You look down at your dog, who has never been groomed before, and wonder how he will handle the experience. You begin to feel anxious for him, wondering if there is anything that you can do to make the experience more pleasant for him. Right now he is young, only four months old, but grooming is something that he will have to experience for the rest of his life, especially with his long fur and floppy ears. You want to start your Shih Tzu off right and create positive associations with grooming, so that he will not dread it later.
Zoey is extremely reactive to touch, especially grooming around her face. She is a rescue, so we do not know much about her history. She is also an extremely picky eater, so it's difficult to work on desensitization with treats. It has become almost impossible to groom her face, even for professionals, as she lunges, flails and bites.
Hello, have you taken Zoey to the vet to rule out an injury, arthritis, or dental issue that makes her sensitive? That would be my first step. Ask the vet for a grooming recommendation while there. Then, I would make an inquiry with the rescue organization to see where they used to take Zoey for grooming. Perhaps they have someone they use who is used to dealing with aggressive dogs, Once you do get a recommendation, ask if you can bring Zoey there for mini visits, starting with sessions without any grooming at all. Then, work up to a brushing, a small trim, etc.so that she gets to know the groomer and feels more comfortable. You can work on teaching the Leave It Method from this guide to try and train her not to bite (I would not try the Pressure Method): https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite. All the best to you and Zoey!
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I have just got a shih tzu and she won't let me clean her face or brush her she snaps at me and growls what can I do to get her to let me do this at home
Hello Stacy, First, work on desensitizing her to being touched in general. Use her daily meal kibble and pair touches with pieces of food. For example, touch her shoulder and give a treat at the same time, touch her paw and give a treat, touch her tail and give a treat, touch her ear and give a treat, touch her collar and give a treat. Feed her her entire meal this way as often as you can. Start by touching the areas she is more comfortable with first and gradually move onto areas she likes less, and be extra careful and spend extra time practicing with the areas she is unsure of. If you can't even do this part without being bitten, then practice this while she is wearing a basket muzzle and feed the treats through the holes - being as gentle as you can and pairing the muzzle with lots of treats and gradually introducing that with food also first. When she can stay relaxed while you are touching her all over, then introduce the brush and facecloth. First, show her the tools and give a treat. Practice until she is comfortable with them being around. Next, reward when she touches them. When she is used to that, touch her gently with them and give a treat - stop touching as soon as the treat is gone at this point. As she improves, touch for longer and give multiple treats in a row, then move the brush or cloth a bit while giving treats. You can also sprinkle a few treats on the ground as she improves and lets you brush for longer. As this stage if you come across any knots, I would cut them out instead of pulling on tangles. Introduce the scissors the same way you did the cloth and brush. As she gets better, try to keep up with brushing to minimize knots to keep the brushing experience pleasant. You can also experiment with different brushes because some will feel better than others - just like when you were a kid and certain brushes hurt and others were fine. Focus the most on desensitizing her to touch and the tools like i described above, but also work on building her trust and respect for you in general - the aggression surrounding grooming could just be fear or being groomed from past bad experience but it could also be a sign of needing a better relationship in the areas of trust and respect. Practicing the following commands and protocols can help build those without too much confrontation. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo All three methods: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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He has become very growly and snappy at night and also the groomer said he nearly bit her as he doesn't like getting groomed anymore
Hello Julie, If both are new behaviors I would actually consider a speaking with your vet to make sure there isn't an injury, infection, or something causing pup to feel bad and be sensitive to touch. I am not a vet. If the issue is behavioral only, I would work on desensitizing pup to being touched. Use pup's daily meal kibble and as many meals a week as you can, give pup one piece of their kibble each time you gently touch them somewhere. Be gentle and start with areas pup likes being touched. When pup is has gotten to the point where they enjoy being touched and are relaxed during this game, then practice with grooming tools, simply let pup sniff each each, giving a treat each time, without grooming with them. When pup does well with that, then gently touch pup with the tool without grooming. Practice each step with each tool until pup is totally relaxed about the tool before progressing to the next steps. Gradually touch pup more and more with each tool, grooming pup a tiny bit more as they improve at each session, going at a pace pup can stay relaxed about, using treats for each touch. For the general growling and snapping, if pup isn't in pain in some way, I would need a bit more information to give advice about that behavior. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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