Getting over the maintenance issues

Being that I have one of the most groomed breeds, maintenance is an ongoing thing.  For those of you who have smooth coated or dogs that do not require clipping or trimming there are still things like ears, nails and teeth to attend to. Typically my dogs are shaved down with no pom poms, nice and trim.  This makes for very little grooming other than the shave itself.  That said Elsa has a great deal of coat now which I am not use to dealing with.  Oh I did my fair share years ago but not in a long while.  I don't like the time that it takes to brush and comb out but she does look beautiful.  It's all that puppy hair that is the issue and the look.  I know that once I take it off it is never coming back so I've been holding off.


Both of my dogs get regular ear cleaning, weekly nail trimming and teeth scraping.  Luke has always been a very good boy about all of these things even though he is the nervous type.  Trust is the first issue, if your dog trusts that you will never hurt them then you are over the first hump.  The next thing to conquer is the association to being touched, brushed and squeezed.  Feet are a biggy for many, dogs don't like having their feet touched, or at least most.  But if you start working on foot touching early it should not be a problem.  If you got your puppy from a great breeder who works on this from the get go then you are really lucky.

Maintenance can have a very negative association so you must create something positive out of a negative.  I have used food, massage and mushy talk turning the stress of having general maintenance done into a great activity. Elsa really did not like any of it, as a very busy girl she did not enjoy having her freedom snatched away for some poking around stuff.  With lots and lots of treats she has turned into a very good girl about it all.  Of course now she is having to deal with a great deal more grooming which in the long run will be a good thing.  Once that coat comes off everything else will seem like a breeze.

As far as nails go you must use as many treats as it takes to make it positive.  I start with a treat per nail and Elsa is now up to two feet for a treat.  Luke gets a treat at the end and all of my dogs have always been rewarded at the end of nail cutting or grinding.  If your dog fusses and tries to get away when you do nails and your reaction is to hold them tightly and just get it done, things are going to go from bad to worse.  The more they struggle the tighter your grip gets on them causing their stress level to continually rise.  They may even growl or snap which can be very detrimental to your relationship.  Once a dog growls at you it can be very difficult to get back to where you were before the growl.

A growl can come from a created dominant dog, meaning that the dog may not be a dominant type but because of how they were raised, basically being allowed to do as they please they have become the boss of the house.  Or it can come from fear, so a growl must be dealt with.  You may need to call in for some back up help from a positive trainer.  But no matter why a growl needs attending to.

I am surprised by people when they tell me that they have never thought about nails, looked in their dog's ears or picked up a brush.  In my breed many folks use professional groomers like many other people who have full coated breeds.  The groomer does it all and they never think about it.  Everyone should brush their dog and at least get accustom to looking and checking out all the parts.  Just hoping that it is all good because you go to a groomer is not a good idea.  Going over your dog and knowing what everything should look like is what general maintenance is.

Maintenance is a great bonding time; I use it for some very close and personal mushy time which of course everyone enjoys.  :)