Please Help (a dog trainers dilemma)

Imagine, you get a phone call or perhaps an email from a frantic person. This person tells you they have a problem (A huge problem) and they were given your name by someone who knows you and knows you possess knowledge to help. This person says they have tried everything to solve this problem to no avail. They give you all of the details of the said problem and then say, I need your help desperately or I am going to do something rash! Many people would immediately want to help, especially if they had specific knowledge on how to solve this persons problem, right?

You tell the person that you can help and schedule to meet them. You take the information and tools necessary to help solve their problem. You arrive and meet the person and explain your specific knowledge with this said problem and they seem delighted and relieved by the information you give them. You then tell them how to use the information to help their situation. They have an excuse as to why they cannot do it or why your specific tools won’t work for them. You offer different solutions, all knowledgeable, that can work yet all are countered with an excuse from the person. They want you to fix the problem without taking any of the information you offer. “Maybe, you could take the problem home, keep it for a while and bring it back when you have solved it? ” they say.

Later, when you have given all of the information necessary to fix their said problem, you find out they did end up doing something rash and saying they “tried everything, even went to you for information and nothing worked”, they had no choice.

How would that make you feel? Think about it. It is utterly ridiculous, makes absolutely no sense. Clearly they didn’t want a solution to their problem and were going to do something rash regardless if you helped or not! They didn’t want your help, only to complain, to make it look like they did something so they could feel better when they did the “rash” thing.

Welcome to dog training!

Ask any dog trainer what their most difficult problem is and I guarantee you, it won’t be the dog. The above scenario happens more often than we like. People contacting us with dog training issues but not wanting to implement anything we offer. Just fix the dog. Don’t get me wrong, not all clients are like this and some will do the work needed but sadly, a vast majority will not. I assume this is because everyone has an opinion on dogs and dog training rather they have studied dog training or not. You can get dog training opinions from your neighbor, your uncle, your friends, pretty much everyone who has owned a dog. Therefore, I think people also take the information given by dog trainers as just that , an opinion, rather than educated training advice.

When giving dog training information to a client, trainers give instruction on what the person needs to do to get the desired effect from their dog. The person has to change before the dog ever will. Sadly, many people just want the dog to change.

Trainers are often contacted by owners saying that the dog in question is out of control, they have tried everything, they are at their wit’s end and if something doesn’t happen the dog will be sent to rescue, a shelter, or euthanized!

When a trainer arrives at a person’s home they will offer several suggestions on how to fix the behavior, often times with push back. Let me explain in greater detail. Please note this is not all of what dog training encompasses but a quick summary.

There are 4 quadrants of operant conditioning in dog training that dog trainers follow. and you can read about them here. for the purpose of this blog post you just need to know that dog training is primarily based on motivation. You have to motivate a dog one way or another, either positively or negatively.

All trainers generally start with positive reinforcement as it is the least invasive, minimally aversive type of reinforcement. Some trainers use “all” positive reinforcement and no other. All training needs to incorporate some form of positive reinforcement to motivate the dog to do what you want. Positive reinforcement, when used correctly, along with timing and consistency, helps to motivate the dog to do what is expected and works very well for many dogs. Positive reinforcement needs to be used frequently in the beginning stages of training, tapering off once the dog has learned a behavior. Even though there are many studies and articles published on the effects of positive reinforcement in animal training, dog trainers are often told by owners ” I don’t want to be dolling out cookies all day”

If a dog is doing something that could pose a threat to himself or others such as car chasing, bicycle chasing or leash aggression, along with positive reinforcement to teach engagement with the handler, counter conditioning and desensitization, often times a training collar will be needed. A training collar could be a martingale, prong collar or e-collar. All are tools that “if used correctly”, rarely have to be used at all. These tools motivate the dog to stop doing something it shouldn’t be doing with a negative consequence. These are tools that need to be implemented with a trainers supervision and in combination with positive reinforcement can work very well for these types of behaviors , yet trainers are often told the owner “WILL NOT ” use a training collar.

Management should also be used during the training process but is also the only other option a person has if they refuse to use any form of reinforcement. Management simply means, keeping the dog out of situations that you know spark the response. It includes using baby gates, pens, kennels or fences to manage the dog. Management does not fix the problem, rather just manages the dogs behavior. It still takes work. Many trainers are told for different reasons, that the owner doesn’t want to contain their dog in a kennel or pen or behind a gate.

Often times, I guess due to human nature, a client goes through a trainers program, progress is being made yet still slacks off and goes back to their old ways, only to find the dog doing the same.

