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    1. #1
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      Abulafia's Avatar
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      Adolescence / Phobias

      Hoku is just about 6 months old, and in the past week or so she's developed an increasing phobia of the grooming brush.

      It's gone from "nervous avoidance" to real panic—running outside and waiting by the garage door as if to say "let's get in the car and leave now, please!"

      We don't really groom much, never have—it has been mild grooming to habituate her to the brush. Nothing has changed lately, save her reaction to the physical brush. She is visibly afraid of it.

      Should go without saying that she has never been yelled at, threatened, or hurt in any way. Has been with us since she was 7.5 weeks. This is not a reaction to a bad experience.

      I think it must be a fear coming out of adolescence. My impulse is to just not brush her for a bit, but continue to be as physically affectionate as always (she doesn't mind our hands on her; seeks this out). To keep an eye out for her stress or any other fears.

      Advice on this? Right now the brush fear is the only one I've observed. How long should the adolescent fear stage last, do you expect?

    2. #2
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      My position on these fear stages is to simply carry on with business as usual. Also, my dogs learn that if it is time to get brushed, bathed, nails clipped, etc. then it is time. I don't fool around with them. Obviously, I start when they are young and jackpot them as I clean ears, introduce the dremel, use different brushes, and so forth. If you act normally and carry on, I think most pups will quickly get over their issues. Get high value treats especially for grooming. That might incentivize your puppy.

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      Abulafia (11-25-2015)

    4. #3
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      you may have more success for the brushing issue by doing some desensitization over a week (similarly to what one would do for clippers). i'll see if I can find the step by step for that. basically you reward big time when brush is around (not too close) and over the week work up to touching the dog with it (sessions would be very short). you want the dog to associate the brush to good feelings (by associating it to the presence of something good )

      For new fears i'd keep going, maybe try treating depending how bad it is. Try to be more aware of their body language so you can reward and work them thru it (not wait til they shut down)

    5. #4
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      Many thanks for this—and any help you all can offer.

    6. #5
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      I do much the same as Dxboom, just proceed as normal. I groom on a grooming table once a week, dremel the tips of nails to maintain them, look in ears, eyes, nose, mouth, check teeth, feel for lumps and bumps (thats how I found Mia's MCT) etc... They learn that the exam/grooming is not optional.

      I would leash up Hoku, so she can't get away from you when it is time to be brushed, be firm, confident and in control. Business as usual, she is testing you (age related-and they don't call them bitches for nothing lol), and she needs to learn to trust you, and that the brush won't kill her. Leave the brush out in the open until it becomes a normal household fixture, and make grooming a happy time, she will come around.

    7. #6
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      Try smearing peanut butter on the fridge at her shoulder height for her to lick off and brush her. Keep the sessions short. Maybe one or two strokes for a week and work your way up (adding more peanut butter). There is actually a suction toy thing for this, you'd have to do a search. Also, rub your brush with a dryer sheet. Could be that she has been shocked by it. That'll really bother some dogs. Could also do one brush and treat and then be done, slowing working your way up to several treats.

      Linus has a similar problem with the dreaded dremel. He is just over two. He's never liked it and it's never hurt him. I sit on the floor and talk to and feed my other dog, getting kinda over the top with him -- quite the scene. Linus will sit a few feet away and after about five minutes, when he can't take it anymore, he comes over and I praise him and get him in position. You can do this with a pretend dog or even have someone else with you and play a game with her favorite toy, tossing it back and forth. I don't look at Linus or acknowledge him during this time, until he comes over to join in on the fun. He gets a treat after every nail -- something good like hotdog. I think it helps that he has a choice. If I chased him down and physically forced it, I'm pretty sure the only way I'd get to his nails would be by taking him to a groomer or vet and having three people hold him down. I like this method better, and he does too, even though it makes nails more of an event. What should take five minutes takes about 20. I know he doesn't fake being afraid nor is he "tricking me" because getting his nails done is an inconvenience. So, I want to work with him and find a way that gets the job done with little to no trauma.

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    9. #7
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      Ok, many thanks.

      I regularly "groom" her—hands all over, checking her ears, mouth, feet, between the toes, etc.—and she's always fine with that (still is). And we'd been brushing her every few days... she'd never loved it, it's true, but she was fine with it until a week or so ago, when "I'm not liking this much" turned into "no freaking way" and real fear. Not growling or anything, but whale eye and running away. So weird. Yesterday she was really freaked out.

      So, maybe just leave the brush out in the open for a few days, let her see it, then just do short sessions w/ high-reward treats. Sound right?

