Please add handling, restraint, and husbandry behaviors to your training plan. Small things will make a huge difference…trust me!

This topic has been hitting home for me lately and I really want to make sure as many people as possible take this topic to ❤️.

I currently live with four dogs part time and two of those dogs had lovely comments from professionals this week. Let me start with Jibe, although I have spent many hours training her on husbandry skills, these results can be achieved with a smaller commitment as you will see with Beckett’s story in a bit.

Jibe is a heavy-coated Newfoundland with a full on spay coat and heavy furnishings. We have run into an orthopedic issue that will likely require surgery, conservative management, and underwater treadmill. When Jibe was young, she was not comfortable with strangers. Our handler and many of my dear friends worked with Jibe to get her used to people other than her mama taking the end of her leash.  As part of my Dremel Like a Boss program, we work on handling, chin rest, restraint and generalization of these behaviors for groomers and veterinarians. 

A couple of weeks ago, a veterinary surgeon needed to examine Jibe. This particular veterinary facility does not allow the owner to be present during the examination. Normally, I am in the room during a procedure and manage Jibe with a chin rest. As I handed over the leash, I was nervous about how Jibe would do without me. I asked the veterinary technician to please muzzle her if they felt she was not cooperating. I wanted everyone to feel comfortable so we could get the best examination possible. When the tech brought her in the back, she was an angel! The tech said she stood still during the exam and all the tech had to do was hold the leash. They didn’t even need to restrain her. The veterinary staff  wished all their exams were that easy. Whew! I went home a proud mama. 

Since I knew what type of journey was ahead of us, I wanted Jibe to have a good grooming from someone I trust so that meant a trip to Pennsylvania to see Alex the Groomer. I needed to have her coat scissored for low maintenance in anticipation of the next three months - potential surgery and rehab. It is important to me that Jibe’s coat be low maintenance so she is comfortable. It is really important that dog owners find a groomer they trust. (If you are near York, PA,  I highly recommend Alex the Groomer.) There are good groomers out there and we shouldn’t feel we have to do everything ourselves. To my surprise when I asked the groomer if she cooperated she responded with a resounding “She has been perfect! She is such a good girl. I wish all the dogs I groom were like her!” Wouldn’t it be amazing if all the groomers and vets could say that about all the dogs they see? As responsible dog owners, we should do everything we can to make the jobs of our vets, vet techs, and groomers as easy as possible. 

The last story I want to tell you is about Beckett. Beckett is a behaviorally challenged dog that is medicated and under the care of Dr. Emily Levine a Veterinarian Behaviorist. The work we have done with him around handling and restraint is not nearly the level of Jibe. Even with less training, Beckett’s behavior shows that even small doses of training these skills will reap big rewards when needed. Beckett will now eat certain foods in the vet’s office. We have asked that peanut butter not be used, because he associates it with negative exposures. He has a chin rest for us to practice handling at home so when handled in the office he can withstand some handling even if he can not reproduce his chin rest. He can now tolerate some restraint in the vet’s office. He is muzzle trained so that everyone can be comfortable when handling or examining him. In a non-emergency situation at his regular vet, he was able to stand for an ultrasound with minimal restraint. Before husbandry training, the vets would not have attempted this procedure without sedation.

So I say to all of you listening, the right training in small doses goes a long way. The stress it reduces for everyone involved is priceless.

If you have questions about topics like this, please join our public Facebook group 4 Paws Adrift. We are always available to help you and your pups on your journey.



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