Zen Dog Training

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Blog posts by Gordon Fontaine

Posted on April 18, 2017

The Secret to Dog Training

The Secret to Dog Training

Want to know the secret to successful dog training? The secret is not to try to train your dog until you know you control the outcome.

In other words, choosing the right time to train is important. When you are in the middle of something and your dog misbehaves, you may not have time to train. In these situations, INTERRUPT your dog and quickly MANAGE the situation.

Rather than trying to “train” your dog in front of your guests, dedicate time each day to creating TEACHING MOMENTS where you practice exercises that teach your dog expected outcomes.


This kind of Zen Dog Training encourages dog owners to understand when they should MANAGE and when they should train. Training means taking time to set up an environment where you can teach a lesson or prevent bad behaviors from happening in the first place.  Once you control the outcome, repeat exercises over and over (in a controlled setting) so your dog understands your rules.

Essentially, you want to teach your dog they get praise, treats, and love for making good decisions, but you also want them to learn they get ignored, interrupted, or controlled if they make a bad decision.

At Zen Dog Training, we recommend you set up situations – every day – where you teach your dog the rules with repetition.  Create TEACHING MOMENTS by using the right MANAGEMENT TOOLS.


Teaching a dog to stop jumping is a good example that illustrates how using the right MANAGEMENT TOOLS helps you incorporate training drills and training in the moment.

Start by having your dog wear a DRAG LINE (or indoor leash). Put the DRAG LINE on before visitors arrive, or put one on when they start chasing the cat, and you will level the playing field for training.

With your dog wearing a leash inside the house you can more quickly INTERRUPT when they act out, or you can step on the leash and have everyone IGNORE your dog if they start jumping. Even better, the LEASH STEP will give them a mild INTERRUPT every time they try to jump up.

With almost no effort, every time a visitor arrives or you say hi to someone on the street, you can use the LEASH STEP to set-up a situation where your dog cannot successfully jump and, at the same time, gets lots of opportunities to be rewarded with praise, attention, petting, even treats for sitting quietly.

Once your dog starts to understand the rules, you introduce distractions, increase the difficulty, and mix it up to make sure your dog “gets it” in different situations.   


The Secret to Zen Dog Training is getting the humans to think like a dog, and understand what truly motivates their dog. Training comes from a place of mutual understanding where you set your dog up to succeed, and even fail, in training scenarios that reinforce the rules of your house.

Posted on March 8, 2017

Mastering The 7 Essential Puppy Training Lessons

Zen Dog Training

In order to successfully bring a new dog into your home, you must first master these 7 Essential Puppy Training Lessons.

House Training

Teaching your dog Where and When to Go to the bathroom is an essential part of successfully bringing a dog into your home. See our Free House Training eBook for all our house training secrets!

Home Alone & Crate Training

Your puppy should learn to relax and be comfortable when left alone in your home or in the crate. Separation Anxiety eBook.

How to Stop Play Biting

There are at least 4 different solutions for play biting. You should know them all and which one works best with your unique situation. Tougher cases will require all four methods! Access all the Play Biting Solutions in our 6 Week Online Puppy Course.

Socialization to People, Places, and Things.

Socialization is the process of domestication. Your dog must learn to feel safe with people and the world around them.  Always bring treats with you when you are walking your puppy, give them as your dog meets new people, visit places, and get accustomed their environment.  

Socialization to Touch and other Animals.

Socialization should ALSO include specific exercises for touch. Your puppy should be OK with the groomer, vet visits, etc; when they are sufficiently vaccinated become socialized with other dogs.

Preventing Food Guarding

Puppyhood is the best time to teach your dog to not protect their food or feel threatened being approached while eating or chewing a bone.

Control of the Mouth

Your dog must be taught to relinquish things in their mouth on command.

Once you’ve mastered these 7 Puppy Essentials you are ready to start obedience training. Learn more about our Group Classes, In Home Training, and Online Learning Solutions at www.ZenDogTraining.net

Posted on February 29, 2016

Zen Dog Training is looking for new trainers

If you are interested in a rewarding and lucrative career as a dog training professional, then you should consider becoming a Zen Dog Trainer.

Join our team and you will learn the most advanced training methods in the industry! Zen Dog Trainers get their own bio page and are highlighted on our website, our blog and social media. Trainers have exclusive access to all the training plans, games, and solutions to use with clients on visits and during group classes. 

We will teach you the secrets of Zen Dog Training. A systematic-approach to teaching people and their dogs that was developed over the last decade by training thousands of dogs and their owners!  

In addition to learning our training system, everything you need to run your own business is taken care of for you. We'll help you find new clients, track sales and leads, and charge the ideal price for your time.

Our efficient approach means your clients are automatically followed up with, so you can spend more time training dogs and less time running your business.

Love what you do

Zen Dog Training is a rewarding career. Our trainers love working with people and dogs. They get to spend every day meeting new people and helping them better communicate and understand their pets. It is incredibly rewarding when you help a family with their dog and make a life-long impact in the relationship they have with their pet.

Zen Dog Training is unique. We need enthusiastic, self-motivated, individuals who want to become full-time dog trainers. Trainers who work 30-40 hours a week, can expect to earn between $40-60,000 a year. In fact, many Zen Dog Trainers have made $25-30,000 in their first year!

What does it mean to become a Zen Dog Trainer?

Zen Dog Training is not a franchise. Our trainers run their own business and are paid directly by their own clients.   

Zen Dog Training provides trainer education with a mentorship program where new trainers study and work directly with Gordon Fontaine. Trainers learn our unique training system that includes client drills and exercises and training plans for In-Home Visits and Group Classes. 

Our trainers have access to all our print-ready, logical, and fun training plans and comics to leave behind after a visit or give out during puppy classes. In addition, they get unlimited access to our Video Solution Center with over 100 training video’s that support the Zen Dog Training methods.

Trainers are highlighted on our website with their own profile page, testimonials, and blog posts. In addition, marketing is already taken care of, business cards, flyers, and brochures are designed and customized for each trainer.  

The best job in the world

I started Zen Dog Training in 2005 after graduating from the SF SPCA Dog Training Academy in San Francisco, CA. I had moved to Boston and earned an MBA from Boston College, and after 10 years working in the high-tech and bio-tech industries I realized that a desk job, no matter how high-paying was not for me!

Growing up with dogs, I have a deep love for animals and living dog-less in the city I felt something in my life was missing.  At the time, I was volunteering at Angell in their animal behavior program and realized there was a huge need for personalized dog training.  I decided to become a dog trainer.

I was accepted into the SF SPCA Dog Training Academy and studied with Jean Donaldson and Janis Bradley in this highly-selective program known as the “Harvard of Dog Training”.  I was attracted to the academy because of their world-class reputation and focus on the science of dog learning, positive-reinforcement, and critical thinking.

Becoming a dog trainer has been so rewarding! People from all walks of life, from doctors, lawyers, and scientists, to parents, students, and everyday people seek my advice on how to have a better relationship with their dogs.

Be your own boss

Zen Dog Trainers get their own unique territory and are positioned to become the local dog training expert. Trainers get marketing support and help with promotion to build a reputation as the go-to dog trainer in their area.

Being self-employed has many advantages! You can set your own hours and are entitled to tax deductions when you use your car, cell phone, and computer for your business. We even have a system for helping you track your time, expenses and income so can professionally run your business and keep more of the money you earn.

Contact Zen Dog Training

Please email us at training@zendogtraining.net with your name, address, phone number and a few paragraphs about why you are interested in becoming a Zen Dog Trainer.

We are looking forward to hearing from you!

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!  

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.