Handle Me! :
Week 6 - The Cooperative Care Lifestyle
Congratulations on making it to Week 6! I want to thank you for embarking on the Cooperative Care journey with your dog. I’m sure you have had some bumps along the way but as long as we remember that we are going this route to ensure our dogs have positive, safe, secure, and happy associations with care, it will all be worth it.
This is not just a 6 week course, but a lifestyle. Don’t quit just because this is the end. Ensure that all your interactions are done this way! When you put in the work and reactions change, it can be easy to become complacent, but it is important to commit to the understanding that even with marvelous progress, it will always be your responsibility to support your dog and apply wonderful rewards to new or challenging situations.
This week’s lessons (our last week!, sniffle) will focus on normal life situations and how we integrate everything we learned.
Nails Part 4
Today is the day you get to do more! (If your dog is ready!!) Do a few nails at a time until you can do a whole foot. Don’t try to go too short on the nails by the way. Since you are practicing almost daily you don’t need to take much off. After this week try to do a couple of feet in a sitting. It is okay if one foot is more sensitive that another, just give that foot more support, food, and less nails at one time. For most of these lessons I have talked about clippers. But for this video I will demo with a dremel. My dog is on his back because he likes it in that position. He snuggles this way and feels more secure. Notice that I am still not restraining him and if he wants to leave he can. I still feed him after a couple of nails and I may move to different feet if a foot starts to become sensitive. Make sure if using a dremel that you don’t keep it on the nail for too long or it will hurt.
By combining the chin touch and general feeding while brushing and handling, we can start to increase duration. Do so with brushing, handling, restraining, practice exams etc. Remember to take it on the road to your vet’s office and other locations. Have friends help you so that your dog learns that the same system they have with you also carries over to other people. Stay consistent! Make sure other people follow these exercises and never let anyone force your dog to receive care unless it is an emergency.
Forcing your fingers, or worse a toothbrush, into your dog’s mouth won’t win you any favors. It can even make them want to snap at hands near their mouth later. There is a easier way. Start with peanut butter, yogurt or something similar and wipe some on a cloth or paper towel. Next gently massage the tasty paste into their teeth. If they chew on the cloth or move away, pause briefly. If they continue, make sure your are slow and gentle on touching their mouth. Note that in the video I do not steady his face. Let the dog pull away. They quickly learn the food stops when they do this. Once they get good at this, wrap your finger in gauze wrap and repeat. Once they are used to this, you can move to a either a finger toothbrush or continue with the gauze. Both are abrasive enough for dental care. Next try a similarly flavored dog toothpaste instead of the human food paste. You can add a little human baby food to it if they have trouble transitioning. Always remember to let them turn away if they want to.
Making it a routine
Now that you are able to practice most forms of handling and husbandry with your dog, you need to maintain this relationship. Monthly, practice feeding tension to see if there is stress with any handling. This can also help diagnose pain or illness of suddenly something is off. Make a routine for brushing, nails, and dental hygiene. And make sure to practice seasonal skills like drying paws or bathing. If skills get rusty or your dog gets scared you may have to come back to these exercises to help them get back where they were. But put in the work. Your dog will love you more, feel safer and make you less crazy.
Practice the exercises from this week or previous weeks that aligns best with what you are presented with this week. Also create and post your training plan for the rest of the month so I can see how you plan to continue your progress.
I also wanted to say THANK YOU to my amazing students. I am so proud of your progress and I look forward to hearing all about your progress in the community. You are now proud members of #TeamSelectiveHearing and I can’t wait to hear about your future exploits. Get out there and show the world your amazing Couch Wolves!