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August 1, 2023
A unique approach to dog training
Everyone wants to live a calm and balanced life with their dog, but that does not always come easy.
Cherisse Feddock was a stay-at-home mother and an avid volunteer at the Humane League of Lancaster when she began to wonder about a different approach to dog training. With more than 40 dogs on her fostering resume and several of her own at home, she often found that common obedience training was not working for the dogs she cared for.
A passionate animal lover, Cherisse began researching more about dog psychology, the nature of canines as a species, and better ways to train. She took it upon herself to connect with nationally recognized dog trainers who specialized in behavioral dog training.
After seeing how a calm and instinctual approach to training could change dogs’ lives, she was inspired to start her own business—The Zen Dog Den—in 2015.
Behavioral training, Cherisse shared, is rooted in understanding dogs’ core needs, recognizing that as both den and pack animals, dogs are hardwired to desire confident and consistent leadership.
Cherisse’s approach at The Zen Dog Den stresses the importance of building the right relationship with your dog. She equates the relationship to one of teacher and student—teachers care for students, but they have rules and boundaries that keep students safe and enable their learning.
Her approach does not rely heavily on verbal commands or treats, two things which can excite dogs. Instead, she takes a calm and gentle approach to correct unwanted behaviors and reward calm behaviors.
“When you talk to a dog, you create excitement because they don’t understand our language—they understand energy,” she said. One of the elements she loves most about her work is helping people and their dogs find a common language.
Behaviors like jumping, barking, counter surfing, and leash pulling are all indicators of over-excitement, she shared. Clients come to The Zen Dog Den to help their dogs find a calmer state of mind. Whether clients have a brand new puppy they want to start off on the right foot or an adult dog struggling with reactivity and aggression, they will be met with empathy and experience at The Zen Dog Den.
From her years in the industry, Cherisse can attest that dogs actually pick up behavioral training more easily since it caters to their own psychology and is geared towards their natural instincts.
“We don’t use the words ‘fix’ or ‘solve’ because they aren’t robots. They are living beings,” Cherisse said. “Our training is based on respect for these majestic creatures.”
With more than eight years of leading her team at The Zen Dog Den under her belt, she shares her love for both canines and this type of training is what has kept her going.
“This training requires follow through and a lifelong investment in your dog. When you are patient and consistent with methods your dog understands—the result is really profound,” Cherisse said.
The Zen Dog Den offers two options for their behavioral training programs—sessions with you and your dog in the comfort of your home, as well as stay and train programs where they receive one-on-one attention in a Zen Dog trainer’s care. Their team helps you find a program that aligns with your training goals.
And dogs become part of The Zen Dog Den family for life. Cherisse and her team even host weekly pack walks for past and present clients at a local park, where owners and dogs can come practice loose leash walking around distractions. More seasoned dogs model good behavior for newer clients, and the whole pack benefits.
“Dogs change so much, and we never want our clients to scratch their heads and say, ‘What do I do?’” Cherisse explained. “Instead of struggling, we want our clients to call us.”
Are you and your dog ready to learn more? Sign up for your first session at thezendogden.com.