Grooming Issues with my Collie
I own a collie mix named Buck. He is a sweet dog with a long stringy hair that needs grooming often. He does not enjoy this activity and has bitten me several times. The last bite drew blood and scared me a lot. Buck is a friendly dog who loves people, he only gets aggressive when I try to brush him on his back, belly, or feet. This behavior is getting worse, sometimes he growls if I pet him in the wrong place. Is there anything you can suggest to help? Thanks!
Answer from expert dog training
Sometimes simple things like brushing your favorite canine can become a problem when aggression occurs. Buck’s aggression should be handled with caution, since some grooming attempts have resulted in blood loss. This unwanted behavior can be managed and controlled with some correct ‘brushing’ therapy.
Working with aggression. When working with a dog that has displayed aggression it is very important to teach with “praise”. Using aggression to correct aggression does not work. You must teach him how you want him to behave.
Brush” Therapy. Food training is a good way to ease your canine’s grooming phobia. Use a special food treat offered only when the brush comes out. Let your dog see the brush and praise him when he shows confidence or relaxes. Gradually attempt the use the brush, praising him when he accepts grooming. Grooming time should be a wonderful, relaxing, fun filled event for Buck.
Obedience Training. Obedience training can correct and solve most behavior problems. Daily obedience training will promote trust and confidence. A dog that trust his master shouldn’t have a problem being brushed. If you are dealing with dominance aggression, obedience training will certainly help. Make your canine work commands, this will ensure your alpha position in the pack. I suggest making Buck ‘sit’ for any attention he receives. Also, work on the ‘stand for exam’ command. Use food. Start Buck in a ‘sit’, then make him lean forward for the treat, at the same time use the back of your other hand to gently lift up on Buck’s belly. Give the command ‘stand’ as Buck leans forward and stands for the food reward. Remember lots of praise. Use this command during brushing therapy.
Positive Training It is very important to use positive training methods when dealing with a canine phobia. Keeping your canine relaxed during the exercises by using lots of food treats and praise. Make brushing therapy a game, or use the brush during play time. Try grooming Buck while you walk. He will be less likely to become aggressive during fun activities.
Training Buck to accept the brush will be a challenge. Give him plenty of time to adjust to the new grooming and petting exercises. Make it a nice experience for the dog. Most canines can be desensitized to grooming with positive training methods. Food training can ease anxiety and help relax your canine. By teaching obedience, we learn to communicate with our canine, and our pet dog responds with acceptable behavior! Good Luck!