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Zen Human Training

Zen Dog Training Tip of The Week!

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Zen Dog Training Tip of The Week!

Positive Attention for Calm, Zen Behavior

                                                                 Jake with gorgeous Pippa who's always a good girl!

                                                                 Jake with gorgeous Pippa who's always a good girl!

In general,  most post pet owners don't have any issue with letting their pup know when they are unhappy with them. Dogs absolutely love attention, even if it's negative. Your dog jumping on you when you come home is them begging for attention. Your dog stealing a shoe and running away in a game of chase, or barking at a passing dog through the window - are all ways that your dog has figured out how to get your attention.  Unfortunately people tend to ignore when there dog is being good. This is a huge mistake! Always make sure to give your dog plenty of praise and attention when they are doing the right behavior. It's easy to ignore your dog when they sit calmly by the window watching a dog go by and it's easy to ignore your dog for bringing over their toy to play with instead of your favorite shoe. This is the perfect time to be extra generous with your attention and recognition. Look for the good in your dog and reward calm behavior. Let them know they are a good boy/girl with words and also physical praise.  It is okay to be over the top - it will let your dog know sitting, coming, staying, or just being calm and Zen - was a good thing, and encourage them to repeat it in the future. 

 

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How much exercise does my dog need?

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How much exercise does my dog need?

"How much exercise does my dog need?" We get this question a lot and the answer varies by the breed, temperament and age of the dog. Take the lovable, chubby, short-nosed breeds for example. An Old English Bulldog only needs as much exercise as he can physically handle. Some bulldogs can play, run and wrestle for quite a while, but others are happy with taking a walk around a few blocks. One thing is for certain, a bulldog is never going to lap a Viszla. Viszlas, German Short-Haired Pointers, Labs, Goldens, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Malinois and other similar working breeds are made to run and well, work. These dogs can literally keep up with their handlers all day long. They've been bred to be guard dogs, bomb dogs, scent tracking dogs, service dogs, bird dogs, rescue dogs and much more. They can work all day long and they absolutely love it. Now imagine taking that job away from them and not giving them the outlet to expend their energy. It has to go somewhere. These dogs have been bred for centuries to not only be our companions and look pretty, they've also been bred to go to have the brains, stamina and function to work by their humans' sides all day long. Unfortunately, it's not realistic for all of us to take our dogs to work (although there's some awesome companies that do allow it!), so our dogs wait at home for us while we go about our days. During this time, it's like a pot of boiling water with paws, waiting for us to come through the door so they can explode with energy and excitement. I probably shouldn't say this, because as a dog trainer I'm putting myself out of work, but I'd say 80% of behavioral problems simply come from a severe lack of exercise and mental stimulation. Plain and simple- modern dogs are bored out of their minds.

Growing up, we lived on a mini ranch in Temecula with no fences and our dogs had complete freedom. They were never ever cooped up in the house and they could go on adventures wherever they pleased. They could lay in the grass in front of our house all day under the willow trees, they could eat as much horse poop as they wanted and they could gorge themselves on avocados, which became quite a problem when the avocados were ripe and falling off the trees. Let's just say they were very pleasantly plump and shiny! The dogs walked themselves and ran around when they wanted to. They were never very hyper and they hardly ever got the crazies. They didn't have any behavioral problems (except for our dog Griffey got into a chicken coop one day and helped himself to a few). When Griffey was a puppy he also had a field day with a package dropped off by UPS full of my dad's robotic parts. Other than that, the dogs could be dogs and they were the best most well behaved dogs that I've ever met. Even more well behaved than my two goldens that I share my life with now. Why? Because they were free to be happy animals outside- running, playing, sniffing, smelling and exploring. It was totally and utterly completely natural. We must remind ourselves that dogs are not born as little humans with dog coats. They're also not born with built in knowledge about how to live in a human's house with humans who are pretty darn boring sitting in front of computer and tv screens. Naturally, a dog would pee wherever they want to outside, they would run to whatever they want to smell at the moment not constrained by a leash around their neck, and they would chew on whatever stick they could find. In our human world, we require them to be so subdued in the house. We want them to just lay there or cuddle with us and look cute (I'm so guilty of this). Most dogs are inside the majority of their lives with just a few quick potty breaks and maybe an hour walk around the neighborhood to break up the day.

