Training Game 3.6

Living the Doggie-Zen Life


Doggie zen is not just for training exercises; any time your dog wants access to something rewarding, have a close look at him…

He might want:

  • sniffing
  • greeting
  • going out
  • coming in
  • lead on
  • lead off
  • dinner
  • attention
  • anything else your dog may want at that moment

Quietly wait for your dog to choose calm & polite behaviour, and then allow him access to the reward.

IMG_6813 (1)

This weekend start to apply zen exercises to the situations in which your dog acts impulsively, impatiently or is a little bit demanding.

Zen for stealing from counters:

  • Set up Level 2 zen on a counter that your dog may steal from – except reward with a different, high value food reward than the one on the counter
  • With progress, set up Level 3 zen on the counter – except reward with a different, high value food reward than the one on the counter

Now let’s challenge your training…

  • set up Level 2 zen on the counter
  • take a step away and return
  • reward your zen dog with a different, high value reward than the food on the counter
  • build the number of steps you take away from the counter

To work out of sight you will need to set up a mirror so that you know that your dog is a zen-dog!

Zen for pulling on lead

  • Have your dog on his collar and lead, in the house or garden (low distraction situation)
  • Hold the lead by passing your hand through the loop and gripping below your wrist.
  • Brace yourself as your dog may pull…
  • Toss a food reward out of your dog’s reach.
  • Don’t move, don’t talk to your dog, don’t use your lead – just wait
  • As soon as your dog loosens the pressure on the lead say YES!
  • Bound forward to allow him to get to the tossed treat.


You can apply this to walking your dog too – pressure on the lead turns the red light on and everything stops. Wait for your dog to relieve the pressure to continue your walk.

Zen for grabbing food or other dropped items off the floor

  • Play Level 2 zen on the floor.
  • After some success drop the treat from a couple of cm off the floor
  • Reward your dog with a different, high value reward than the one that you dropped.
  • With each success, drop the floor another couple of cm but build very gradually.


Zen for stealing socks, tissues or other stolen items

  • Work through zen levels 1-4 using your dog’s favourite stealables


It’s up to your dog to choose zen

Teaching your dog to be a zen-dog is about teaching him that he  always has choices.

Your dog can grab that treat during Level 1 or 2 games – he’s quicker and more motivated than you are – but you are showing him that there are other things he can do to get what he wants.

Zen-dogs get the things they like and it’s their choice!