Who is in Charge When You are Grooming?
I made a split second mistake when I was grooming Cobalt the other day and will pay for it for weeks. Take a minute and learn from my mistake.
Cobalt has a personality to go with his stunning looks. His eyes almost display the will that lives inside of this small, beautiful German Shepherd Puppy. I absolutely love him and he is a ton of fun to have around our kennel. The other night, it was time to trim his nails. Cobalt is pretty unflappable, but is definitely vocal when he doesn’t like what is going on. Things like giving him a bath make it sound like you’re slowly pulling his hair out one by one.
So. It’s time to give Cobalt his first nail trim at our kennel. I get everything set up and play with him for about 20 minutes to release some energy. Then he and I sit down on a dog bed and I rub his belly as he slowly calms down. I get him to a point where I know that he is feeling calm, but not sleepy. I don’t want him to be sleepy because I have no desire to shock him awake with his nails being trimmed. I want him alert and not surprised when we begin.
And so I start. He immediately started screaming bloody murder. And here is my mistake: I stopped and comforted him. There is nothing wrong with trying to comfort your Puppy when you are trimming their nails or bathing them. My mistake was that I stopped. I set the tool down and entirely focused on him.
You can probably put two and two together at this point and see the mistake I made. Dogs, on the whole, are situational, reactionary creatures. Cobalt immediately learned, in that one second, that if he starts screaming I will stop. And I can’t blame him. He screamed, I stopped.
When you are grooming your puppy – you are in charge. There is nothing wrong with comforting him, but you have to keep doing what you’re doing.
If Cobalt had started having a full on panic attack, stopping might be the right thing to do. That wasn’t what happened, though. He was simply protesting in a loud, loud voice that he did not like what was happening. Throughout his life, he will have to have his nails trimmed so it is important that he grows accustomed to it now.
Having raised more than one dog, I immediately saw the error of my ways and carried on trimming his nails. By the time I got through the first front paw, he had calmed down significantly. When I was doing the back paws, he was nearly silent. This new activity was, certainly, a bit shocking for him and all he was doing was reacting. My overly soft heart got in the way of proper training.
When you get ready to groom your dog, whether it is nail trimming or bathing, it is important that you decide that you are in charge and determine that you are going to get the job done despite your dog or puppy’s protests.
At Far North Kennel, we breed German Shepherd Puppies and have a great time training them. Our Dog Blog is here for owners of all breeds to get information about having a great relationship with their dog. We are happy to answer any questions you have, just send us an email.