Many times I have gone to a clients house after several training sessions and find they are not wearing their treat pouch to positively reinforce good behaviors, they have changed the training collar to a harness which actually motivates a dog to pull, they stopped using their kennel to manage certain situations, and they no longer practice daily with the dog on the things they were taught such as obedience, leash walking and exercise, Then say………”I’m afraid, it’s not working.”

So, what is a trainer to do if the owner is unwilling to use positive reinforcement, positive punishment, management or anything we suggest? Welcome to the dilemma!

This is why many dog trainers do not take clients with behavioral problems or instead focus on teaching different classes such as obedience, agility or sport dog. When dealing with changing a dogs behavior, you are more than often dealing with changing the humans behavior, and that is much harder to do…..

So what am I saying, what is my point? I guess this is a plea to people with dog behavioral issues everywhere, help us help you!

Before you hire a trainer, research what kind of trainer they are, how knowledgeable they are and what their experience level is. Once you pick a trainer, regardless of what you have been told by non dog training people, listen to what they have to say, implement the training advice, and do the work….all of it! Don’t rule something out because of what you think about it based on what someone else said, without having any experience with it.

Dogs are not plug and play and all need some form of training, some more than others. When hiring a trainer don’t think he or she is there to fix the dog. They are there to teach you how to behave so your dog behaves. Realize there will be a lot of work on your part and……DO THE WORK! Help us, help you!

Cindy Quigley is a Canine life cycle coach, and pet stylist. She is the owner of Supermutts.com and author of Puppy Montessori. She has 23 years’ experience professionally working with dogs. She has worked in grooming shops, boarding facilities and veterinary hospitals, all of which taught her how to read canine body language and understand dog handling. As boarding and daycare facility owners together with her husband Kenneth she has cared for thousands of dogs and has thousands of hours observing, studying and modifying canine behavior.

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Making sense of operant conditioning

For those who read our article Please help.

When it comes to dog training, dog trainers use what is called Operant conditioning. While many people become confused when they hear the word operant conditioning, the principles and categories are actually pretty straightforward.

Operant conditioning, or trial and error learning, is simply a description of how animals learn, a description that requires a few important definitions.  I have found that the best and most easily understood description regarding the 4 quadrants of operant conditioning is by Dr. Sophia Yin from her book How to behave so your dog behaves.

from How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves by Dr. Sophia Yin)

Reinforcement vs Punishment

The first two definitions to know are reinforcement and punishment. Reinforcement is anything that increases the likelihood that a behavior will occur again. For instance, if you call your dog and then give him a treat when he comes, he will be more likely to come the next time you call. Thus, by giving him a treat for coming, you reinforce his behavior of coming when called.

Punishment is anything that decreases the likelihood that a behavior will occur again. For instance, if you call your dog and then yell and scream at him when he comes, he will be less likely to come the next time you call. Thus, by yelling at him, you punish his behavior of coming when called. This second scenario may seem an unlikely event, but it happens to people every day. When owners call Rover five or six times before he comes running and then yell at him for taking his time, they are really punishing him for coming when called.

Positive vs Negative

The second set of terms to know are positive and negative. Positive and negative do not mean good or bad; instead, think of them as a plus sign or a minus sign. Positive means that you’re adding something, and negative means you’re subtracting something. Positive and negative can be applied to both reinforcement and punishment.

Combining the Terms

Now we can combine the terms into four categories—positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment. Here’s what the categories are:

Positive and Negative Reinforcement

Reinforcement can be positive or negative. In either case, we are increasing the likelihood the behavior will occur again. Positive reinforcement means that by adding something the animal wants, you increase the likelihood that the behavior will occur again. For instance, if you teach your dog to come to you by giving him a treat when he comes, you’re using positive reinforcement. By giving him food, which he likes, you’re increasing the likelihood that he will come to you the next time too.

Negative reinforcement means that by removing something aversive, something Fido dislikes, you increase the likelihood the behavior will occur again. For example, you decide to teach Fido to come by putting him on a leash and choke chain. You pull on his leash until he takes a step forward, and as soon as he comes forward, you release the pressure. That is using negative reinforcement. By removing the pressure as soon as he starts coming, you increase the likelihood that he will come the next time in order to avoid the pulling.

Another trick for remembering negative reinforcement is to think of it as nagging. When I was a child and my mother wanted me clean my room, she often had to keep telling me until I cleaned it. I would finally clean my room in order to avoid her aversive nagging.

