“Zen” suggests many things. A Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism that emphasizes the value of meditation. A state of calm attentiveness in which one’s actions are guided by intuition rather than conscious effort. A slangier definition might be a feeling of peace and relaxation, as in “having a zen moment”. Being “zen” might mean having awareness in the present moment, which will help release you from anxiety, frustration, stress and anger. A popular and useful dog training technique, which will be discussed in detail in my upcoming online dog trainer course.
A dog training technique?
“Dog Zen”, “Doggie Zen” and “Puppy Zen” are common names for this class of training techniques that have been hanging around for about 50 years now. The basic concept involves identifying and isolating a tiny bit of your dog’s impulsive behavior, and then manipulating the environment over and over again until that impulse comes under cognitive control.
Now for just a little bit of “dog psychology.” Impulses and emotions are produced in the mid-brain, the baby brain, the puppy brain. In order for any individual, human or canine, to attain impulse control, otherwise known as self-control, the part of the brain that thinks and makes decisions (the cortex) has to learn to exert control over the small, but very influential mid-brain. Once the cortex, the center of cognitive processing, gains control over the impulses, the individual is relieved of the stress and frustration that may be associated with the almost reflexive responses that occur when random stuff in the world triggers mostly unwanted behaviors.
Impulsivity is responsible for such problems as counter-surfing, dumpster-diving, jumping up for greetings, hyper-excitability, and door-dashing, among others. Now, we’re not claiming that Zen will cure all these problems, but it will give your dog the foundation and life skills on which specific training will certainly be more successful.
Zen works for all dogs, all breeds, all ages. The techniques are simple to teach and practice, and some form of Zen can be incorporated into many different types of interactions with your dog, including feeding, leash walking, and play. You can get Zen just by making a few small changes in the way you manage and interact with your dog. Zen is simple enough for even a small child to learn.
Ready to get started? In just 90 minutes, you can become a Dog Zen master, and attain the skills and knowledge you need to incorporate these important strategies into your life with your dog! Visit http://raisingcanine.com/course/zen/ and sign up for my online dog trainer course, Getting Centered on Zen.
Barbara Davis, CDBC has been a dog trainer and behavior consultant for over 35 years. Barbara is a founding member of IAABC (International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants), and has been Dog Division Chair since 2013. Committed to continuing education, she is faculty mentor for IAABC’s acclaimed Animal Behavior Consulting: Principles & Practice course, and in to her online dog trainer course, she offers many other workshops and seminars through her business in southern California.