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Blog posts from December 2015

Posted on December 15, 2015

Check-in’s teach your dog to look to you for guidence.

Check-in’s teach your dog to look to you for guidence.

Mutual awareness is an important part of you and your dogs relationship – it is the essence of inter-species communication. With the right training plan, you can improve how you communicate with your dog by teaching your dog to “check-in” with you.

What is a Check-in?

At a very young age, puppies learn how to check in with their mother by making eye contact. You will notice that your dog will often offer you the behavior of eye contact, that natural behavior is called “checking-in”.

In your home, puppies and newly-adopted dogs are frequently under foot and getting in the way. Often what is actually happening is that your dog is trying to check-in with you.

Your dog is looking to you for approval and guidance. If you do not reinforce the check-in your dog may no longer look to you for guidance.

Reward the behavior

The check-in acknowledges you as the decision maker in the relationship. However it also opens up communication. Imagine your dog learning to look to you and say, “I’m feeling uncomfortable about something” or “Did you hear that too?” Knowing when your dog is nervous gives you the opportunity to assess the situation, practice some training exercises and set your dog up for success.

When your dog offers a check-in you should reward them. By responding, you are strengthening the bonds of trust between the two of you. Your dog will learn to trust you for guidance in a stressful situation.

Later you can give your dog more freedom without worrying they may get distracted by the environment and consequently make bad decisions.

See: How to Teach your dog to Check-in for more on this subtle but powerful training method. For more Zen Dog Training visit our website!

Posted on December 3, 2015

Teach your Dog to Heel

Teach your Dog to Heel

How to teach your dog to “Heel” on either side during walks


Why Heel?

This is an Ask Strategy. It teaches your dog that good things happen when they walk next to you. A heel command can help distract a nervous or reactive dog from getting worked up.

Goal of Heel: 

Teach your dog to walk next to you on command. Great for getting your dog to focus during scary or overly stimulating situations -- when you see the cigarette butt, or “Scary” person approaching, ask your dog to Touch Your Hand, to focus his attention on you instead of “that thing.”

How to:

  1. While on leash, turn your back to your dog.
  2. Put your right hand across your body and down to your left knee, with your palm facing back. Your palm should be facing your dog.
  3. Say your dog’s name and the word “Heel”
  4. When your dog Touches Your Hand, say “YES!”
  5. Take a few steps forward! (This is the part where they learn to Heel!)
  6. Now put your hand back down into the same position and give your dog a treat!


Helpful Tips:

Hide a treat under your thumb so your dog can smell but not see the treat.

Keep walking forward when treating. You want your dog to learn that moving forward with you is what gets him the treat.

This is a great game for fearful/shy dogs to pass by potentially tense situations or to distract overly curious dogs from picking up something gross off of the sidewalk.

Do not treat on the first hand touch. By treating on the second hand touch your dog learns to stay by your side (heel) and walk with you in order to receive a reward!

Change it up: Reactive and shy dogs should learn to switch sides and heel on the Left or the Right side on your command.



Bring treats with you on walks and ask your dog to Heel at your side and focus on you instead of anything else!