Want Your Dog to Cooperate for Grooming and Vet Care? Just Ask.

Want Your Dog to Cooperate for Grooming and Vet Care? Just Ask.

If you want your dog to cooperate, could it be as simple as asking? I think some of the most amazing skills that we can train animals are the many skills that involve real life uses. Are you willing to bet that your dog will quickly make the choice to cooperate when you ask for a paw during nail trimming or a settle for grooming? After training some skills and helping your dog feel differently about the grooming process, you will be feeling much more confident knowing that if you need your dog to cooperate, all you have to do is ask.

Have you ever had a professional pet groomer or your veterinarian tell you that your dog was difficult, nervous, excitable or aggressive? A sound dog can be triggered when put into stressful situations and although a day at the spa or a visit to Dr. Gives Treats a Lot does not appear to be at all stressful from our point of view, being restrained, having blood drawn or nails trimmed, can put some animals into a panic.

If you have a pet that can be less than easy to handle during grooming, handling or vet care, it’s time to have some fun training some of the most useful tricks your animal will learn. It’s much easier to train some skills (which can be used in other areas aside from grooming and care) than to put animals through unnecessary stress.

If zoo animals can be trained to cooperate during routine care, our pets can too!

Everyone’s concern when it comes to training for cooperative care is the time that they think it takes. The topic amongst professionals brings up concerns about helping clients find the time or get motivated to train these skills and for you, the pet owner, you are already slightly puzzled about the idea of training these skills. The thing is, our dogs already know how to do most of the behaviors that we train them. Your dog knew how to sit before you started calling it sit. Our job is to put the behaviors on cue and reward our dogs for performing the behaviors when asked. In addition, you will be absolutely amazed at how quickly you can get new skills on cue with your dog once you get started. Have you ever heard of a trick a day?

Some skills will take longer than others and grooming rehabilitation can be a lengthy process for dogs that already have a negative association with being handled or groomed, but training the simple skills will prevent such an association. 

Dogs are not the only animals we can train real life skills. Your cat can learn to go into a carrier on cue and your rabbit can learn go to his blanket (a target) for nail trimming.

You already walk, feed and play with your dog so adding training to your routine doesn’t take a whole lot of lifestyle changes. The thing about training your dog is, in order for it to work, you have to take action and train as well as practice. If you want your dog to cooperate the next time you ask, begin by training some tricks that will be useful.

You can give your dog a chance to practice skills during day-to-day life. Ask your dog for a skill before you throw the ball or put the food bowl down.

As talked about before, our behavior and our mindset are so closely related to the way we train our dogs. Start to think of these important life skills as tricks and games to play with your dog, and you will fly through new skills quickly-wondering what is next? Training and bonding with your dog is fun!

We train our dogs for many reasons. The purpose of training might be for fun or competition but training to help dogs with day-to-day life and to keep our dogs safe and happy is always the most important.  Are you ready to have fun training your dog some life skills for cooperative care?


Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

Focus target: Looking at a target during a nail trim

DIY nail filing: Dog scratches a scratch board to file nails

Side settle: Dog rests on side for brushing

Shadow: Dog moves between owner and wall, switching positions as needed to remain next to a barrier at all times so the dog is out of the way in waiting rooms

Up on table or in tub: Dog steps up onto a grooming table or in the tub on cue.

Target: Dog touches a target which can be used to distract the dog during routine care

Paw: Dog offers each paw for nail trims

Show stack: Dog stands for grooming


Are you a groomer, veterinarian or trainer working hard towards fear-free pet care? Join me to cover this important topic on Positive Pets.


Happy Training!




Why Training Your Dog a Leave-it is Not The Same as Teaching Food Control

Why Training Your Dog a Leave-it is Not The Same as Teaching Food Control

Training Yourself to Train Your Dog

Training Yourself to Train Your Dog