Hi, it’s Linda again from Cause and Effect Dog Training.

Today in video 6, we’re covering grooming and handling. This is a topic that a lot of puppy owners tend to overlook, and it is so, so important. It makes you, your groomer and your vet’s life so much easier and your puppy will be happier and calmer as well. Your puppy needs to get used to being handled. So right from the start, you should be touching your dog’s ears, inside and out, getting him used to that sound and that movement in his ear. You might lift his lips, look at his teeth, and get him used to that. Being able to touch and handle your puppies feet is a really important one as the majority of dogs need their nails trimmed at various times. A lot of dogs don’t like their nails being cut, so start with your puppy by touching his paws, putting your fingers between his toes, touching his nails, getting him used to handling all over. You can use food rewards, with the reward marker word to build a positive associated to this.

I also recommend with puppies that you do what I call a little bit of inappropriate handling. Puppies and dogs aren’t always going to be handled with someone who is very soft and gentle. Sometimes it might be someone who is a little bit rougher, children also do that. You want your puppy to have a positive associate for a little bit of rougher handling. I’m not talking about anything that’s going to cause pain, but just something that’s not so soft and gentle, so that if he is handled a little more rougher, he isn’t scared or worried. Then we need to look at the grooming requirements. So if you have a dog who needs regular grooming, you need to get him used to the grooming tools, by regular combing, brushing as well as other things that I’ve spoken about with claws etc.

You also need to get them used to bathing, and every dog needs to get used to a bath. The way we do that is again, very positively and very gently. With me, when I’m bathing a puppy, I start with the puppy in a bath. I might just hold him fairly firmly. I’m talking to him, giving him a lot of feedback that he’s okay, things are going okay. I’ll start with the water on a very low pressure and just start wetting him just down near his tail. As he can cope with that, then I will gently move that up to the point where he’s okay with being sprayed with the water all over.

One of the main points to take home about this is if your puppy is a little bit concerned and is struggling, you don’t take him out of the bath until he is calmer and more accepting. So even if it means that you only get the tail wet, but he’s okay with that, it’s a good session. Then the next time you do it, you might be able to work up a little bit further up his body. With Oodle breeds and dogs who need that regular grooming, we’re then looking at getting them used to blowers as well – so those big hair blowers that dry the dog off really quickly. Again, that’s done very gently. It’s done very slowly. You’re building up a positive association to that happening as well.

Handling a puppy needs to be done every day. If you can incorporate doing these things into your everyday life, rather than treating it as a training session it will be much less time consuming. Whenever you pat your puppy, you can incorporate some handling as well.