Jump to section
You pull out the brush to get the mats out of your long-haired Collie mix, and he runs for the bedroom and slides deftly under the bed, right where you can't reach him. If your dog does not like getting brushed you may need to do a little training and make some adjustments to teach your dog that getting brushed is a good thing, feels great, and won't hurt, making grooming and brushing a positive experience for both you and your dog. A little bit of adjustment in grooming tools, and practice, along with lots of positive reinforcement and your pampered pooch will be running too you as soon as he sees the brush, not away from you. In fact, you might even create a bit of a diva, or a dandy, who insists on a thorough brushing session, as your dog learns to love being brushed.
Dogs should not be afraid of or avoid being brushed. Your goal is to have your dog calmly come to you when presented with his brush, and sit, stand, or lie down as required while you brush his fur, remove debris, and untangle his coat. Your dog should be calm and quiet and allow you to manipulate him as required to reach all his fur or hair with the brush. Be careful to make this a positive experience for your dog by avoiding pulling hair, or brushing too hard, which can irritate your dog's skin. Don’t be in a rush, lose patience, or punish your dog for not cooperating. Keep grooming sessions short at first--you can brush your dog in several short sessions instead of one long one if that is more effective. Take your time and combine with treats and lots of praise, so your dog enjoys being brushed. In no time your dog will be coming to you for brushing.
You will need the right tools for grooming your dog. Brushes or combs that are appropriate for your dog's hair coat, size, and age should be employed. Young dogs or dogs unfamiliar with being brushed can be started with soft brushes that feel good and do not pull hair. As you work through your dog's coat and it becomes better conditioned, and your dog is used to the feeling of being brushed, you can use brushes that are more sturdy for removing tangles and mats. You will want to have lots of treats on hand, and a distraction-free environment with good footing, so your dog does not slip and feels secure while being groomed. Some people employ a clicker as part of training their dog to be quiet and calm while being brushed. If you use a clicker for training your dog's other behaviors, this will be more effective. You can also use toys to reward your dog for allowing you to brush him and behaving quietly.
The Associate with Food Method
Feed with brush
Bring out the brush prior to feeding your dog. In the presence of the brush, feed your dog. Your dog will learn that good things follow the presence of the brush.
Present the brush. If the dog reacts calmly, click to capture that behavior and reward with a treat.
Touch with brush
Touch your dog with the brush. If your dog stays in place, click and reward.
Stroke with brush
Stroke your dog with the brush, once or twice. Click and reward when your dog remains in place and allows you to stoke him with the brush. If your dog moves, go back to a previous step and repeat.
Gradually increase the length of time you stroke your dog with the brush before clicking and treating.
Remove click delay treat
Eventually remove the click and then withhold the treat until grooming is complete.
The Incorporate Play Method
Present toy and brush
If you have an especially young or active dog that does not like to hold still for a grooming session, incorporate a toy and play into grooming time. Present the brush then present a favorite ball or toy. Play with your dog in the presence of the brush.
Touch and play
Touch the brush to your dog, if your dog holds still, present the toy and play some more. If your dog avoids the brush, stop play and try again later.
Stroke and play
Gradually stroke your dog with the brush before throwing the ball or toy for your dog as a reward for allowing you to brush him. This makes a game of being brushed, incorporating it into play. You can incorporate a clicker to capture his calm behavior while being brushed followed by play.
Have your dog allow you to stroke him with the brush 2 or 3 times, then 4 or 5 and increase gradually. After each step, throw his ball or toy and play.
Eventually your dog will allow you to completely brush him followed by an opportunity for vigorous play time with his toy.
The Acclimatize Method
Start by petting your dog.
Pet and brush
Incorporate the brush into petting just one or two strokes at a time.
Distract and brush
Distract your dog by talking to him, presenting his with a chew toy to gnaw on while you brush him a few strokes.
Feed and brush
Feed your dog, pet him while feeding, and stroke him with the brush a few times while eating.
Perform these quick short brushes multiple times a day repeatedly for several weeks as necessary to acclimatize your dog to the brush. Gradually increase the number of strokes in your quick brushes until your dog tolerates being brushed for several minutes.
By Laurie Haggart
Published: 10/13/2017, edited: 01/08/2021