Last week, we discussed the stress that canines can experience when they are groomed or visit a veterinarian’s office. Restraint, handling, grooming, and veterinary care are all a part of keeping an animal healthy, but it doesn’t need to be stressful. By using desensitization and counter-conditioning techniques, we can help our canines not only tolerate these experiences, but even happily volunteer to be a participant in their own care!
It's not uncommon to sit in a veterinarian's office and see dog after dog walk happily up to the door then stop to a screeching halt as the pet parent attempts to gracefully scoot their dog through the door. For most of us, it's also easy to recall small dogs in carriers or on their pet parent's lap shivering and panting in fear in the waiting room of the vet's offices and grooming facilities. We routinely see dogs afraid to take a bath, get their nails trimmed, be groomed, or be restrained and handled that we think it's perfectly normal. We compare it to the unpleasant anticipation of going to the dentist or doing our taxes -- it's something we hate to do, but it has to be done. Isn't the same true for our dogs?
I am a passionate animal lover, rescuer and trainer. Kindness is my goal. I never want an animal to feel intimidated or threatened. Training should be fun for both the dog and human, so the training methods I use reflect my goal of helping the animal to feel safe so they can learn and have fun. I desire the same for the human client as well. Life is too short to spend time training an animal in a fashion that is anything less than fun!