What your dog isn’t telling you
If your pooch could talk, they'd have a few pointers on how to make life a little easier for everyone. If you want to know the best ways to groom, train and bond, read on.
1. Groom me good
2. Groom me gentle
For a long coat, hold the hair down at the roots so you don’t tug the skin. Just like you, I don’t like it when you yank at the knots. Be patient.
3. Bath time
Brush and comb me before you try the bath thing. And only bathe me when I’m dirty or need a flea bath. Too much bathing leaves skin dry and flaky.
4. All lathered up
Put a rubber mat in the tub so I don’t slip, please. Use lukewarm water to wet me from head to tail. Shampoo hind legs, tail and rear end, then the body, chest and front legs. After that, carefully wet my head and shampoo. Cover ears and eyes so no soap gets in.
5. Trimming my nails
Nails are softer after a bath, so that’s the time to trim them if necessary. Don’t cut them down to the “quick,” the pink area inside the nail. That’s living tissue with blood supply and nerves. (And yes, I’ll complain about that.)
6. Treat! Treat! Treat!
Reward me for good behavior, rather than punishing me when I do the wrong thing.
7. Be consistent
Apply the same rules at all time, using the same commands and the same rewards.
8. I'm energetic
If I have lots of energy and you’re trying to teach me something, let me burn off a bit of that energy in the backyard before going for a walk.
9. Learning to sit is pretty easy
Here’s how to teach us: Face the dog with a treat in your hand and, as the dog trots toward you, hold it over the dog’s head. Keeping the eyes on the treat, the dog will back up and sit down. As they do, say, “Sit!” Reward with the treat.
10. Ignore me
To stop me from jumping up, don’t make eye contact and don’t touch or talk to the dog. If a dog is ignored, he learns that this isn’t the way to get attention and that it’s calm behavior that wins rewards.
11. Keep me calm in a storm
Kathy Diamond Davis, author of Therapy Dogs, has some recommendations: Some dogs like to be cuddled; they may really fear being left alone as it thunders. For other dogs, distraction works.
If they’re having fun, they’re less likely to focus on the storm. And lots of background noise can help, so try turning on a fan. If your pet is so frantic that she tries to escape or is destructive, keep her in a crate or other confined space, if that calms her.
12. Comfort noises
I like a little background noise while you’re gone. If you leave the radio on, I’ll be a lot happier when you’re out picking up biscuits for me.
13. Safety zone of my own
Having my own safe spot makes me feel better when I’m stressed. A crate is like a cave for me, and I love it. My own little bed is another thing I’m thrilled to have.