Zen Dog Training

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Blog posts by Angie Carreiro

Posted on December 5, 2013

Help! My Dog Chews EVERYTHING!

Help! My Dog Chews EVERYTHING!

It's a question we get all the time: "How do I make my dog stop chewing on X, Y, and Z??" The truth of the matter is that dogs are naturally inclined to chew. Dogs explore the world with their mouths the same way we explore and investigate with our hands. They also chew when left home alone because it's something they enjoy doing! The problem comes when your dog decides that it would be fun to chew up your nice new pair of shoes. So what can you do to solve the problem?

First of all, you can prevent our dogs from chewing non-dog items by keeping them all out of his reach. You can make sure to put our shoes away on a shelf when we get home. Or to put away all of your socks in the place he can't get to. If your dog likes paper, pick up a couple of trash cans with lids to keep him from getting at any Kleenex or napkins. If you need to, don't be afraid to use a crate for your dog while he is learning what he can, and can't, chew on — just put his favorite toys (such as a stuffed bone or Kong) in his crate when you leave. And remember: a tired dog is a well behaved dog! Before you leave in the morning, take your dog to the park, go for a jog, or even play fetch in the house — get him running and panting any way you can.

You also want to teach your dog what he's allowed to chew on by providing plenty of legal alternatives. Have a good variety of types and textures of toys for your dog to play with and chew on. He will be less likely to get bored with what he has and more likely to find a fun toy to play with. Also, notice what your dog likes to chew. If he tends to chew on socks or gloves, make sure he has a nice plush (but durable) toy that he loves. If he starts to devour the baseboards in your home, get him a nice hard stuffed bone or an antler to chew on. You can use they toys (especially the plush ones) to play games like fetch or Tug of War to get him interested in the new toys — and to tire him out!

To help him learn what he can, and cannot, chew on you will want to keep a sharp eye on him so you can interrupt him when he goes for something he shouldn't then refocus him on one of his toys. When you see him start to sniff or chew something other than his toy, simply tell him "uh-uh", stop him from chewing and offer him one of his own toys. If you take a minute to play with him with his toy, he'll turn his focus to his own toy more often. By using these three steps, you will be well on your way to teaching your dog what he can, and more importantly can't, chew on!

If you notice that your dog primarily chews while you are gone, or tends towards more destructive chewing, it might be a sign of a larger issue. If you have questions or are concerned please give us a call at (617) 233-5496!

To learn more about Solving Problem Behaviors, check out Zen Dog Training Online!

Posted on November 19, 2013

Training Tips for Traveling with your Dog

Training Tips for Traveling with your Dog

Planning a trip with your dog?
Traveling can be an exciting adventure for you and your dog, but a long car ride with little to no activity can also be stressful for your canine companion! Increasing your dog's activity before a long trip is a great way to make your trip a bit easier!
Tiredness can really take away from some of the worry your dog may experience during a long car ride.  Remember: A tired dog is a happy dog! Play and physical activity are great ways to exercise your dog's body and mind before a long trip. The morning before a planned trip, take your dog for a longer play session. Ideas for play and increased activity include:

  • Take him to his favorite park to play fetch
  • Bringing him to play with his friends at a local doggie daycare
  • Take a jog together around the neighborhood
  • Throw around a frisbee for him at the beach
  • Set up a play date with another of your dog's doggie-friends
  • Play tug-of-war together
  • Run him up and down the stairs!

The point is -- amp up your dog's activity level before a long trip to help him relax. This can be done with any form of play and activity you can think up!

For more on physical activity games, exercises, and video solutions, visit www.ZenDogTrainingOnline.com!

Posted on November 12, 2013

Socialization to Touch, featuring Ernie

Socialization to Touch, featuring Ernie


Meet Ernie!

Ernie is a 12 week old Field Spaniel, he's not shy in the slightest and is as friendly as can be! There are lot's of things to work on with a new puppy. One area people often forget is to teach their dog to tolerate human touch. At Zen Dog Training we do this with the game Socialization to Touch.

Socialization to Touch is time spent teaching your puppy to be accustomed to any human touch. Even uncomfortable touch like being handled by the vet or groomer.

This game is great at preventing problems in the future, like aggression, and is important for emergencies. Not only should your dog should be OK with uncomfortable touch at the vet and groomer, imagine when you need to to pick a thorn out of his paw, cut his nails, or even brush his teeth!

Pick up and touch your dog every day. Have friends (and kids) pick him up and hold your puppy in their arms like a baby. Give him treats yourself or have your friends give him treats as he accepts being touched, picked up and held by others.

At home, you should be more systematic. Hold him with his head facing out and his belly facing up. Your puppy might fight this and wiggle around, but don't let him go. Take a Yoga Breath. If you are relaxed, your puppy will relax.  Again use treats to make a positive association to human touch.

