Therapy Dogs International Testing Part 3

Today’s segment:

TEST 3: APPEARANCE AND GROOMING

In this test the evaluator will gently examine your dog — lightly touching the body, looking in ears and picking up front paws as well as passing a grooming tool over your dog’s coat.

If you regularly groom your dog the above sounds like it should be easy… not so fast! I can’t tell you how many dogs are really uncomfortable with people touching their front feet! If you have one of those dogs you need to take some time to desensitize your dog to having their feet touched & picked up. Desensitization is basically the process of changing one’s perception of something, in this case from bad to good.

I would suggest starting this when your dog’s just had some good exercise, so he’s a little tired not wired. If you can sit on the floor with him with a few tasty treats in your hand touch a paw and give a treat. Repeat. If your dog’s relaxed you can try to pick up the paw in your hand, while feeding a treat with the other. If your dog starts to squirm take it a bit slower. You don’t want your dog to have any reaction at all, except maybe a little anticipation for the treat. Practice this daily until you can pick up each front foot (alternately) with no fussing, ultimately delaying the treat until you’re done with the examination. This may take a week or two, but it’s well worth it.

Unless your dog has had ear infections you will probably not have as much of a problem with the ear inspections, but make sure you practice and make it rewarding and enjoyable for your dog.

Regarding the grooming — make sure you bring your own grooming equipment! Something your dog has experience with and willingly accepts. I’ve seen dogs freak when approached with a tool they’ve never seen before!

Good luck with your grooming 🙂

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