During your puppy’s life there will be many times when it is necessary for you or someone outside of your family to handle him in ways that seem strange to him. At home, during quiet times, you can help your puppy become more comfortable with being handled in these different ways – and the earlier you start, the more relaxed he will be when these situations actually occur.
Gently pat your puppy on different areas of his body while he is in a relaxed state. Mimic how the vet will examine your puppy – touch around his eyes and ears, gently hold his feet and toes, lift his lips and touch his teeth, hold your hand against his chest, gently move his legs, etc. Take your time with his kind of touch, and do it often so that it becomes an agreeable experience for your pup, both at home and at the veterinarian office. Teach him to sit and lie down while you examine him; it will make your vet’s job much easier if your pup is not squirming during his examinations.
Start early with short grooming sessions at home. Use a brush well-suited to your puppy’s type of coat and always brush in the direction of the hair growth, working in sections. Be consistent, make the experience pleasurable, and go slowly. Keep some treats in your non – brush hand to distract your puppy. Stop brushing when he seems more concerned with the brush than the treats.
Brushing your pup’s teeth will keep his breath fresh and his teeth and gums healthy. Proceed slowly, over a course of a few days or even weeks. First, apply a little doggy toothpaste on your puppy’s toothbrush and place it near his mouth, letting him taste it. Next, apply toothpaste on your fingers and explore the inside of his mouth, without actually brushing. Once your puppy is comfortable, try lightly brushing his rear teeth with his brush, moving forward. Try to use a circular motion, using care to massage, but not scour his gums. If your puppy clamps down on the brush, do not pull it out, instead relax your hand. Eventually he will have to change his bite on the brush.
To prepare your puppy for nail clipping, first let him get used to the smell and sound of the pet nail clippers and to having his feet held. Gently massage between his toes and nails. To start, gently touch the clippers to your puppy’s nail to make sure he is comfortable. This may be as far as you get for a few sessions. To proceed with clipping, trim the smallest amount possible of nail, praising your puppy’s calmness. If you decide to continue with do-it-yourself nail clipping, always make very small clips so as not to curt the nail’s quick (the area where the nail’s blood supply and nerves begin). On dark nails the quick is difficult to see, on white nails, it is the pink area. If you feel uncomfortable or unsure, stop and take your puppy to a professional.
Don’t try to a do all of these activities in one session. If your puppy is uncomfortable, just do one task at a time, or ask for help from a trusted professional. If you suspect your dog is having an abnormal reaction to a situation that should be causing him pain, contact your veterinarian. Professional dog training will also help you establish a bond with your puppy as he grows in his trust of you and your relationship.
Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery county and northern Chester County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.
© Copyright 2014 Bark Busters USA All Rights Reserved