      I admit to not having a grooming table, and should probably get one so there is a set "place" for this to happen. What do you use? A formal "grooming table," or... well, I guess that's what you'd want. I surely can't put her on any of the tables we have. Ok, will look for that.

      And... another dumb question. The dremel—you use a special "nail grinder" type, right? I have a full Dremel tool that I use for wood working and rocket building (I build high powered rockets as a hobby, this is true), but that seems way too powerful for a dog's claws. So far she's kept hers nice and short just from our walks, but I know I need to do this soon. I just saw you can buy "nail grinders" from some pet sources. Is this what you are using?

    10. #8
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      Quote Originally Posted by Abulafia View Post
      Ok, many thanks.

      I regularly "groom" her—hands all over, checking her ears, mouth, feet, between the toes, etc.—and she's always fine with that (still is). And we'd been brushing her every few days... she'd never loved it, it's true, but she was fine with it until a week or so ago, when "I'm not liking this much" turned into "no freaking way" and real fear. Not growling or anything, but whale eye and running away. So weird. Yesterday she was really freaked out.

      So, maybe just leave the brush out in the open for a few days, let her see it, then just do short sessions w/ high-reward treats. Sound right?

      I admit to not having a grooming table, and should probably get one so there is a set "place" for this to happen. What do you use? A formal "grooming table," or... well, I guess that's what you'd want. I surely can't put her on any of the tables we have. Ok, will look for that.

      And... another dumb question. The dremel—you use a special "nail grinder" type, right? I have a full Dremel tool that I use for wood working and rocket building (I build high powered rockets as a hobby, this is true), but that seems way too powerful for a dog's claws. So far she's kept hers nice and short just from our walks, but I know I need to do this soon. I just saw you can buy "nail grinders" from some pet sources. Is this what you are using?
      For some reason she just hates being brushed. I find there is typically no rhyme or reason to these fears. But, she is afraid, so go slow, lots of food, keep it short. You might do it right before a meal and the meal is her reward. If you did this every time, she'd have a conditioned response to being brushed. But, she may never like it. Luckily she is a Lab so it's not like she is going to get matted fur! Your plan sounds good. See how it goes, adjust as necessary. I don't know that you need a grooming table unless you really want one. It won't help her fears, just makes things a bit easier for the humans. I just brush my dogs standing up and we dremel on the floor. They lay down between my legs, I do the front. Then I spin them around on the tile and do the back. The pet dremels (Pedipaws) are useless. Use the real tool with 120-grit (someone correct me if I am wrong) sandpaper.

    11. #9
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      You most likely don't need a grooming table with just one dog, I used it as an example because I groom multiple dogs per week, and it saves my back.

      Short sweet sessions with the brush, lots of praise and love, and high value treats to start and end the session, and a few in between, its a bonding session with my dogs and me, and we both look forward to it. This could be a fear period, and you just need to work through it with her, status quo. My dogs carry heavy coats, as I am sure yours will, and they do develop matts under their tail (on either side of their butt), so I take an undercoat rake and (gently) thin out that area especially when they are blowing coat.

      I use a regular corded variable speed dremel tool, and use 60 grit sanding bands, I use to use 120's for fine detail, but now I just bevel the nail tip with the 60. Go slow, and do not leave the dremel on the nail for more than a second or two. There is a doberman lady that has a great link on you tube on dremeling nails.

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    13. #10
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      Quote Originally Posted by Abulafia View Post
      Ok, many thanks.

      I regularly "groom" her—hands all over, checking her ears, mouth, feet, between the toes, etc.—and she's always fine with that (still is). And we'd been brushing her every few days... she'd never loved it, it's true, but she was fine with it until a week or so ago, when "I'm not liking this much" turned into "no freaking way" and real fear. Not growling or anything, but whale eye and running away. So weird. Yesterday she was really freaked out.

      So, maybe just leave the brush out in the open for a few days, let her see it, then just do short sessions w/ high-reward treats. Sound right?

      I admit to not having a grooming table, and should probably get one so there is a set "place" for this to happen. What do you use? A formal "grooming table," or... well, I guess that's what you'd want. I surely can't put her on any of the tables we have. Ok, will look for that.

      And... another dumb question. The dremel—you use a special "nail grinder" type, right? I have a full Dremel tool that I use for wood working and rocket building (I build high powered rockets as a hobby, this is true), but that seems way too powerful for a dog's claws. So far she's kept hers nice and short just from our walks, but I know I need to do this soon. I just saw you can buy "nail grinders" from some pet sources. Is this what you are using?
      If you really think having a set place will help, try putting a beach towel on the floor for her to stand on. That helps with hair cleanup, too.
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