Positive and Negative Punishment

Punishment can be positive or negative, too. In either case we are decreasing the likelihood the behavior will occur again.  It seems odd, but when we talk about punishment, we’re usually talking about positive punishment. Positive punishment just means that by adding something aversive, we decrease the likelihood that the behavior will occur again. For instance, your dog raids the garbage can when you’re not looking, so you booby-trap the garbage with mousetraps. The next time Spot sticks his nose in search of a snack, he gets a mousetrap surprise, which scares him. This booby trap decreases the likelihood that he will raid the garbage can again; thus, it is positive punishment.

Negative punishment means that by removing something the animal wants, we decrease the likelihood that the behavior will occur again. For instance, when dogs greet us by jumping, their goal is to get our attention. If we remove our attention every time Spot jumps by holding perfectly still and even looking away, eventually he will stop jumping. By removing the attention that he wanted, we decrease the likelihood that he will jump again.

 

Cindy Quigley is a Canine life cycle coach, and pet stylist. She is the owner of  Supermutts.com and author of Puppy Montessori. She has 23 years’ experience professionally working with dogs.  She has worked in grooming shops, boarding facilities and veterinary hospitals, all of which taught her how to read canine body language and understand dog handling. As boarding and daycare facility owners together with her husband Kenneth she has cared for thousands of dogs and has thousands of hours observing, studying and modifying canine behavior. 

 

Ask the coach – What breed of dog is hypoallergenic?

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Dear Super Mutts, I have a 6 year old son who wants a dog but has allergies to dogs and cats. I would like him to experience the joy of having a pet, he likes bulldogs but I have read that they shed a lot and are not good for people with allergies.  I also do not want to purchase a dog only to have to rehome it if he is allergic.  What breed is  truly hypoallergenic?  Thanks for any help, Amy

Thanks Amy, this is a great question.  Children love pets and when they have allergies to them it is no fun at all. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, as much as 10% of the U.S. population is allergic to dogs. Pets are great for children not only for the companionship and joy they bring but also to help teach responsibility of caring for another living being.

There is a lot of talk about “hypoallergenic” breeds out there today but in fact no pet is 100% hypoallergenic. Many people assume that it is  pets fur that cause allergies, when in all actuality it is pet dander, not fur that causes allergic reaction.  Pets that shed considerably such as Bulldogs, Pugs, Dalmatians, and Labrador retrievers , shed dander along with the fur so produce a more allergic response in allergy sufferers.  Generally, the curly coated breeds and some hairless ones, that shed little to no fur, shed less dander so produce less of an allergic reaction but all pets have dander.    It depends on how allergic your son is to the dander as to what breed is best for you.

My suggestion is to research the “less” allergenic dogs and pick one with the size, temperament, grooming requirements, and energy level for your family.  You can find a list of the common breeds here https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/hypoallergenic-dogs/   Keep in mind, curly coated breeds have extensive grooming needs that will require time and a monetary budget on your part.  Some breeds have a better reputation with children than others, so keep that in mind as well.

Most breeds have a rescue group associated with them, find a rescue group of the breed you are interested in and contact them.  Explain your situation and ask if you can do a “test drive” before you adopt, which most rescues require anyway. Don’t be afraid to consider mixed breed curly coated dogs as well.   If your child has a reaction, you can give the dog back to the rescue without any issues.  If he doesn’t have an allergic reaction, you get a new family member and a dog that desperately needs a home gets a new family!   Win/win! 

For more information on how to care for your new furry friend, visit our website www.supermutts.com I wish you luck on finding a new buddy for your son!

Cindy Quigley is a Canine life cycle coach, and pet stylist. She is the owner of  Supermutts.com and author of Puppy Montessori. She has 23 years’ experience professionally working with dogs.  She has worked in grooming shops, boarding facilities and veterinary hospitals, all of which taught her how to read canine body language and understand dog handling. As boarding and daycare facility owners together with her husband Kenneth she has cared for thousands of dogs and has thousands of hours observing, studying and modifying canine behavior. 

Ask the coach -What age should you start grooming your new puppy?

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Todays ask the coach question comes from Kathy and she asks,

“At what age should I have my new Shih-tzu puppy groomed?  We just adopted an 8 week old male shih-Tzu and have been told he will need grooming. His fur is currently short and doesn’t seem to need grooming yet.  Someone also said we should wait until he has had all of his vaccinations before we have him groomed by a professional.  What is the best age to start grooming our puppy?

This is a great question and one that we not only get asked frequently but also one that creates confusion for new puppy parents. The short answer , and this is critical – “AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!”  The key is to find a groomer that is experienced in how to socialize the puppy to the grooming process in a positive, low stress way.

