is really solid, attach your dog’s outdoor LONG LINE to their harness or collar and head outside to a small yard or isolated outdoor space with little to no distractions.
  2. Repeat the Name Game exercise. Again, keeping it fun, using your HIGH VALUE treats and end on a good note!
  3. Take baby steps. Start on your front or back porch if you have to. Make sure to start with outdoor areas that are quiet and do not have a lot of distractions for your dog. (If he has learned to come when called in your kitchen, you can’t expect him to be able to do it at the dog park when he’s surrounded by a pack of buddies!)
  4. Very gradually increase the level of difficulty by training in outdoor environments where the added distractions are really easy to ignore at first. After several weeks of training, you can add in harder distractions like coming away from squirrels, birds, children, people and other dogs.

GOAL:  Your dog continues to learn that when you say his name, something yummy and wonderful is STILL going to happen! Once you can get your dog’s full attention by calling their name outside using your Long Line, then you’re ready to start training the Coming when Called without the leash.

To learn more about Coming when Called outside check out our video solution center Zen Dog Training Online!

Posted on July 14, 2015

Bonding with your dog

Bonding with your dog

How to bond with your new puppy

You want your puppy to bond with you and your family. Bonding is especially important with new puppies, shy dogs, or if you have children.

The socialization period is the easiest time to teach your puppy to bond with you and become comfortable with your home and lifestyle. The socialization period of your puppies’ development is between the 8th and 13th week.

Bonding happens naturally, the Zen Dog trainer dedicates time (and lots’ of treats) to ensure bonding happens quickly and with ALL members of the family including, children, elderly parents, friends, and extended family.

Hand Feeding

Raising a dog to be loving and confident with people is easy.

A young puppy is dependent on their mother for nurturing, protection, and food. When you bring your puppy home he will be confused and try to mouth, bite, and suck on fingers, hands, hair…anything he can get his little mouth on.

By hand-feeding your puppy you help him bond with you and associate you as his new family. Teaching your dog to eat from your hands will also help reduce unwanted play biting and nipping. Imagine daily play sessions where your puppy learns to gently take food from your hands instead of trying to chew your clothes, carpet, or the couch.

At Zen Dog Training, we recommend you take some of your puppy’s daily food aside and use for training. When you proactively substitute the food bowl with eating from your fingers and hands your dog will learn to expect good things from people!

Young children should be included but supervised, adults can even toss treats or place them at the feet of toddlers or baby carriages to create positive associations with those too young to participate.

You should still feed your puppy from the food bowl. However, taking one meal a day and dedicating that food to training and socialization games will foster the kind of trust that is essential in having a confident “Zen Dog.”

For more information on bonding with your puppy and other Zen Dog Training games and solutions, please visit our Video Solution Center.

Posted on July 4, 2015

Respectful Training for the Demanding Puppy

Respectful Training for the Demanding Puppy

Presenting Ziggy!  He is one, absolutely adorable, 12-week Irish Terrier/Poodle mix.  Ziggy is a bit timid, but demanding.  He wanted everything from his owner:  he ‘asked’ her to play with him, ‘asked’ her to let him go outside, or get his favorite toy – and because he’s so adorable he usually got what he wanted! 

While it is important to understand your dog’s wants and needs, fulfilling every one on his terms does little to build confidence and self-soothing skills.  In fact, being too accommodating to your dog can actually make him a needy, attention-demanding dog. 

At Zen Dog Training, we teach clients strategies to respond to their dog’s requests in a way that builds confidence AND establishes appropriate boundaries and limitations.  One strategy we use is called “Nothing for Free”; in short, once your dog has done something for you, then he can have what he wants. 

For example, Ziggy dropped his toy at his owner’s feet to signal he wanted to play NOW!  We suggested to first ask Ziggy to do a “sit” or “down”.  Once he has done what she asked, playtime can begin! 

Games where you teach your dog to do an extended “sit-stay” or a “long-down-stay”, go to another room and call your dog to you, will build obedience on your terms. Anything that delays the fulfillment of your dog’s request will build his coping skills and make you absolutely irresistible!  

Nothing for Free games are best practiced before doing things that your dog really enjoys, like waiting quietly before opening the door to go for a walk.  Just having your dog do a down-stay before meals or before jumping up for a snuggle-session on the couch is immensely helpful. 

With Zen Dog Training, Ziggy got what he wanted and needed -- on his owner’s terms!  Nothing for Free means your dog has to wait patiently and listen to you before he gets something he wants. You are trying to build the connection that after your dog pleases you he gets what he wants!

For more information on “Nothing for Free” and other Zen Dog Training strategies, please visit us at www.ZenDogTrainingOnline.com to view our extensive library of video tutorials.