THE FIVE PRECEPTS OF THE ZEN DOG


PHILOSOPHY : All relationships being based on Respect, Trust and Love

Our intention is to interact with every dog, client, vendor, supporter, competitor and each other in this way. We must RESPECT all for who they are, earn their TRUST and LOVE them accordingly. This also extends to those we have not met.

Though it is a prudent business model, money is not our primary motive. We do this because it creates a mindfulness that promotes peace rather than conflict. It encourages us to be in the right relationship with dogs, our selves and others. Ultimately it is our mandate to become a safe place for all to turn to.


APPROACH : Process, Patience, Prosperity

To undertake this PROCESS we must commit to it. We begin by becoming honest with ourselves about our motives, of ego, money, power, control, emotional wants and so on. The path of personal truth begins with the admission of truth to ones self.

Inherent in this journey is PATIENCE, one of those higher qualities we usually gain through the frustrating awareness that we lack it. Those who seek patience in earnest will be given many opportunities to practice it, by the dogs and our own limitations. Patience is required to gain the experience needed to know prosperity.

PROSPERITY is success in reality (“success” being a common bastardization). Prosperity is an experience, a general state of being wherein good things come easily. The divine dichotomy here is that it will require a tremendous amount of effort for this to happen. And then, one day, you will find yourself intuitively handling situations with dogs that used to baffle you. Through prosperity one begins to consider that only good can come out of any given situation. Success is an end game, prosperity is how the game is played and sustainable prosperity is zen.


RELATIONSHIP : Respect, Trust, and Love

RESPECT comes first for dogs. We need to see them for who they are, not who we want them to be and not necessarily for what they are showing us. We can do this by focusing on their needs. In time this will earn us their trust.

TRUST is the foundation of any healthy relationship. It’s where we feel safe. When we assume trust dogs and people get hurt. When we violate trust we need to reexamine our motives, put the dogs’ needs first and begin again. As we build trust we become free to love.

LOVE conquers all, including the need to conquer. At THE ZEN DOG love is a practical application where leadership, boundaries and discipline are the natural order. Love is not dictated by emotion nor swayed by the circumstances. It is a non-negotiable sense of belonging. We become loyal to the greater good, conscious members of our pack. Many of us approach our dog relationships backwards. For example, we “love our dogs so much” but we don’t quite trust them and they don’t completely respect us. If you look you’ll see we do the same in our human relationships.


ENGAGEMENT : Energy, Sound and Touch

ENERGY is the one language that every species on the planet speaks. Humans do it more poorly than anyone, women tend to do it better than men, new parents are intuitively better than many. Energy is the most powerful form of communication; it is instant, creative and often overwhelming, especially where love and fear are concerned. Humans usually refer to energy as “vibe, feel, sense or intuition”. In communicating with dogs the conscious exchange of energy begins with our own state of mind. Dogs can know our intentions well before we’ve said ‘hello’. Energy is is often employed in direct interaction through stillness, deliberate eye contact/avoidance and the respecting of physical boundaries. Energy dictates motion, behavior, thinking, action and reaction. We are always speaking the language of energy. In fact, close to 94% of all human communication is non-verbal. Unfortunately we base most of our relationships on what is being said or heard. This leads to great disappointment.

SOUND is energy, vocalized. It is a very effective tool in creating or correcting a dog’s behavior, thinking and energy. When we use our sounds we hone sensitive aspects of communication that are personal only to our dogs; this is how every dog knows its leader’s call/whistle. Here a dog learns to follow directions less because of the direction and more because of the person who gave it.

TOUCH is a vital part of how we engage with our dogs. However it can be the weakest form of communication, especially when correcting or praising a dog. There is a clear link between handling dogs aggressively and their subsequent potential for violence, especially toward other dogs. Studies are also showing that children who witness the aggressive touching of dogs are more prone to acts of violence themselves. What’s more surprising is the number of dogs who are being driven to aggression because their owners are lavishing them with affection. Whatever challenges we face with dogs our intention should always be to serve the greater good.


CONCERNS : Communication, Clarity, Consistency

COMMUNICATION is the essence of a successful pack. It is quite difficult to be in right relationship, with dogs, our selves and each other without proper communication. At THE ZEN DOG we ask for honest, open-minded exchanges to in order to create the best possible outcome for all our packs. We are challenged by the fact that listening is a skill that doesn’t come naturally to many of us. The unwillingness to remain teachable prevents us from following direction and crumbles the pack. Most any mistake between dogs and people can be saved through communication, clarity and consistency. Always communicate your intention before you act.

CLARITY is the harbinger of success, the template from which prosperity is designed. Clarity creates safety, trust and accountability in our human/dog packs. Practically every dog injury we’ve seen has been due to a lack of human clarity. This lack of clarity is called vagueness and it can be fatal in our work. A common reason for vagueness is fear of the truth: we are afraid to ask for help because we think we should know better, afraid to confront our own limitations, afraid of getting hurt. So rather than gain clarity we choose more vagueness, to avoid the discomfort of our reality. Ironically when we do this we end up experiencing exactly what we didn’t want to. Clarity proves the there is no such thing as the “brutal truth”. The truth is only brutal to the extent that we have to deny it.

CONSISTENCY is the practice of discipline. It’s willingness in action. Consistency is a conscious commitment to place order over confusion, clarity over vagueness and the greater good over personal gain. It is the choice to follow direction no matter what our minds and emotions tell us. A proper pack, be it human or dog, cannot sustain itself without consistency. Every living being is genetically wired for consistency, it’s our blueprint for survival. Humans seem to be the only species that choose to defy that. This leads to all kinds of trouble in working with dogs and each other. A consistent person doesn’t need to tell us so, it will be obvious in the way they carry themselves.