Regardless of the breed, all dogs need some form of grooming.  To maintain good health and coat, all dogs need at least to be brushed, bathed, and have their ears cleaned and toe nails trimmed.  Ear infections are common in dogs and are very painful, keeping your pets ears cleaned will help prevent this.  Nails that become too long may deform the feet, make it hard for the dog to walk, and will curl around and embed in the skin, causing pain and infection.

That being said, some breeds need more grooming than others and need to see a professional groomer every four to six weeks.  It is also a good idea to send short coated breeds to the groomer regularly as well, even though they do not need their fur trimmed, having a professional groomer clip the toenails, clean the ears, and bathe your dog is beneficial.   Professional groomers have professional products and equipment that will help with your pets skin and coat and even help with shedding.  Many times a groomer will identify problems that you could be unaware of, such as ear infections, fleas or ticks, lumps and skin problems.

It is a common misconception that you should wait to have your puppy professionally groomed until it is around 6 months old.   Reasons cited are that the puppy’s fur is not that long and they want to have all vaccinations before sending their dog to the grooming salon. I can attest, groomers everywhere cringe when they look at their schedule and  see a 6 month old puppy coming in for the first grooming.

Years ago, the advise to new puppy parents was to keep their puppy at home until it had its final set of vaccinations which is around 12 – 16 weeks old.  Most veterinarians, dog trainers and pet professionals have changed their view of this in the recent years.  The evidence is that the risk of your puppy developing a behavioral problem from lack of proper early socialization far out ways the risk of them contracting a fatal disease if you socialize them before the full set of vaccinations.   The key here is “proper early socialization”.  You do not want to take your new puppy to places where the health and vaccination status of other animals is questionable, like a dog park or a pet store, or where there are known sick animals, however puppies need proper socialization to become stable adults.  Lets take a look as to why this is so….

From seven to sixteen weeks of age your puppy enters the socialization stage which is a critical stage and the most important stage in his development.  This critical stage, and what happens to  your puppy during it, will determine how behaviorally sound he will be when he becomes an adult.  Puppies that are socialized properly during this stage become stable adult dogs with minimal issues of fear or aggression.  Puppies that are not socialized properly at this stage, can develop fear, anxiety, aggression and behavioral issues. Many behavioral problems in dogs are due to the lack of proper socialization during this imprinting stage of development.   During this stage of development, puppies also go through a fear imprinting phase or “fear period” which means whatever the puppy comes into contact with that causes fear or pain, can stay with him for life.  This is why it is important that everything you expose your puppy to be kept positive.

If you wait to expose your puppy to the grooming process until he is older, he will not have been exposed to all  the sights, sounds, smells, and required handling during this critical phase,  therefore will become fearful and anxious of the new experience, which often times will lead to aggression on the grooming table.   Many dogs go through a second fear period during adolescence (six to eight months) and if taken to the grooming shop for the first time during this period, may become so frightened that it will be hard to desensitize them to the grooming process later.

Sooner is better than later when it comes to exposing your puppy to the grooming process.  Many show- dog breeders start grooming their puppies at 3 weeks of age, before they are even weaned.  This early exposure leads to a dog that is extremely comfortable on the grooming table as he has done it his entire life.

Another reason waiting to groom your dog is so detrimental is because, unless you are very good at thoroughly brushing your dog, he more than likely will develop matted fur. Matted fur is painful to remove, which in turn will cause negative associations to the  grooming process, which in turn will contribute to problems on the grooming table.

When it comes to grooming your dog, the key is to find a groomer that understands and is familiar with puppy development and how to create a positive experience for your puppy.  Make sure the salon requires all adult dogs be fully vaccinated, and the puppies at least have one set of puppy vaccinations.  The first grooming, most likely, will not be to remove much fur from your puppy. Generally, the first grooming consists of a bath, nail trim, ear cleaning, blow dry and trimming around the eyes, feet and sanitary area. The key is to keep the interactions as short and as positive as possible. If the salon requires your puppy be there for the day or if your puppy will be put in a kennel during the process, it is a good idea to take a toy or chew for your puppy to play with while he waits.  You may also request that they take the puppy outside for a bathroom break or two while he is in their care.  At Super Mutts, since we are also dog trainers, we always provided these things for the puppies in our care because it is the right thing for the puppy, but many salons do not.  Always ask if the salon has a protocol for puppies, if you are not comfortable, don’t hesitate to find another salon that does.

