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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Grooming - Brushing

Caution. If any grooming attempt might result in a bite, seek the help of an experienced professional.

There are different reasons why some dogs don't enjoy having their coats groomed. After a thorough vet check
to ensure their pets don't have pain or other medical issues, pet parents might consider simply changing instruments. I have lived with several dogs who tolerated a comb much better than a brush.

I've had several very nervous dogs do well with a double rowed rake.

If a pet doesn't respond well to any type of brush or comb, then pet parents might consider counter conditioning and desensitization.  Break down the brushing process into teeny tiny bits that the pet can handle, and reward after each step.

Below is an example. For some pets, this process might take a couple of days, for others a couple of months.  Pet parents need to try and go at the pets' pace - never progressing to a point where the animals are uncomfortable.

1. Without an instrument, reach toward pet, mark and reward.  Continue this until the pet is looking forward to the reach.
2. Next touch the pet, mark and reward.  (note. If the pet does not like touching, seek the help of an exprienced professional)
3. Then try raking your fingers through the dog's fur.  Start off doing it just once, mark/reward, then take a break. Later you can stroke twice, mark/reward, take a break, etc..
4. Put an instrument (brush or comb) on the floor. Pet looks at instrument, mark/reward
Pet sniffs instrument, mark/reward
5. Pick up instrument, mark/reward
6. Bring instrument towards pet (do not touch yet), mark/reward
7. Slightly touch pet with instrument, mark/reward
8. Brush or comb pet for one stroke, mark/reward. Then go do something fun. Don't attempt anymore grooming on this day. Next day, try one stroke again.  Next day, try one again. If dog seems to enjoy it, then try two strokes then mark/reward and so on.
Be sure to take at least a short break after each reward.

Note - do not flood the dog.  If  the pet appears to be uncomfortable at any point in the process, back up to a point where the pet was having fun.

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