We need to change this. We need to get our dogs outside more and get them closer to their natural habits. They need to be outside breathing in fresh air and stimulating their minds with socialization and adventures. Back to the original question of "How much exercise does my dog need?" the answer is- as much as possible especially when your dog is a puppy and full of energy and curiosity. Even if you have a short-nosed bulldog, he needs to have companionship, fresh air and mental stimulation. Even if it's just a car ride or a few hours hanging out with you while you do dog-friendly errands, he'll be so much happier and well behaved when you get home. For others with GSPs, GSDs or Viszlas, you better lace up those running shoes and start training for some marathons. You must work with your dog as a young puppy to be off-leash because your dog is going to run circles around you. You might run 5 miles on a trail, but your GSP is going to run 20 with all of the tracking and zig zagging he's going to do. Even better than taking your dog for a jog, is taking your dog to a dog park or to a friend's house to play with his or her dog. Wrestling, rolling around and chasing each other is the ultimate way to wear a puppy out. They're not only getting physically worn out, but also mentally. So many endorphins are released after a dog has played with his friends. They'll be panting with a happy face and a twinkle in their eye. If you have a dog who loves water like I do, take your dog to the beach, a lake, a pool, any body of water and let them swim. If you need any proof as to how natural and fun it is for a golden to go swimming, you must see this video . I dare you not to smile. In fact, I dare you to to do one thing that makes you incredibly happy and one thing that makes your dog incredibly happy everyday (bonus points if it makes both of you incredibly happy at the same time!). If that's too much to handle, make it weekly. Whatever you do, be sure to have fun with your best friend because life is short and sadly our dogs' lives are even shorter. All we can do is make the absolute best out of our time together and have as much fun possible doing it! Run, play, smile, explore and see the world from your dog's eyes. You'll be so happy you did!

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How to walk yourself on a leash.

A collar and leash on a dog seems so natural and most people wouldn't think twice about just throwing a collar on a puppy and pulling them out the door on a leash. However, it's important to remember that a collar and leash is far from natural for a dog to wear. Take both of your hands right now and tighten it around your neck, then try to push your head forward against your hands as if pulling against a leash. Notice how a little panic starts to set in when you feel like you can't breathe. Next, put a rope around your neck, or if you're really brave, a metal prong collar and a leash. Then ask a friend to lead you around wherever she wants to go. Next, walk past a bear that's on the loose, or better yet someone who's running at you with a knife and try to pull away from the leash. Not fun to be scared and choked at the same time with no where to run, eh? 334347_10150395193681397_2147061556_o

Some would say that I'm anthropomorphizing this scenario, but all I'm trying to do is put you in your dog's shoes, or paws, for a second. It makes me absolutely cringe to see people wildly yanking on leashes and dragging their dog around without proper cues or consistent directions.The key to a well behaved dog on a leash is to also be a well behaved human. Be consistent about which side you want your dog to walk on, hold the leash at the same length for walking in a heel position and let the leash out to the end when releasing your dog for a sniff and pee break. Teach your dog the heel command without a leash in your home at first by leading him around with a treat held by your side. Then introduce the leash in your home and each and every time your dog pulls, come a dead stop and wait till your dog takes the tension off and then move forward. Once your dog is understanding the concept of a loose leash and the heel command, start working outside with the same consistency and patience. Teach your dog to follow you by switching directions often. Teach your dog to give you attention when he is startled by a stimulus or when he is nervous around other dogs. Use the kissy noise, or a cue like "this way" when you want to switch directions or "wait" when you want to come to a stop.

Whatever you do, avoid a never ending game of tug-of-war and if you don't want your dog to pull on the leash, show him the same respect by not pulling on him. Think of the leash merely as a safety device, in fact, just wrap it around your waist if the habit to pull is so deeply engrained. Imagine in your head an invisible loose leash and use your signals with your voice, hands and body to convey that there is an invisible wall that extends from your side that your dog must not cross. Leave your phone at home or in your pocket when you take your dog for a walk. Majority of dogs, will take advantage of their human being distracted and will pull or lunge like crazy when their human is talking on the phone. It may take a long time to break the habit of pulling, but the proper tools, a lot of patience and a lot of understanding will have you well on the way to enjoying walks with your best friend again. We're here for you if you'd like to learn how to make walks fun again!

