Presenting Ziggy!

He is an adorable, 12-week-old Irish Terrier/Poodle mix.  Ziggy is a bit timid, but demanding.  He wanted everything from his owner:  he wanted her to play with him all the time, he wanted her to let him go outside all the time, and he wanted her to constantly get his favorite toy – and because he’s so adorable he usually got what he wanted!

But Was All This Attention Necessary?

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.

Our “Nothing for Free” Policy

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 to view our extensive library of video tutorials.