Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Grooming challenges

Today was the second day of grooming this week. Yesterday, Jack was partially groomed. I trimmed him down significantly from the hippie-style he portrayed. Yes, Jack almost resembled a sheepdog, with his long locks covering his eyes and face. I also trimmed the nails on his right-front paw. It was kind of a very s-s-slow process.

What does grooming have to do with training, you ask? Well, plenty! Allow me to explain.

When I first got Jack, he was 9-months-old. He is almost 5-years-old now. He has had issues with his feet all along. "You wanna touch my feet? Well, I don't think so! Let me show you my teeth!" So, our grooming sessions are kind of continual. Jack does not like the electric trimmer anywhere near his feet. He tolerates it everywhere else. So our "grooming dance" has become more fluid, less jerky as time has passed.

I thought that since Jack loves attention from me, I could work on teaching him to Shake Hands. I would use the clicker. I would get down to his level and touch the back of his leg with one hand while the other hand is in front of his paw. If he moved his paw, ever so slightly TOWARDS my hand, I would click and treat. I continued this for some time until now all I have to do is lower my hand to his front and he raises his paw and rests it in my hand.

That shake-hands trick is working well in regards to trimming his feet. So now when I trim him, I alternate with some cookies and pats. We work our way down to the feet, alternating the trimming with some nice pats and rubs. Now for the feet. After the past "fights" to trim his feet, I have discovered that he would rather I use the scissors on his feet. It doesn't look as good as I would like, but it passes. As for now, it still takes more than one day to trim his nails. But that is OK with me.

One of the most important things about the grooming process is after I am finished with the combing, brushing, trimming, and clipping. I am teaching Jack to lay down on the table on his side, with his head touching the table. This "Head Down" trick allows me to give him a massage. We do it the same way with his other side. After the massage and time to chill out and relax, I give Jack the freedom to run around the back yard, full tilt, without any encumberances. No leash, just the grass under his feet and wind in his face and the time for him to be a dog. I enjoy watching him have a total blast and when he has had enough, he comes to me and I snap on his leash and we go inside the house. Peace one moment in time.

Find us walking in obedience!

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