Help your dog not only behave better, but also have less anxiety!
Do you ever wonder why your dog hates the vet and the groomers? Why does your dog even hate bath days at home? Wonder what you are doing wrong? Even when your giving him/her all the treats in the world, it still doesn’t seem to help! Well to be honest, it’s usually our fault! We most likely have unintentionally taught them to act this way.
Here are a couple exercises to do at home with your dog that will help make it a better experience for everyone involved. Practicing these small things at home can not only help make it less anxiety inducing but can also help you and your dog bond! Win, win! After all, if we have healthy happy dogs then they can join us on our everyday adventures! These are just some of the things that have worked for me and I encourage you to try it with your dog!
The first place where we go wrong is that we expect our dogs to handle going to the vet and grooming like a pro, but only do it once in a blue moon! Say you go to the vet once, maybe twice a year? Grooming appointments and baths are definitely not an everyday occurrence either. So, when we do take our dogs to the vet or grooming appointments it can tend to be traumatic for our dogs.
When teaching a kid something new, you don’t do it once or twice a year and expect them to learn how to do it well! So why are we expecting that of our dogs? We need to practice!! Everyday… yes you heard me! Every day, or at least a few times a week. It needs to become a normal thing you do with your dog to set them up for success in these situations.
Secondly, we teach our dogs how to get out of these behaviors. which encourages the bad behavior! Or really, your dog is teaching you. When your dog pulls on the leash, barks at people and other dogs, jumps, lunges, refuses to sit or lay down, or hides and then you get embarrassed and try to comfort them or worse…take them home! Then your dog has just learned that behavior WORKED to get out of the stressful situation! Try the tips below to help!
1. Take your dog to the vet or groomer without an appointment!
Of course we want to call ahead and ask if you can, but most vets and groomers will gladly invite you to come and have a positive experience with your dog where they are not getting a shot, temperature checked, or groomed etc..
This is one of our many happy visits to the vet as tank was growing up!
2. Working on handling at home.
Usually vets and groomers have to touch your dog at some point. If your dog is uncomfortable with this at home with YOU, then they will most definitely be uncomfortable in a NEW ENVIRONMENT WITH A STRANGER TOUCHING THEM. You will want to have a leash on your dog during this exercise so they can’t run away successfully. You will start with touching their legs, belly, back and neck (one at a time) until they relax, then let go! More challenging areas to work up to would be ears, mouth, paws, and tails. Touching and holding until they relax, then letting go.
3. Put the grooming tool out.. 24/7!!
Sometimes dogs associate the vet and groomers with the tools they use and get nervous when they see them! If you have clippers for their fur or nails, brushes, or any tool, you want to leave them out all the time, so they become use to seeing them around the house and they won’t be as nervous because its normal for them to see it! Set them on the counter, on the couch next to you, on the floor etc...
4. What not to do!
Don’t let go when your dog is pulling back during the handling exercise. Don’t force the grooming tools to touch them when you leave them out (at first!), just let them see that they are out.
Lastly, have fun with your dog! These small tips will help your dog trust you and be less anxious at the vet and groomer! We teach our dogs what behavior gets them out of the situation, so let’s show them that relaxing is the key! Remember, we can’t expect our dogs to behave well in these situations if we only do them once or twice a year!
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Let’s go do more of the things we love with our dog!
-K9 Community Movement
*Disclaimer; if you have a dog that you know is aggressive seek out professional in-person training and do not attempt at home. These exercises are for dogs and puppies that do not have aggression/possessive behaviors.