There are a number of things you can do at home that will help your puppy before he goes to the salon.  Many salons have pamphlets on things you can do to help socialize your puppy to the grooming experience.  Take your puppy to the salon ahead of time just for a meet, greet and treat!  Ask if they have any handouts for you to get started at home. A good salon will appreciate you taking initiative in your puppies grooming needs. They can also show you how to properly brush your dog at home and may have handouts on specific breeds and grooming requirements.

Our book Puppy Montessori is available on Amazon.com and is a great resource for new puppy parents. The book goes into further detail about developmental levels, socialization, and things you should do before your puppy goes to the salon.

Cindy Quigley is a Canine life cycle coach, and pet stylist. She is the owner of Supermutts.com and author of Puppy Montessori. She has 23 years’ experience professionally working with dogs.  She has worked in grooming shops, boarding facilities and veterinary hospitals, all of which taught her how to read canine body language and understand dog handling. As boarding and daycare facility owners together with her husband Kenneth she has cared for thousands of dogs and has thousands of hours observing, studying and modifying canine behavior. 

You can read more or purchase her book at www.supermutts.com

 

 

 

 

Why your dogs haircut costs more than yours.

Why your dogs haircut costs more than yours!

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This  sign is one that hangs in some pet grooming shops and is meant to be a funny response to the myriad times pet groomers get asked the question, “Why does it cost more to get my dogs hair cut than mine?”  Pet stylists here this question often.  I just heard it a few days ago. People tend not to question their mechanic or handy man, or child care worker about the price of their service however groomers are questioned frequently.

All joking aside, there are some very logical reasons your pets’ haircut costs more than yours.  I thought I would shed some light on the subject and hopefully help you understand just what your pets grooming entails and its value.

The first and most obvious reason is that your hair dresser only cuts the hair on your head, your pet stylist cuts fur on the entire dog. A grooming can take anywhere from one hour up to four hours for larger breeds. Pet grooming is a time based service.  If it took your hairdresser the same time to cut and style your hair, it would cost much more.  If your pet stylist only cut the hair on the top of your dog’s head (no face or body fur)  It would only take a few minutes and would cost much less than your own hair cut.   Keep in mind that pet stylists also bathe the entire dog.  Your stylist does not give you a full body bath.

Your pet stylist cleans and plucks your pets ears, gives a manicure and pedicure, Brushes out the entire coat, removes any matting, expresses anal glands if needed, bathes, conditions and blow dries the pets coat, and may brush teeth and file nails, all before cutting any fur.  Once the clippers and scissors come out, the pet stylist then has to use them on the pet, which we all know, rarely sits still and may even bite, scratch or try to escape.

These are some of the obvious reasons it costs more for your pets’ haircut than your own.  If you look further into the detail of all the services included in a full grooming and compare how much each would cost for someone of equal handling skills to perform, such as a veterinarian, or veterinary technician, then you can really see the value provided by the pet groomer.

Your Pet stylist examines every part of your dog, and we mean EVERY part.  From nose to rump and everything in between.  There is not a single portion of your dog that is not touched or looked at by the pet stylist.  It is not uncommon for a pet stylist to find health issues before the owner knows about them. Often times groomers will find eye or ear infections, bad teeth, impacted anal glands or skin conditions.  If your groomer grooms the pet on a regular basis, they may also notice behavioral changes that can signal health issues.   The general Veterinary exam fee without treatment can run anywhere from $50 – $80.  The groomer is not a Veterinarian but just as your Veterinarian has higher education and training, the pet stylist also has higher education and is trained on animal anatomy, husbandry, illnesses, behavior, and proper handling not to mention knowing each breed standard trim.

Your pet stylist trims your pets’ toenails which at a Veterinary office can run $10-$18 or more. Usually done by a Veterinary technician.

Your pet stylist plucks the fur from your pets’ ears if needed and cleans them.  The cost at the Veterinary office for the same service would cost anywhere from $25 -$70

Your pet stylist checks and expresses (if needed) your pets anal glands.  The cost at the Vet – $25-$30.  Usually done by a Veterinary technician.

So when you compare just these basic services, it may cost anywhere from $110-$198 or more, which does not include brushing, bathing, and cutting of the fur or dealing with behavioral problems .The average pet grooming price is far less. You also need to consider that larger breed dogs, dogs with longer or matted fur, or with behavioral problems, will add to the price of the grooming.