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5 Things I Am Very Thankful For...

My favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner with my family is sitting around the table holding hands and talking about what we are thankful for. Everyone is smiling, laughing and taking a moment to reflect on everything good in their lives. As this year is coming to a close I want to share with you 5 things that I am so very thankful for and I would love to hear what you are thankful for! 1) My family- both furry and non-furry. Family is everything to me and I am so grateful that I have such a wonderful loving family. I have the best mom and business partner in the world. I am so grateful to have her as part of my everyday life. I'm grateful that I live with my big "little" brother who is always there for me. I'm grateful for my dad and his corny sense of humor who showed me what it means to work hard and be brave enough to have your own business. I'm also grateful for my sweet loving boyfriend who loves dogs and all other animals as much as I do and who puts up with my crazy doggy lifestyle. I love my whole family so much and I'm so thankful for each and every one of them. I'm  also so very grateful for all of my awesome friends who are my extended family and for the DogZenergy team who I love like family. I'm so fortunate that all of our DogZenergy team members are so dedicated and so devoted to all of the dogs that we take care of.

2) It goes without question that I am so eternally grateful to dogs for being at the center of my life. Life without dogs would be so sad and empty. My dogs Daisy and Taj mean the world to me and make life worth living! They have taught me more about love, patience, responsibility, playing, cuddling, laughing and living, more than any other creatures. I'm so grateful for my extended family of dogs that we take care of everyday. Working with dogs is humbling, exciting, always different, always challenging and always an adventure. Thank you thank you to all of the dogs that have come into my life because each and every one of them have taught me lessons about people, myself and the experience of living on this planet in the moment.

3) I'm so grateful to live in La Jolla and to be part of such a close, special community for the last 7 years. There's no other place quite like La Jolla. The people who live here are so kind, helpful,  happy and wonderful. I want to thank the people of this community for embracing DogZenergy and letting us be part of their lives. DogZenergy wouldn't be where it is today without the support of all of our loyal customers. I want to thank all of our customers for being more than just clients and for embracing us like family and friends. I've learned so much from all of you and have appreciated all of your stories about life and business. Who needs business school when you have clients that are so willing to help and share their experiences?! Thank you so much to all of you!

4) This may seem cliche, but I'm so thankful for good health and my family's health. As some of you may know my mom had a big surgery a few months ago and she's doing so well now. I'm so thankful that she's living without pain now and that she can start living life to the fullest! I love her so much and I'm so happy that she's feeling better now.

5) I am thankful for every single day and I'm so thankful that my days are filled with dogs, laughter and happiness. This last year has been very challenging both in business and my personal life, but I've learned a lot about the power of the mind and looking at life in a positive light. I love the saying, "Happiness is not a destination, it is a way of life." Learning how to accept the "rough" days as challenges and to embrace difficult things as lessons is a mental practice that involves daily training. Through training dogs, I've learned that I need to actively and consistently train my own mind to stay positive and be responsible for my own happiness. I've found that being grateful for all of the things in my life on a daily basis is the best training exercise for a happy mind and a happy life.

A huge thanks to all of the DogZenergy dogs and their amazing humans! Happy Thanksgiving!

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The 4 Noble Truths of Dog Training

Whenever I think about dogs being "Zen" for some reason I think about a really mellow, pudgy pug sitting up with his Buddha belly hanging out and his little legs stretched out in front of him. It makes me smile when I think of such strange things. Today, I've also been thinking about Zen Buddhism's Four Noble Truths and how these principles can be applied to dog training.

In his book, The Four Noble Truths, Tashi Tsering Geshe explores the foundation of Buddhism by taking a closer look at the truths by which one can follow on their path toward enlightenment. They are as follows:
1) The truth of suffering
2) The truth of the cause of suffering
3) The truth of the end of suffering
4) The truth of the path that frees us from suffering

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