Help for Hope

Thank you for your interest in the way of THE ZEN DOG, where there are no bad dogs. We know that time is of the essence for some of you and understand that you may even be in a dangerous situation with your dog. Our intention here is to give you some simple, safe suggestions to try with your dog(s) that can help show you what’s possible.

At THE ZEN DOG we know that the best way to change a dog’s behavior is to change one’s relationship with the dog. You’d be surprised how many dog owners say that they have great relationships with their dogs yet see no connection between their dogs’ behavior and their own. So until we get a chance to work together here’s what we recommend:

Practice Detachment. The 3 areas to focus on are Affection, Bed and Front Door. What does that look like?

Affection: Do not give your dog affection (verbal or physical) unless your dog is calm; calm meaning it looks ZEN (like it’s about to fall asleep). For the time being, do not give your dog treats. Science has shown that the reward system in a dog’s brain responds more to the recognition of and affection from its human than any other treat. Consider your affection to be the best treat your dog can have. This means that when and how you give affection will greatly influence your dog’s behavior, especially its ability to calm itself down.

Front Door: Do not engage with (make eye contact, speak to or touch) your dogs until they appear ZEN (like they are about to fall asleep). When your dog is ZEN, give it calm, simple verbal praise first before you touch it. You should only pet your dog if it remains calm. Think of this like a big game of ‘Red Light - Green Light’: Calm means “green”, anything other than ZEN means “red”. Remember, when and how you give affection will greatly influence your dog’s behavior, especially its ability to calm itself down.

Keep your dogs off the bed at all times: “Altitude is attitude”. Dogs do not need to be on human’s beds (medical conditions excepted, of course). Dogs end up on our beds because we want them there. Want- based relationships will lead to impulsivity in dogs, need-based relationships will lead to security. Notice that an insecure dog will often find a higher place to be (beds, couch, stairs, top of a landing, etc.) to establish rank, status or propriety. So...how can you keep your dog off the bed?

  1. Contain or crate him/her in the bedroom at night so it can’t get on the bed.

  2. Allow your dog(s) to sleep freely in your bedroom with the understanding that every time they get

    on your bed you will a) politely ask them kindly to get off and b) be sure to praise them when they do. Do not bend on this. Your dog will be looking for you to give in, and if you do he/she will not forget it ;->

  3. Do a seven day reset: keep the bedroom door closed at all times so your dog(s) don’t have the opportunity to get on the bed. Choose another comfortable, secure place in the home for the dog(s) to sleep. After seven days you may allow your dog(s) to return to the bedroom, to have them sleep in/on a dedicated space (crate, pen, or a bed on the floor of the bedroom). After the seven day reset if your dog is still jumping on the bed a) politely ask them kindly to get off and b) be sure to praise them when they do. Do not bend on this. Your dog will be looking for you to give in, and if you do he/she will not forget it ;-> Stick with it. It will probably be easier for your dog than you think, and harder for you than you expected. If it helps, you should know that Matt once had three of his dogs on his bed. Once he changed they began to change.

Remember, there are no bad dogs, just humans who need help. THE ZEN DOG is here to help you!