Another thing to take into consideration is the individual pet stylist.  Obviously a seasoned groomer of 20 plus years will charge more than a new graduate just out of grooming school and they should.  If you ever see the difference in skill, handling ability and knowledge between the two, you will understand.  If your groomer has any other education or training such as veterinary technician, dog training, animal first aid, or massage therapy then the price will vary as well.

If your dog groomer is mobile or offers pickup and delivery, there will be an added convenience fee.  The mobile pet groomer gives their undivided attention to your pet with no distractions.  These services will not only save you money and time going to and from a salon, but also the hassle and possibly the frustration that may come from loading and transporting your dog (or dogs) in the car. These services also allow you to go about your daily business and find your pet groomed and waiting for you when you return home.

As a dog trainer and groomer at Super Mutts, I often counsel people on choosing the right pet for their lifestyle. Along with size, training, and energy level requirements, one question I always ask is “How much do you plan to spend on grooming every month?”   Many people never considered this when choosing a pet.  Luckily, there are dogs to fit every budget.  A short coated dog just needs bathing, nail trims and ear cleaning which can be done at home or will be less expensive at the groomer than a dog that has full, thick or curly coat with extensive grooming needs.  When choosing a dog for your family, grooming price for the life of the dog should be considered.

So, as you can see, there are many things to consider when questioning the price of your pets’ haircut vs. your own.  Consider also that this is your loved family member who you are entrusting to the care of others. Whomever you choose will hopefully be grooming your pet every month for his/her entire life which can be 10 -14 years or more. At super mutts we have generations of dogs from the same family.   Sadly, there have been many news reports on animals being mistreated at salons, daycare and boarding facilities. Just as you would not look for someone who is “cheap” to look after your children, you should not look for it when it comes to your beloved pet. Generally, you get what you pay for.  The peace of mind leaving your pets with a skilled person  you can trust………………priceless!

Cindy Quigley is a Canine life cycle coach, and pet stylist. She is the owner of Super Mutts and author of Puppy Montessori. She has 22 years’ experience professionally working with dogs.  She has worked in grooming shops, boarding facilities and veterinary hospitals, all of which taught her how to read canine body language and understand dog handling. As boarding and daycare facility owners together with her husband Kenneth she has cared for thousands of dogs and has thousands of hours observing, studying and modifying canine behavior. She is an AKC/ CGC, CGCU, Community Canine and S.T.A.R. puppy evaluator.

You can read more or purchase her book at www.supermutts.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bathing your dog at home

Even though some dogs are taken to a dog groomer for a monthly haircut, nail trim and bath, some people bathe (or would like to bathe) their dog in between grooming visits. After all, dogs get dirty and a clean dog is much nicer to pet and snuggle.

Many of our clients ask how we are able to groom or bathe their pet so easily when it is so hard for them to do at home.  The main reason is that professional groomers have been trained and understand dog handling.  The second reason is that we also have professional products that make the handling easier.

Our job is to make a pet as clean and cute as possible while maintaining the safety of that pet (and the groomer) throughout the grooming process.  After all, keeping a moving animal safe when using sharp scissors is not always an easy task, nor is keeping a biting dog still without getting bit.

Next to a dog, a groomers equipment is his/hers best friend.   We have tables with grooming loops to not only keep the dog in a desired position but also keep them from jumping or falling off the table.  If the dog is a biter, we have muzzles to use if needed to keep us safe, and to teach the dog how to be calm on the table.   We also have restraints in the tub to keep the dog from jumping out as well as sprayers and dryers to make the process more efficient.

Most people do not have these items so it becomes a bit of a chore to try to bathe fluffy at home.  There are some home products you can purchase to make the process similar to that of the grooming shop.   We have put some items below that will help, simply click the images to view.

 Tub restraints                Shampoo and Conditioner                   Dog bath sprayer

                                     

The first and most important thing to do is to gather all of your supplies before you get the dog into the bath tub. It is important to have dog approved shampoo and conditioner not human products.  Humans have a different PH than a dog.  If you use human shampoo on your dog, it may cause dry skin, irritation, and itching. We recommend natures specialties shampoos and conditioners.  Click the images above to order. You will also need a restraining device to keep your dog in the tub, a hose type sprayer, towels, treats, and a blow dryer if you plan on drying the dog.            

 

 

If your dog has  medium to long coat, you should properly brush them before the bath, to make sure the coat is free of matting.  We recommend using a slicker brush and comb.

For a video on how to properly brush your dog at home click here

Have some treats handy and reward your dog for staying calm during this process.  Restrain your dog in the tub so he/she does not try to jump out.  This will save you time and will make the bathing process more pleasant for both of you.

