Summit Tip – Grooming #1 – Getting Dog Ready

By Brenda Crispin…

Hi Everyone,

I get many questions about grooming the Summit dogs.  How often and what are all the steps to grooming are just a couple of the questions I get.  I will be starting a series of email tips about the grooming process. Because there are several steps to grooming I will be taking each one separately so we can discuss them in detail and hopefully keep the emails to a reasonable length. Please feel free to ask questions.

Here are the some of the topics I will cover over the coming weeks:

  • How to make grooming your dog pleasurable for you and the dog
  • Brushing
  • Bathing
  • Brushing Teeth
  • Clipping Nails

This week:

How to make grooming your dog pleasurable for you and your dog

When you begin a grooming session, your dog probably won’t understand that it’s ultimately for his/her benefit so taking the time to teach the dog it is pleasurable will be of benefit to you, future foster homes and our clients.  You can, make your dog comfortable with tools and procedures simply by minimizing the scary and painful sides of grooming as much as possible and giving rewards and praise for behaving in the right way.

Choose a time when your dog is a little tired. I like to do the grooming (minus the bathing) at night when they are tired. You want your dog to be willing to stand or lay still for a while and to accept food from you when you want to initiate grooming.

Find a quiet place around your house where you can spend some time alone with your dog. The room in which you plan to groom your dog needs to be in an out-of-the-way area where neither you nor your dog is distracted.  Cut down on the distractions. Make the session about being calm and enjoying the attention from you.

Pet your dog gently all over his body. Observe his reactions as you touch his legs, the sides of his body, his face, his tail, and his rear end.  When I bring a new puppy home I like to spend time every night on the floor just petting him/her. I touch every part of the body slowly and gently. Keep your hands moving very slowly. The slower the movement by you the calmer the dog.  Every notice when someone pets your dogs with really fast hands and high pitched voice the dogs gets wiggly and excited?  We want to avoid over stimulation during the grooming process.  It will set a great foundation for greetings in the future as well.  It is a great way to bond with the dog and it can calm them before bed.

Give your dog small treats as you pet him. I do this if I have a dog that is not enjoying the attention I am providing.  With  some dogs giving the treats can excited them so be careful with this part.  These can provide a distraction and reward for your dog when you’re touching in areas he/she otherwise may find worrisome or uncomfortable, like touching feet.  If you notice your dog showing signs of nervousness when you touch a particular area, don’t push it. It is tempting to keep touching the spot so your dog becomes accustom.  This can increase the nervousness.  Move to another spot that was previously comforting to your dog.  You can go back to the sensitive spot later and touch for a gentler approach and shorter time and then click and treat for each touch.  Notify Summit if your dog is overly uncomfortable with touch in a particular area, like feet.

If your dog is not relaxed during this procedure keep your petting sessions short – maybe one to two minutes.  Repeat the process a couple times throughout the day and the dog will most likely come to love the individual attention and the touch.  Gradually increase the length of the petting sessions as your dog relaxes.

Get your dog used to grooming objects; for example, run a brush or comb through his fur and against his skin. Start with a soft slicker brush, substituting it for your hand.  One soft stroke with the brush and one nice slow stroke with your hand.  Treat often as well.  If your dog is fearful of grooming procedures, you need to make the petting and brushing sessions extremely short at first.

Those of you that are raising the young puppies will set the foundation for future foster homes.  Those of you that are fostering the older dogs this foundation will allow you to bond with the dog faster.

Next week we will discuss brushing your dog in more detail. Please do send me your feedback or questions.

Brenda Crispin
Foster Home Coordinator
Summit Assistance Dogs