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Cooperative Care!



Did you know that you can prepare your dog to make vet visits, grooming, and at-home husbandry much less stressful for you and your dog?  Imagine how much more enjoyable it would be to have a dog who enjoys getting their nails trimmed at home or who is easy to handle at the vet’s office? 


Here are our tips for making normal care lower stress for both you and your pup!


  1. Be Prepared for Vet Trips—bring a rubber-backed mat to place on the floor or on the table to give your dog more traction.  Bring high value treats like chicken, ez-cheese, or hot dogs to feed your pup during the exam to help distract them or to make it into a good experience.

  2. Happy visits to the vet and groomer—talk to your vet or groomer about bringing your dog in at a convenient time for them when you can just let your pup sniff around, have some treats, and leave with nothing bad happening.   If you have a puppy, start these visits early!

  3. Practice at home—practice what a vet visit will be like from the comfort of your dog’s own home. Put their mat on an elevated surface/table and give them treats and have a helper pet and “examine” them while they get snacks.

  4. Train skills you can use at the vet or groomer—teaching your dog to calmly stand with his or her chin resting on a pillow on a chair or in your palm to keep them still during a medical exam. Using a well-trained chin rest can reduce the need for stressful restraint.  If your dog is uncomfortable, you can teach them to like wearing a basket muzzle so everyone can be more relaxed during the exam and they can still eat treats happily.

  5. Use treats to teach them to love handling—practice touching their feet, holding their feet, gently rubbing their toes, and looking in their ears while you feed them extra special snacks.  If at any point they pull away or are reluctant, let them back away and try again with less intense handling or better treats!

  6. Toys for cooperative caretry filling the Sticky Bone or an AquaPaw with canned dog food or peanut butter and suction it to a flat surface for bath time, grooming time, or nail trims!  They are occupied with eating their snacks while you have two hands to work!

  7. Be patient, let your dog say noif your dog is uncomfortable, don’t force it.  Let them walk away or take a break if they get uncomfortable and try again later or wait for them to come back and engage with the activity.  You can increase your value of food and/or make it easier for your dog to be successful next time. 

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