  • Start wetting your dog with warm water from the feet up, tail to head.  Starting at the head will make your dog try to shake the water off immediately or may startle them if they aren’t comfortable in the bath yet.
  • Keep the process as positive as possible and move in a timely manner to keep the process short. (Some dogs may become anxious the longer they remain in the tub)  Efficiency is key.
  • Wet the dogs entire coat.  Apply shampoo and lather well, don’t forget in between the toes and pads of the feet.  Do not get shampoo in your pets eyes.  You can apply  an approved eye lubricant before the bath to protect your pets eyes from shampoo.
  • Rinse well with warm water making sure to get all soap out of the coat to prevent itching.
  • Apply conditioner if desired, massage in, rinse well.
  • Towel dry your dog using microfiber towels for better absorption and quicker drying time.

You can let your dog air dry or if you would rather blow dry your dog, do so on low setting preferably with the dog restrained on a grooming type table or on the floor.

Reward your dog with small treats throughout the process and remain calm at all times.  If your dog tries to jump out of the tub, thrash about, or bite, it is important not to end the bathing process at this time. If you do, you will be teaching the dog that the behavior gets him out of the tub and he will continue to do so.   Only end the bathing process when the dog is calm.  If your dog is having difficulty with the bath, you may have to break the process down into smaller steps to get the pet comfortable over time.   Most groomers will be happy to instruct you on how to do this.

If you follow these steps you should be able to bathe your pet like a pro and make the process more pleasant for you and your pet!  Happy Bathing!

Cindy Quigley is a Canine life cycle coach, owner of Super Mutts Canine training and author of Puppy Montessori. She has 20 years’ experience professionally working with dogs.  She has worked in grooming shops, boarding facilities and veterinary hospitals, all of which taught her how to read canine body language and understand dog handling. As boarding and daycare facility owners together with her husband Kenneth she has cared for thousands of dogs and has thousands of hours observing, studying and modifying canine behavior. She is an AKC/ CGC, CGCU, Community Canine and S.T.A.R. puppy evaluator.

You can read more or purchase her book at www.supermutts.com

 



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Thunderstorms and your dog

dog-cartoon

I woke up this morning with my husband lying next to me, my dog lying peacefully at the foot of my bed, the sound of Coyotes howling and thunder rolling in the distance.  I thought to myself, “Nothing gets better than this.”  You see, I love my husband, my dog, Coyotes howling in the distance, and I love Thunder storms. Put all four together and I’m in heaven.

Did I say “my dog lying peacefully at the foot of my bed?”  Yes, I did. Our dog is not afraid of thunder.  My husband and I have had six dogs together and none have been afraid of thunder.  They also do not respond to coyotes howling or neighborhood dogs barking.   Actually, the only things our dog responds to with ferocity is delivery men or if any strangers show up unannounced. As a Boxer, he takes his guarding responsibilities very seriously and we like that.   Even then, he is controllable once we give him the thumbs up that everything is O.K.

A common dilemma we hear from our customers is about their dogs’ fear of thunder.  In fact, someone just mentioned it to me yesterday. It is something that is very upsetting for dog owners and something that many people find difficult to deal with.  After all, no one wants to see there little furry friend in a fearful state. Sadly, it is something that many people unknowingly foster and may have even unknowingly caused. Yes, that means you. It is hard to hear but the truth hurts.  How can you be causing or fostering your dog’s neurosis you ask?  Below is a list of several ways you may be causing Fido’s fears.

·         You don’t like storms (or are afraid of them) and you know one is approaching, you become nervous or anxious which changes your cortisol levels and stress hormones, your dog senses your nervousness and assumes there is  a threat so in turn starts becoming anxious.  Dogs make associations and learn from cues.  Just as with clicker training, the dog learns that the sound of the click means he did the right thing and that a reward is coming.  He associates the click with the reward.  If and when he hears thunder, you become anxious or nervous; he will associate the sound of thunder with impending doom.   Dogs cue into our senses much more than people realize.  If you doubt that, the next time you get angry, nervous, sad, upset or even excited, watch how your dog behaves and responds accordingly.

·         If your dog becomes nervous or anxious, YOU get nervous and anxious (or maybe even a little angry) which in turn makes your dog more nervous and anxious. You may even anticipate your dog getting anxious at the first sound of thunder. This confirms the thought that thunder is something to fear.

·         You coddle your dog when he is anxious by petting, cuddling and telling him, “it’s o.k.”   All though well meaning, to a dog, petting, cuddling, and talking are forms of reward.  If Fido gets anxious and you are petting him, you are in fact telling him “Good dog, be nervous, you’re doing the right thing.”

