Matt Beisner, of The Zen Dog, truly believes there “are no bad dogs.” He believes there are dogs who are not living in the correct environment and there are pet parents who simply need to give themselves the grace to realize they understand their dog may be happier in a new home.

Beisner said, “Sometimes a dog and his current family simply aren’t a good fit. Their family may not be willing to change routines that might help the dog or they simply cannot handle the dog. In that instance, it is best for the dog to find a new family.” He shared there is no blame or fault to a family who simply might need to rehome an aggressive dog. “Everyone in the house needs to be safe. That is even more important when there are children involved.” 

There Are No Bad Dogs

This was the case with actress Lena Dunham and her rescue dog, Lamby. The dog was terrified and aggressive. Matt and his team worked with the two of them; they also took Lamby into our facility so they could work solo with him to help curb his aggression. Eventually, Dunham made the heart-wrenching decision to rehome Lamby — he went to live with one of the Zen Dog trainers. “Lena received a lot of negative feedback about rehoming her dog, but we pointed out that there are times a human and a dog aren’t a good fit and never will be. You can’t place blame on the dog or the dog owner who has made an extremely difficult decision to do what’s best for the dog for the long-term.” 

Dunham was vocal in her talking about her struggles with Lamby and about how much Matt and his team helped. Matt said his phone hasn’t stopped ringing since he worked with her.

Matt, who had been afraid of dogs for close to thirty years said he was at a point in his life when he was undergoing a personal transformation. “I realized that ninety percent of my life was fear-based,” he said. “I then noticed that my then-girlfriend’s dog was lashing out at me out of fear. We were both aggressive and were driving friends and family away.”

He decided to work with the dog and the two of them overcame past fears and aggressions. “I am self taught. I read books, watched training videos and talked with professionals like Dr. Ian Dunbar,” he said.

Detachment

One of the teaching methods used is to practice detachment. “It’s not easy for a dog owner to “detach” from his or her dog, but when working through aggressive behaviors, it’s necessary.”

The dog owner needs to understand the importance of ignoring his or her dog until the dog calms down. “You can’t work with a dog who is starting out at a level ten aggression or fear. You need to ignore them, detach from them, until they are calmed down a level two or three.” Only then, he said, can you work through the fear the dog is displaying and likely the fear the pet parent is feeling.

Here are rules to relationships with dogs and their owners

  1. Respect
  2. Trust
  3. Love 

Before they work with an aggressive dog they follow three rules of engagement: 

  1. Energy
  2. Sound
  3. Touch 

 Matt said, “We need to respect the dog and his boundaries. We need to understand that just because we want to pet the dog, he may not want to be petted. The relationship needs to be give and take in order for it to work.”

His Nat Geo WILD show, “Dog: Impossible” came about as a result of his work with Dunham and others.