Bad into good

Touching feet; nail cutting, grooming, bath time, physical touch, sharing..............these are just a few common things that our canine family members are not fond of.   Not all dogs have problems with these activities but  many do.  So if your dog has one of these "issues" how do you change the way they react?  Many people explain to me how they try so hard to hold down their dog to cut their nails and their dog freaks.  It's so bad that the dog reacts violently as soon as they see the clippers.  The owners have come to a point where they simply can't deal with it anymore and their dog now sport long nails. 

I know other people who have given up all together on grooming.  They have tried and tried but what started out as a challenge is now a frantic wrestling match.  Just a glance of the brush  sends their dog into a frenzie and trying to get the brush to the hair is just a no go.   Several years ago I worked with a wonderful couple who had a lovely little schnauzer; "just don't try to touch his feet."  It was the rainy season here in SoCal and their house was wall to wall white carpet so he needed his feet wiped.   Everytime they tried to wipe his feet; they got bit.

When a dog has such a strong negative association to something that they start to display aggressively; you must kick a plan into action.  Using violence against violence only fuels the issue.  Dogs do not look at our physcial attempts to stop the behavior as we do; violence works against us.  To turn around a negative response or reaction to an event; we need to convince the dog that it is actually good, or defintely worth their while to permit the approach, touch or loss of item. 

Let's use nail cutting as the example; you must start slow.  The first step is to link the sight of the nail clippers to a fabulous treat.  This may take several days but it is well worth it.  Then you want to touch the clippers on your dogs leg; offer that great treat again.  Only do this for a second each time until you get a positive response; then rub the clippers on your dogs foot and treat.  While you are getting your dog accustom to the sight and touch of the clippers; you also want to work on grabbing your dogs foot which is something you must do to clip the nails.  The same slow small steps must be taken as well; short and sweet to start and then grow to the goal which can take weeks.

The first nail clip will be a big success; one treat per nail.  Then you work up to cutting four feet for one treat; but slowly.  I have been clipping my dogs nails since they were puppies and I still give each dog a treat after they get them done.   None of the dogs enjoy their nails being cut but they allow me to do it because I have made it a very positive activity.   It's all in the association; ya gotta make it a good one.