Over time you can touch different body parts as you hold and treat him. Think about what he might have to tolerate in the future: touch his paws and between his toes, his teeth, belly, legs, ears, etc. Remember: You should keep feeding him tasty treats throughout the process.

Tip: Play for only a few minutes at a time and keep feeding him treats! You want him to really love being touched!

For more on Socialization to Touch, Love, Yoga Breath, and other puppy training games, visit Zen Dog Training Online! 

Posted on October 31, 2013

Preventing Resource Guarding, featuring Pluto

Preventing Resource Guarding, featuring Pluto

Meet Pluto! 

Judging by his constant joyful expression and cheery prance, you can tell that life couldn't be any better for this 13 week old Westie pup. Like all brand-new puppies, Pluto's entering his new home with a blank slate. The learning starts the second he walks in the door, so it is important to start training immediately!

One of Zen Dog Training's must-do training exercises is Preventing Resource Guarding. You might say, "But my puppy doesn't growl when I touch his food bowl" and falsely think you don't need to do any further training. But you should take time to train even if your puppy doesn't seem to have a problem. Why train when there isn't a problem to begin with? Prevention!

This sort of training is so important because the day your dog picks up something dangerous to his health -- if you never practiced Preventing Resource Guarding previously -- you dog may gobble the questionable item before you can do anything about it! This can be expensive and dangerous.

Another all-too-common scenario is aggression. Imagine that you are a visitor are sitting next to your dog while he is eating from his food bowl and your visitor drops a pen. She leans over to pick it up - which causes your dog to feel threatened and he lunges at her or even bites! It should never get to this point, and with proper training, it won't!

The main idea is to Preventing Resource Guarding is to teach your puppy that when he is eating or has something in his mouth -- human presence and intervention always leads to something good! Here are some examples of when and how to do this:

Food Bowl Exercises: Pet and touch your puppy while he eats. Add a tasty treat into his food bowl while he is eating from the bowl (eventually do this by taking the food bowl away first, then give it back with the tasty treat inside).

Hand Feeding: Young children should hand-feed the new puppy! Also practice games like Taking Treats Gently. 

Bully Sticks, Raw Hide Chews, Pig Ears, Flossy Chews: Practice giving your pup one of these chew toys and then randomly take them away. Make sure you give your pup a High Value Treat in exchange for the chew toy. Remember: give your puppy back the chew toy you just took away! You want him to learn to not be threatened by someone approaching him as he eats.

Preventing Resource Guarding is such an easy game that will pay off in the long run and practicing it will keep your puppy confident and happy! But remember you should always use caution in these games and hire a dog trainer if your dog is showing any signs of aggression!

For more on Preventing Resource Guarding, Taking Treats Gently, Management Tools, High Value Treats, and other games and training resources, visit  Zen Dog Training Online.

Posted on September 11, 2013

Drama Diva Queen, Featuring Capall

Drama Diva Queen, Featuring Capall

Meet Capall!

Capall is a 2 year old Bouvier DeFlanders! He's a bundle of love, with a big heart, big paws, and big teeth! He has a habit of getting "mouthy" when playing with his family. Our job was to teach him that polite dog's don't put their teeth on humans!

With dogs over 5 months, we recommend you do not allow any teeth on humans. Some people like to rough house with their dog, however, a child playing with a mouthy dog might jerk her hand away, causing a scratch which may be mistaken for a vicious bite! Also, a dog who learns to communicate with his teeth could take it too far and hurt someone!

Dogs are very aware of what their teeth are touching -- they can feel even the slightest graze of a single tooth touching human skin. We use this to our advantage and teach that -- no teeth to human contact will be tolerated by playing a game called Drama Diva Queen!

Drama Diva Queen is a shun game. To play -- start a regular play session with your dog. 
If he nips or bites you (any bit of a tooth touches your skin) -- say "Ouch!" and dramatically turn your back! 

Shun your dog -- withhold all attention -- break any eye contact (don't even look at him) young children can cross their arms and turn their body away. Do not touch or scold your dog, just wait silently.

After 5-10 seconds return to playing with him as before. Repeat as necessary. 

If you play this game correctly most dogs will 'get it' in as soon as 2-3 training sessions!

Some tips on playing Drama Diva Queen:

  • A drag line or tether are effective management tools to use during this game. They prevent your dog from trying to follow you or jump up while you are shunning him. 
  • Try this game 3-5 times in a row. If your dog isn't getting the message, you may need to try a more advanced game like Out of the Pack, which you can find on Zen Dog Training Online. 
  • Allow minor playbiting with puppies under 5 months, play biting is an important learning stage. 
  • Use volume control -- for minor playbites a low level "Ouch" may be in order, but harder bites should result in a more dramatic "OUCH!" and you might result in you leaving the room for 30 seconds!

For more tips on how and when to use Drama Diva Queen and Out of the Pack, please visit Zen Dog Training Online.