Getting Your Dog to Help You Reach the Right Places

Grooming goes much more easily when your dog is willing to help you. Your dog doesn't necessarily have to compete in dog shows or attend obedience-training classes to know a few key cues that can make your job of grooming him that much easier.

Your dog needs to know how to i Get onto and off of the grooming table i Sit on command i Lie down on one side or the other

Showing your dog how to do these things takes a certain amount of patience on your part and his. After he catches on, grooming will go much more quickly.

Helping your dog onto the grooming table

Getting your dog up on the grooming table is an important part of grooming. After all, you can't use the grooming table to groom your dog if you can't get your dog on it.

If you have a small- to medium-sized dog, picking her up and putting her on the grooming table isn't such a big chore. But if you have a large- or super-sized pooch, you're likely to schedule visits to your chiropractor after grooming sessions if you use that approach.

The two ways to coax your dog onto the table without hurting your back require training and may depend on whether your dog is capable. You can show your dog how to jump up on the table or provide accommodations that enable your dog to climb up on the table. Either way, after you show your dog how to get up on the table, you still need to make her stay there.

If your dog is arthritic, young, or just not athletic, a ramp or steps can be a handy solution. Several different kinds of steps and ramps are available.

Although most dogs love to hop onto the grooming table because they think they're getting away with climbing on the furniture, a few may be apprehensive. If you're trying to convince your dog to hop up onto the table and she just won't do it — even for the yummiest of treats — try using:

1 A lower table. A shorter table, such as an old coffee table or other sturdy piece of furniture, can make hopping up easier for your dog. You then try working up to higher surfaces. Four cinder blocks and a heavy board or piece of plywood or adjustable agility equipment also work. After a little practice at lower heights, you can try the grooming table again.

1 A different surface. Look at the surface of your grooming table. If it's slick, try putting a piece of rubber-backed carpet on it. The carpet won't slide, and neither will your dog when she jumps on it.

1 A sturdier grooming table. Dogs hate wobbly things, and if your grooming table wobbles in any way, fix it or get a sturdier one. You don't want the table to wobble or (worse yet!) collapse while you're working on your dog.

Never force a puppy or an injured, old, arthritic, or small dog to jump onto the table. Doing so can cause the dog serious injury.

Regardless of whether your dog is capable of jumping onto the table or whether stature, age, or infirmity prohibit her from doing so, you can find a way to train your dog to get up on the table and stay there. All you need to do is choose a time when your dog is more attentive and maybe a little hungry, have plenty of treats on hand, and follow these steps:

1. Bring your dog to the table.

Let her sniff it and become comfortable with it.

2. Show your dog a treat and say "Table."

Use the treat to lure her up onto the table or the ramp or steps, depending on which method you're using.

You may not get her full compliance, but that's okay. Reward your dog for any positive behavior toward getting onto the table, such as putting her front feet on the table or moving to the next step or farther up the ramp.

3. When your dog hops up or climbs onto the table, give her a treat and plenty of praise.

4. Lengthen the time your dog is on the table by telling her to "Stay" and holding her there with a treat.

Start with only a few seconds and then gradually increase the time.

5. Release your dog with the word "Okay," which means she can jump off (or walk back down the ramp or steps).

Some dogs can injure themselves jumping off a table, even one as low as a grooming table. If you can, support the dog or carry her off so she doesn't get hurt.

Teaching Sit

The Sit cue should be one of the first cues your dog learns. If she hasn't learned it yet, teach it to her now. Sit is important because it gives you basic control over your dog. When your dog's moving around and not staying in one place, the Sit cue helps you regain that kind of control. What could be easier than showing your dog how to sit in one place?

When you start showing your dog the Sit cue, choose a quiet place with few distractions and show her while she's on the floor or the ground. Be sure to have some treats ready, and place your dog on a leash so you can keep her with you. To show your dog the Sit command, follow these steps:

1. Hold a treat above your dog's nose and slowly move it toward your dog so that she follows it (see Figure 4-1).

2. As your dog follows the treat, put your opposite hand on your dog's rear end and gently apply downward pressure on the hindquarters.

