CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) Dogs need help relaxing and Jill Haley Rose, Certified Professional Dog Trainer from Paws of Nature Family Dog Training and Missy Kielbasa from Sandy Meadow Farm shared ways to make sure they are comfortable.
Relaxed Restraint & Body Handling – A Life Necessity for all Family Dogs;
Whenever we get a new dog or puppy, we tend to be focused on teaching them basic obedience manners such as sit, lie down,
and coming when called. One of the most important things we should be teaching them gets overlooked
and forgotten about until the time comes when we really need those skills. Teaching our dogs to be relaxed and comfortable
while we can clean their ears, remove a tick, or examine a wound and administer medicine allows us to safely take
better care of our dogs while helping the dog feel less stressed during the process. Your veterinarian will appreciate it too.
Long Stroke Massage
Start off by helping your dog relax by using very SLOW long strokes, starting from his head or jaw line, and working your way
over his entire body. You should start to see his breathing slow, his eyes get almond shaped and even squinty, and he might
even let out a yawn or two as he starts to enjoy your massage.
Once he is in a very relaxed state, you may gently start touching different areas of his body such as his ears, paws, tail, etc. You can
even say the body part’s name you are touching so the dog will learn what to expect over time.
If he starts pulling away, mouthing you, or showing other signs of being uncomfortable, then write down what area of the body
he was uncomfortable with you touching. Next time you practice you will have a pile of tasty treats. You will just reach for or touch
that body part lightly, while following the touch immediately with a delicious treat. You will need many repetitions to help the dog
start to feel better about you touching that body part. If the dog is still really worried, you can also use a spoon with something sticky
on it that the dog can lick while you are touching the body part.
The Fork Lift Restraining Hug
The number one reason many dogs become anxious is not necessarily the procedure you need to do, but having to be restrained
for the procedure itself. Teaching your dog to be relaxed for restraint is one of the most important things you can do for your dog.
Start with getting your dog in a relaxed state using your long stroke massage.
Hold your arms out in front of you like a fork lift and put one arm under and around the dog’s neck and the other under his chest.
Gently pull him towards you while labeling it “Hug”. Release him after holding him for 1 second only. If your dog is comfortable
for 1 second holds, start practicing longer holds. This time pull him close towards you while saying “Hug” and then count out
loud to 3, release him and say “All Done”. Over time, practice for longer holds – work your way up to 5 or 10 seconds.
If your dog is struggling and not relaxed, then don’t force him. We want the dog to remain relaxed. Use a spoon with something
sticky that he can lick while you practice, and keep the hug restraint short until he is relaxing more.
Muzzles – They aren’t just for bad dogs
Every dog should be comfortable wearing a muzzle. If your dog gets injured or sick and is in pain, he might not be himself and will not want you or anyone else trying to touch him to administer medicine or change a bandage. Luckily, it is easy to teach a dog to love wearing a muzzle, just like he loves his leash.
Use the right muzzle
We recommend the Baskerville Ultra. It is light weight and allows the dog to pant naturally with an open mouth so he doesn’t
overheat on a hot day. It has a special opening made into it so you can deliver tasty treats. He can also lap water through it, yet it is very secure once it is fitted correctly.
Condition your dog to love his muzzle
- Introduce the muzzle by allowing him first to see it and smell it. DO NOT PUT IT ON.
- Have a pile of awesome special treats nearby. Put muzzle behind your back. Bring muzzle out and show to your dog.The moment he sees it, Yes! praise & treat. Repeat for several days.
- Bring muzzle out and pull all the straps aside and put the opening side facing your dog. Have tasty treats or a spoon withsomething sticky coming through the opening so your dog is willingly putting his nose inside the muzzle to get the treats.
- Yes! Praise & treat. DO NOT PUSH THE MUZZLE INTO YOUR DOG. Repeat for 7 days.
- At this point your dog should be showing a “yippee!” happy response to seeing his muzzle. Your will now attache to his collar and buckle it, but not too tight. Feed him lots of treats with praise. Repeat for 7 days.
- Make your final adjustments so the muzzle is fitted properly. Lavish the praise and tell him how brilliant he is. Repeat for 7 days.
- Maintenance – once a week, have him wear his muzzle for different durations. Always make it a pleasurable association.