Teaching your dog not only to tolerate husbandry and grooming procedures, but also to be a consenting individual into the process.
This is a practice that begins at home with you which is a low stress environment.
Gaining cooperation from your dog can help you and your dog check out:
✅ Tick or other foreign object removal from fur
✅ Mouth handling, so you can check teeth for chips or breaks
✅ Paw handling
First is building in your dog feeling relaxed and the relaxation protocol is a great foundational skill.
Encouraging your dog to target a mat or towel and giving the space so when your dog needs a break they can exit. When they return, then this is an indication you can begin again. After a second exit, then end the session and practice again later.
Since dogs can’t speak, they can exercise their choice by removing themselves from the situation. This will help them regain their feelings of safety before they make the choice to begin again.
When your dog targets the mat with you next to it and with whatever posture your dog takes (sitting, laying down, standing), then you can approach your dog with your hand moving slowly toward your dog. If your dog looks at your hand simply withdraw your hand and go a bit slower. When your dog looks away, reward. Slowly and gradually move your hand closer and reward when your dog remains relaxed.
After a few seconds of practice, you can toss some treats away from the mat to encourage your dog to take a break. Observe and if they make the decision to come back, then this is the indication your dog is ok to move forward.
Also, by keeping the practice short (seconds at a time) your dog will be able to build on feeling relaxed when time is gradually increasing without feeling overwhelmed which would lead your dog to having a harder time coming back to the practice.
Once your dog is comfortable with the hands coming towards him or her, then you can introduce a new body part to be gradually touched.
In addition, when your dog is comfortable with touching on different parts of the body and even squeezing the skin between the shoulder blades or on the back leg to help your dog get used to injections then you can introduce an instrument such as a ball point pen to simulate a syringe and needle.
There are many ways of performing cooperative care. The goal is ensuring your dog is comfortable and giving consent to take the next steps.
When you break down the experience into bits and introduce them separately, then your dog will feel more control over the environment and it will help them accept all of the pieces together.
Get your Discovery Call scheduled so you can also learn how you can achieve the same cooperation.