Training Game 3.2

Doggie Zen Level 1

A zen-dog is a pleasure to live with because he has learned that good things come to dogs who wait.

The zen-dog doesn’t steal food or belongings, the zen-dog doesn’t snatch things out of hands, the zen-dog doesn’t jump up on people or counters to grab food or items, the zen-dog doesn’t steal from your plate, even when you leave it down within reach.

The zen-dog waits patiently, asks nicely and behaves politely to get the things he wants.

Would you like a zen-dog? You’re in the right place…


We are going to build on our NO mugging rule by teaching our dog, that to get the food in your hand, be patient and polite.

Today’s Games

Time Allowance:
Practice for 1-2 minute sessions and then take a break. Have a few  sessions today.

Try fitting  each short session into your routine; for example, while you wait for the kettle to boil, during the ad break of your TV show or while you wait for the computer to start up.

Family Participation:
This exercise is for adults only!

Top Tip for Today’s Training Games:
Notice that we don’t ask our dog to do anything here at all – no talking!

This is about self-control – we are working on a default here so you never need to ask for polite behaviour when you have things your dog wants – he just does it!

Remember, if your dog gets stuck with any of our exercises this week, think of ways that you can make it easier for him to succeed and then build again more gradually.


Zen Level 1:

  • hold some food rewards in your palm
  • if your dog approaches your palm, close your fist
  • if your dog attempts to mouth or paw your fist withdraw your hand by bending at the elbow
  • when your dog stops, re-present your open palm
  • repeat as needed
  • as soon as you notice your dog chooses not to move toward the treat or showing any of the behaviours on his polite list, offer him the food

Start working on this exercise with just your dog’s regular food in your closed fist and as he improves increase the value of the food rewards.

It’s best to start with this exercise while sitting on a chair or sofa.


Level 1 Challenge:

  • try to build the time your dog leaves the treat in your palm – just a one count at a time
  • as you progress, you might notice that your dog looks away from the treat to you (“hey! gimme my treat!”)
  • reward that – being able to look away from something they really want and give you eye contact is a great start (“please, may I have the treat?”)



That’s the first step toward your dog becoming a zen-dog!