TRAINERS CORNER

This is the first regular editorial on training issues common to owning and enjoying your dog. Please

realize this is the considered opinion on one person and you should evaluate the appropriateness of

these training methods for your dog.

Today, I took a recently rescued dog (CLAYTON- check him out in www.popopitbulls.org 's ADOPT ME page as well as pictured in this blog post)to the vet to get him checked for heartworms. He came from a shelter where he had been for 3 months. While he was there he had quite a bit of vet work done, including being treated for a dog attack. To keep everyone safe, it was necessary to muzzle him, which brings us to the subject of this column.

This dog had been muzzled to receive medical care before and it most likely was not pleasant for him. Getting the muzzle on was tricky as he didn’t think we should be doing that and he’s a big strong dog. We

managed to get it in place without too much trouble since the vet and I have worked together and we

both knew what we were doing. It got me to thinking about how to make it easier for all of us.

We teach our dogs all sorts of exercises to make our lives easier – walking on leash, stays, recalls and

grooming routines. Very few people worry teaching about vet specifc behaviors. Our dogs tolerate

handling of strangers as a matter of course so the exam itself is generally not a problem. They are taught

to stay for all sorts of situations so holding still is not an obstacle. Shots are over quickly and a treat

encourages the dog to forgive us for the discomfort.

Sometimes, even the nicest dog needs to be muzzled to ensure safety. Maybe he is injured and the

treatment is painful. Maybe he must be absolutely still in an uncomfortable posiyion, for example, an x-

ray. If a dog has never seen, let alone worn, a muzzle it will add stress to an already stressful situation

to use one. If the dog has been properly introduced to a muzzle and regards it as just another training

exercise the dog will accept it and not stress nearly as much.

Hold the open muzzle in front of your dog’s face with a treat in the other hand. When he/she sticks his/her nose in the muzzle to get the treat, give it to him/her and praise. Do this several times-until he is comfortable

with his nose in the muzzle- before you fasten the strap behind his head. Once he has the muzzle on

continue to give treats for a few seconds and then remove. Repeat and extend the time in the muzzle until he is relaxed with the muzzle on.

Each dog has a different tolerance for having something around their nose. Be patient and take a relaxed

approach for the best results.

For additional training techniques and advice, or to schedule a time to meet with Patty for one of her training courses (also available through SKYPE), email nikki@popopitbulls.org.

Stay tuned for Patty's next blog, told from the perspective of her Australian

Shepard - CARGO :)

Until next time, here’s hoping you bark up all the right trees!

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