PET SPOTLIGHT: Train Your Pet to Love Grooming and Nail Trims
By Space Coast Daily // July 4, 2019
It’s much easier if you are starting with a new puppy
Dogs and cats both can learn to tolerate nail trimmings and with enough time, you can help them to love this time too. It’s so much easier if you are starting with a new puppy, but these techniques will work for anyone with any dog or cat.
It’s important to understand that they are afraid, it feels strange, and sometimes with older animals that are newly adopted, they’ve had a bad experience in the past. Remember to show compassion, never anger or frustration with them – that only makes matters worse.
Give them the time they need and help make things fun, rather than stressful.
1) First of all, a lot of dogs and cats will bite when they are under stress, especially when afraid.
The best thing to do with a dog or cat is to occupy their mouth with something that makes it hard to bite you and ideally have a person helping you.
Using a cup big enough for their entire muzzle to reach into, place peanut butter, whipped cream, honey, or yogurt in the bottom, Have your helper keep the dog focused on the yummies in the cup while you simply pick up each foot and rub it in your hand. Do not do anything else at this point. Just touch the feet.
If this goes well, you can go to the next phase the following day. Do not push them and move too fast.
2) The next phase is to begin playing with their feet the same as the last time, but now attempt to touch one nail and just wiggle it slightly.
If you can wiggle one, move to the next one. Keep touching them for a few minutes to get them used to have their feet touched and their nails played with while they get these amazing treats from a cup.
You are still not ready to clip any nails yet! You should repeat this process of playing with the nails for a few days, at least three times.
3) You’ve done all the practice runs and played with the nails and your animal is beginning to ignore the nail play and focus on the treat cup.
It’s time to clip a nail. If there is ANY negative reaction, stop with the one nail and go back to playing with them and try another nail the following day and see how it goes.
You may only do one nail at a time over the course of several days before you can sneak in the second nail. This is a very slow process but it beats the more forceful methods that include muzzling.
For cats, the method is the same but they are quicker and your helper will need to be very good at distracting them. If you must, you can try using an Elizabethan collar to prevent them from getting their teeth on you. This is referred to a cone collar sometimes.
Cats are more flexible and can twist around and claw you. You might want to wear some gardening gloves made of leather to prevent scratches as well. You must go even slower with cats than with dogs. Your helper may also have to resort to holding the cat by the scruff to control the head.
You really want to try to not have to do any restraining by offering them the goodies only while they allow you to touch their feet. The moment that they don’t want you touching them, the treat disappears as well.
You can find more specific cat information at Pet Blogish, where there are tons of articles on cat care.
In time, they come to understand that it is tit for tat. In order to get the food, I must allow the touch. Clicker training is another powerful method of teaching animals what behavior is desired and cats actually take to this quite well.
Dogs can learn virtually anything with clicker training. Karen Pryor is one of the first trainers of dogs that utilized clicker training methods and positive reinforcement and her books go into great detail on how to properly clicker train and use this amazing and simple tool to bridge the communication gap between you and your pet. All animals can be clicker trained.
Even elephants at zoos are trained to lift their feet for inspection through a fence by their trainers with clicker training. It helps the animal to understand exactly when they’ve done what you wanted and they are rewarded, making it all very positive.
To teach them to love something, you need to associate it with something enjoyable. Food is typically that thing for most animals. Cats can be finicky but they all have a weakness, whether it is catnip, tuna, or cheese, you simply need to find it.
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