You may have heard of the process of "desensitization" in which, for example, someone with arachnophobia is repeatedly exposed to spiders in order to rid them of the panic that ensues when a spider appears. Over time, the mind and body adjust to the sight until they are no longer terrified by it. Well, strange as it may seem at first glance, the same goes for our pets! If we expose them in short doses and with reassurance to experiences they otherwise might find frightening or bothersome, we can "condition" them to associate those events with treats, praise, and pleasure.
One of the best things you can do if you purchase a puppy or kitten is get them used to having their paws, mouths, bellies, ears, and nails touched. This way, you can prevent the anxiety and fear that often otherwise occur with trips to the vet or to the groomer. The key is to do these sorts of things frequently, and only rarely actually clip nails or clean ears or brush teeth. This even works for zoo animals—if they only receive a shot one out of every 10 times they are prepped for one, they tend not to fear the sights and smells of alcohol and needles.
Slow, consistent, gentle, comforting introductions to these kinds of “invasive” experiences are the best way to condition your dog to being examined and groomed. Several times a day, gently touch and look over your pet’s ears, fur, and mouth. Give praise and treats as you do so. Don’t try to brush his teeth or clean his ears until he has learned that these kinds of interactions are usually fun and rewarding. Gently take his paws into your hands often, spreading the claws, stroking between the pads. Pretend to clip his nails without actually doing so, or only clipping one. Rub his gums gently; turn him on his back and stroke his belly.
This is also a great idea for introducing your pet to the veterinarian: take your pup in several times to see, smell, hear, and experience the vet’s office, perhaps even be gently examined. Lavish praise and treats on him. Then, when it comes time for a real appointment, especially one involving shots, your pet will be more relaxed and will learn not to fear his doctor; in fact, he may associate vet visits with tasty treats and lots of love from you.
At Pet Groomerie, we want to help your puppy learn that grooming is rewarding! We offer a “Puppy Program” that gradually introduces young dogs to the grooming environment; familiarizes them with the sights, sounds, and feelings of a grooming salon; and makes them comfortable with the process. Over five short visits, your puppy will become conditioned to the sound of the hair dryer; the smells of the bathing room and holding crates; the feel and sound of the nail clippers; the experience of the grooming table. Best of all, she will associate all of these with attention, affection, and treats! On her last puppy visit, she will receive a bath and full grooming, and she'll leave Pet Groomerie excited for her next appointment!
Call us or click here to arrange a Puppy Package for your new best friend, and start him off on a healthy, happy life!