Question: How do you manage to do restraint free grooming?
My approach to restraint free grooming is to allow the dog to become familiar with the environment and the premises without any verbal interruption or handling. This can take up to 20 mins depending on the personality of the dog. Some settle very quickly and others will take longer. Just be patient! I place a nice comfy bed down which the dog will find indicating that they are happy with the new environment.
Next it is about introducing myself and the other members of the team. With treats in hand, and again with very little verbal sounds, a treat is offered and repeated. If you move around the place, the dog will typically follow you!
Some play time and rewarding will also give you an opportunity to see if the dog is nervous about being touched on any areas of the body. Feet and nails are a typical areas. I like to spend time rewarding a calmness of mind that allows me to handle and hold the paws, nails etc.
At this point I have established a relationship of trust with the dog. Introduction to the table and combing should be a very easy process. Continual treating the dog for good behaviour must be done.
By establishing this relationship with the dog and most importantly not rushing the process of allowing the dog to become familiar with the environment and persons makes grooming a safer and enjoyable process without the use of a neck restraint and equipment such as muzzles or straps.
Of course handling of the dog must be dome gently and with full awareness from the groomer at all times. There are places one can touch and massage to maintain a more relaxed control of the dog. I like to use T-Touch and trigger point principles. Now punishment for me – or as I like to call it – Disapproval is shown by ignoring the dog, no eye contact, noise or touch. Just step away and turn side on. It is a natural response between dogs to show that they are not happy with the response of other dogs. It does not take much time at all – 3 time outs of 3 seconds gets the message through.
Positive reward behaviour is always longer lasting and promotes a feeling of well being and most importantly – trust.