·         You do not walk your dog.  A dog has 4 legs and is meant to walk.  In the wild dogs travel for miles every day.  A tired dog is a good dog.  A daily walk burns energy.  If your dog has pent up energy, he will be more reactive to many things.  It is in your dog’s DNA to walk.

·         You do not provide consistent leadership for your dog. Anyone who knows our training philosophy knows that it begins with leadership. This is no different. The common denominator to prevent any form of anxiety in your dog is providing your dog with consistent leadership from the beginning. Many people give their dog a lot of love and affection without setting clear rules and providing leadership.  In the dog world there are two positions, the leader and the follower.  If you are not one, you are the other.  A dog that senses no leadership may try to assume the leadership role; if he is not a born leader (which few are) it will create anxiety, fear and frustration.  Even if he doesn’t assume the role, he will sense no leader which in turn creates anxiety, fear and frustration.  If anything out of the ordinary happens, it will cause anxiety in your dog.   If a stranger comes to the door or a strange noise occurs outside or other dogs are barking in the neighborhood, or thunder?  What about thunder?  A dog that senses leadership can relax because the leader has everything under control.  If the leader is relaxed, the others will follow. 

·         You have never made a positive association with the sound of thunder. Since my husband and I both love storms we have always socialized our dogs to the experience in positive ways. With all of our dogs, both those we adopted as puppies and those we adopted as adults, we have went outside in storms, played with toys,  worked obedience , went for car rides and walks, and ultimately made storms a fun time for all.  Our dogs love spending time on the porch with us during a storm.

Many of you may have inherited a dog with a phobia of storms or don’t believe that you are contributing to the problem but I will say, If you do one or all of these things, you are. I know this not only from my 20 years working with dogs  but also when I see the behavior change in storm phobic dogs that have boarded with us. When they are home, they are afraid of storms and when they are boarding with us they are not. Why is that?  It is because of everything in the aforementioned text. We provide the same consistent leadership to our boarding dogs as we do with our own dogs. Since we enjoy storms and our personal dogs are not nervous, the boarding dogs generally follow suit.

You don’t see storm phobic animals in the wild.  When a storm approaches they will den up or hunker down and let it pass.  It appears only dogs that interact with humans have a fear of thunder which is another reason to believe it is human induced.

So what if you obtained a dog that came with a fear of thunder?  There are a few things you can do to help with the transition.

First and foremost, check your own feelings about the approaching storm as well as your thoughts toward your fearful Fido.  Do not make a big deal out of it; act as if it was another sunny day.  Do not reward the fear by coddling the dog.

Provide consistent leadership.  Have consistent rules the dog follows daily.  Teach basic obedience commands such as sit, stay and down.  Have your dog work for food and affection and teach proper leash walking.  All of these exercises help establish you as the leader. 

Walk your dog daily – to the point of being tired.

Turn up the radio or television to mute the sound of thunder.   During storms Play games, work on obedience and only reward calm behavior.

Before Fido gets nervous, give him a treat that will keep him occupied for some time such as a new chew bone or a stuffed Kong.  Many dogs fail to notice thunder if they are busy with something else.

Provide a kennel for your dog to den up in.  Dogs are den animals and like the safety of confined spaces.  If your dog is kennel trained, he will naturally go to his kennel to rest or have some private time.  A dog that is kenneled will not be able to start pacing or working himself into frenzy.

Play sounds of thunder at a very low level daily and go about your daily business.  Start creating positive associations with the sound.   Reward only calm behavior.

Some dogs that have been storm phobic for years will have a harder time changing behavior and may need medication from your Veterinarian along with the behavior modification techniques listed above. 

If your dog is afraid of storms implement these techniques and you may be surprised at not only how quickly they work but also find that other unwanted behaviors disappear as well.  Still having trouble?  Consult with a leadership based dog trainer to help.

Cindy Quigley is a Canine life cycle coach, owner of Super Mutts Canine training and author of Puppy Montessori. She has 20 years’ experience professionally working with dogs.  She has worked in grooming shops, boarding facilities and veterinary hospitals, all of which taught her how to read canine body language and understand dog handling. As boarding and daycare facility owners together with her husband Kenneth she has cared for thousands of dogs and has thousands of hours observing, studying and modifying canine behavior. She is an AKC/ CGC, CGCU, Community Canine and S.T.A.R. puppy evaluator and a professional member of the Association of Professional Dog Trainers.

You can read more or purchase her book at www.supermutts.com