It's OK to say No

by Emma Rex // October 2017

Its OK for them to say No

Nail clipping is no longer a chore.

It is very important that we allow our dogs to communicate with us when we are doing anything out of the ordinary with them, by this I mean that if we were having a training session, grooming, at the vets, introducing them to something new we want to watch their behaviour and allow that communication to take place.

For example, I own an 8 year old German Shepard named Willow; she is an absolutely amazing dog! Fantastic with people and other dogs but like many other dogs, does not like the vet! She is very nervous due to some previous bad experiences - one of which involved claw clipping. She does not appreciate her paws being touched at all, so nail clipping can be a real issue as you can imagine.

To help her learn that nail clipping isn’t as scary as she thinks, I started by very gently touching her ears, paws and teeth. Any time she became uncomfortable or worried I immediately stopped what I was doing. However, if she stayed relaxed, she got a treat! Gradually, she started to learn that good things (i.e. treats!!) happened when I was touching her ears, paws or teeth! Once she was totally comfortable with me gently touching these areas, I would hold them for very slightly longer, again rewarding her with a treat when she stayed calm and relaxed. If she at any point became even slightly nervous, I stopped immediately and later on we would go back to an area she was comfortable with. I gradually increased the degree to which I was handling her, always keeping the sessions short, rewarding her for staying calm and stopping the second she became uncomfortable, now I am able to clip her nails without her being worried at all!

You might experience this with your dogs in other ways, for example they might stop engaging as well during a training session. This could be for many reasons but it may be simply because they want a break! My dogs only like training for about 5 minutes at a time, and they tell me when they are bored by wandering off!

During our induction sessions and throughout the 5 week courses we run at Dog School West Midlands we discuss at length the ways our dogs communicate with us and the signs to look out for.

If you’d like to learn more give us a call on 07391 680154, or email us at wmidsdogschool@dogstrust.org.uk, or you can fill out an enquiry form by visiting our main page: www.dogstrustdogschool.org.uk/west-midlands