3. As your dog starts to sit, give her the command to "Sit."

4. When your dog sits, give her the treat.

If your dog resists this method, try having her stand with a wall behind her. That way, as you move the treat back towards her, she has no place to go and will sit.

Figure 4-1:

Move the treat back toward your dog as you give the Sit cue.

Figure 4-1:

Move the treat back toward your dog as you give the Sit cue.

Practice the Sit cue frequently to reinforce it. Get your dog completely comfortable with sitting before trying Sit in other areas such as on top of the grooming table.

Teaching your dog to lie on his side

One of the most useful cues for grooming your dog is a variant of the Down cue. At some point, you have to show your dog how to lie on his side so you can brush his sides and belly and work on his legs and paws. Show your dog the Down cue first, and then introduce the Side cue. Again, you need treats, a quiet place, and your dog on leash. Work at ground level before moving your training session up onto the grooming table. Your dog also needs to know the Sit cue before you start this exercise. Here's how you show your dog the Down cue:

1. Put your dog in the Sit position (see the preceding section).

2. Show your dog a treat, and move it from in front of his nose downward to his chest while having him stay in the Sit position.

Your dog should follow the movement downward.

3. Give your dog the cue "Down" as he moves into the down position (see Figure 4-2).

4. When your dog's elbows touch the floor, give him the treat.

Practice Steps 1 through 4 several times so your dog becomes comfortable with it.

Figure 4-2:

Teach your dog the Down cue so it's easier for him to lie on his side.

Figure 4-2:

Teach your dog the Down cue so it's easier for him to lie on his side.

Next, you need to get your dog to lie down on his side, so follow these steps:

1. Put your dog in the Down position.

2. Show your dog a treat and move it sideways in an arc so that as your dog follows it, he puts the side of his head on the ground.

If your dog is stubborn and won't put his head down, try putting your hand along the opposite side of his head as you focus his attention on the treat (see Figure 4-3). Then, as you move the treat, move your hand, palm downward, so that your dog assumes there's no place to go on the other side.

3. Issue your dog the "Side" cue as he starts rolling over onto his side.

4. Practice the Down and Side cues together and often.

Show your dog how to follow the Side cue on both sides so that he understands it can mean either one.

Figure 4-3:

Place your hand on the side of your dog's head as you gently help him lie on his side.

Figure 4-3:

Place your hand on the side of your dog's head as you gently help him lie on his side.

Teaching her Stay

One cue that's useful for grooming your dog is the Stay. When your dog is on the table, you probably want her to stay there for at least a few seconds. To get her to stay, try the following steps:

1. With your dog on the table, preferably in a sitting or down position (see the preceding sections), tell her to "Stay."

2. As you vocalize the Stay command, hold your hand out in a stop or halt position, with palm flat and fingers extended upward.

Make a pushing motion toward your dog's nose for emphasis.

3. Wait for a few seconds, and if your dog stays, reward her.

If she breaks her Stay, put her back in position without a treat and repeat Steps 1 through 3.

4. Release your dog from the Stay command by saying "Okay" and giving her a treat.

"Okay" means she doesn't have to hold the Stay any longer. If she doesn't figure that out, make a happy fuss over her — she'll get it.

5. After your dog is successful at holding a Stay for a few seconds, gradually lengthen the amount of time.

If at any time she doesn't stay, go back to the previous shorter amount of time and try again.

Dog Owners Handbook

Dog Owners Handbook

There are over a hundred registered breeds of dogs. Recognizing the type of the dog is basically associated with its breed. A purebred animal belongs to a documented and acknowledged group of unmixed lineage. Before a breed of dog is recognized, it must be proven that mating two adult dogs of the sametype would have passed on their exact characteristics, both appearance and behavior, to their offspring.

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