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The Effect of Anticipation
Example: Grooming and Husbandry
first published July 2018
Not a procedure of choice
Merrick is a Gordon Setter with long coat on the underside, legs and ears. These are the places most likely to pick up rubbish and need grooming on a daily basis. She has disliked coat pulling from 8 weeks old. She enjoys physical hand contact but not equipment. This seems to be a genetic sensitivity in the skin as the littler siblings have the same issue.
Early introduction of being on the grooming table with a pot of treats, tongue click for stillness, and feeding in location enabled me to use both hands for grooming, clipping and nails.
At four years old she is able to hold position for 20 minutes, with 4-6 treats. She is not relaxed, she always needs to see the food cup and will not tolerate grooming unless this is present.
I am surprised by how long and how still she will remain for the food. I see her fight any inclination to move, and foot lifting needs specific cues to interrupt her focus.
I have tried to groom her when relaxed at my side on the sofa, but the introduction of any equipment, or even my hands removing a stick will cause her to leave the room. This is the first dog to be an issue, every dog I have queues for their time grooming, it is normally a high point of their day.
For her this is uncomfortable, and not a procedure of choice, but she will tolerate during the anticipation of food, but not toys.
Lesser of two evils
Author: Iris Maxfield
Here lies a moral and ethical dilemma for any one in the grooming industry
When I’ve fostered or accept a dog for re homing that is in a bad state, I can take time to get the work done over short rewarded sessions, there’s time to get to know each other and walk together before we start.
As a job that is booked, there’s an expected time frame and price, usually 2,3, or 4 hours depending on breed/type, not a lot of CHOICE in there, all we can do is be as sympathetic and sensitive as possible to the dog in front of us.
I make it clear to the owners of dogs with matted coats that while I will always try to keep a natural look, or some character at least, I’m not prepared to cause the dog to suffer, so if I need to remove coat I will.
I sort out a lot of neglected dogs, some rescue, some with families, the favourite excuse is usually “We went on holiday, when we came back he was in this state”. (A 12 month cruise springs to mind).
With most breeds I trim away hair from the groin and stomach, its a sensitive area with no solid muscle pack underneath.
In the past I’ve lived with and shown Old English Bobtails, so full coats, no judge ever saw the groin or belly area, the folding and friction of that fine tweaky hair makes it tangle and knot up. I’ve had male dogs in that can hardly cock a leg because one side is knotted across to the other, that’s not the reason they have been brought in, it’s usually the smell.
Very few people enjoy doing nail trims, unless the nails are white with obvious hooks. Even vets, if you know them well enough to chat away from the consulting room, the honest answer is they don’t like doing nails, there lies a problem to start before any one even asks for a paw.
In my opinion most people trim nails way too fast.
What ever clipper you use will cause some pressure, so not a good experience for dogs that are sensitive about their toes.
The nail file requires each toe to be held for a fair amount of time to make a difference.
I favour the battery operated Dremel nail grinder/file, being battery operated means you can trim nails wherever the dog is most comfortable, be that in the garden the back of the car or on their bed, your not tied to a grooming table with electric plug. It allows you to take the nail back working around the outside edge, with no need to touch the centre, but even then you have some noise and vibration. Hairy feet can be put in a fruit or veg net so the nails stick through, preventing the hair from getting caught up.
Out of my own dogs three prefer the Dremel anywhere, one prefers the clipper sitting on a dog bed in the kitchen and no other dogs around, then will allow a light file with the Dremel on the slow setting to finish off, a reward for every nail.
My advise to doggy friends that say they have trouble trimming their dogs nails, is get a treat pot out and teach their dog “This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed at home” very slowly.
The idea usually causes a giggle, but that gets the point over about removing the “we are going to perform a procedure, I hate it, you won’t like it either, but we have to get it done”
Even if once the trimming stage is reached, one nail on each foot was trimmed each day, most dogs having 18 some 20 nails, it would only take 5 days to trim them all, usually the back nails need very little trimming, apart from dew claws.
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