"A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker." ~ Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C

Actions speak much louder than words, especially for dogs. Just remember, you can say more to your dog by using clear body language and being consistent than you can by using a lot of words over and over again with no actions. Train your dog to be a good Zen dog by learning how to use your own body language clearly and by being consistent with your intentions. One study shows that 90% of human communication is made up entirely of body language, with the rest being oral language. For dogs, 99% of communication is through body language and a mere 1% is oral.

Before people start training their dogs, they need to learn how to convey the messages that they want their dogs to learn in the first place. A dear friend of mine who was a key part of our DogZenergy team, followed her heart and decided to go teach English to children in China. A lot of her friends were shocked to learn that she was going to go do this without knowing any Mandarin. Right before her trip, Lisa and I were having a conversation and arrived at the conclusion that working with dogs for the last year prepared her so much for traveling and working in a country where she will not know the language. Even though our dogs that we take care of don't "speak" English, we "talk" to them all day long and a massive amount of communication, understanding and information is shared between ourselves and the dogs. Through body language, gestures, hand signals, nods, looks, smiles, shakes of the head and knowledge about cultures other than our own, we can all share so much with one another without even speaking the same "language". It's such a beautiful thing. Relationships can be created without words. Love, respect and understanding can all be created by conveying the thoughts that we have in our head through our body as vehicles for interpretation.

One exercise to try with your dog, is to run your dog through all of his commands without uttering a single word. You will be pleasantly surprised to find that your dog will know exactly what you're "talking" about. Take your dog for a silent walk with the intention to observe his body language with you and with other dogs, then make the conscious effort to "watch" your own. Do you shift your weight, tilt your head, use your hands, rest on your hip, crouch down or step towards your dog when you ask him to do different things? What works and what doesn't? Are you smiling, nodding, making eye contact, petting, or acting happy? Does your dog look at you more when you are happy? Your dog is an expert in reading your body language, therefore it is extremely important that you are conscious of the way that you are using it.

Oftentimes, in training sessions, I have to remind the dog's human to watch my body language rather than just staring at their dog. It's not that I have a big ego and I want people to stare at me (awkward!), but if the owner is not watching to see what I am doing to get his or her dog to respond the way that I want them to, they will be missing out on the key component of the training process. Little kids are much easier to teach when it comes to dog training, because they are much more used to watching and mimicking adults' body language.

Be mindful of the information that your body language is portraying and change it if you are not getting the results that you want. Be mindful of the thoughts that you have because they will be read all over your body language. For example, if you are trying to work on your dog's negative reaction to other dogs while on leash, be very careful about how you think about seeing other dogs, otherwise your body language will follow- sucking in your breath, clutching the leash, pulling your dog back- which all contribute to an increased stress response for your dog.

In the words of Buddha, "The wise have mastered the Body, words and mind. They are the true masters."