Once again is that period of the year: it’s time to brush the dog! During their annual molt, our dogs begin (or in the case of Argos, simply continue) to lose a lot of hair! It is a time when the dog should be brushed more, to help the process. But not all dogs love to be brushed, someone doesn’t even want to be touched! So, how can you do? Here are some tips based on our experience.
Brushing the reactive or fearful dog can be a problem!
I still remember very well that the first years with Argos were very hard, in every respect. Even the period of the molt was terrible: Argos absolutely did not want to be brushed, even if he was in great need! It took us almost four years to get used to the brush and two more to be able to use it for more than five minutes. And forget about taking a bath: that’s still off-limits but honestly, it’s not a problem because it’s not so necessary from my point of view.
Now, after a very long work, I’m able to take care of Argos’ hair without going crazy and especially without bothering him that much. How did we made it? A ton of patience.
How to brush a reactive or fearful dog
First, we have to understand the origin of the problem: as in most cases, the problem for the fearful or reactive dog arises from the fact that he doesn’t know the brush and the other tools that are used to take care of his hair, and so he puts himself on defensive mood. Then, don’t forget that the brush can hurt him, sticking in a knot or scratching the skin, and that’s it: the dog doesn’t want to be touched.
For this reason, as for all the news that needs to be introduced to the dog, it is necessary to proceed in a very gradual manner. In this case even more, because the positive marking of this object is much more difficult than, for example, the one of the harness. The dog understands that when he wears the harness, he’ll go for a walk and has fun, while with the brush, this association is not so easy and the relief that comes from its use is much less immediate. So, you need to have lots of patience.
-First, forget to use the brush the way it should be used, at least for a while. Let the dog discover it, play with it, explore it using the food (for example, with soft cheese or paté or surrounded by tasty snacks).
-In the meantime, work on touching the dog’s coat with your hand. There are dogs that hate being petted, so try to make the dog understand that contact can also be positive. Short and not very invasive caresses, they can make the dog understand that it is not so bad to be touched. And take your time, a lot of time. Argos needed YEARS before willingly accepting a cuddle, and even now this cuddle must be short.
-Then, learn to introduce yourself to the dog with joy and without anxiety: maybe invite him to play, for example doing a simple olfactory research. I ask Argos’s attention in a joyous tone of voice, then I ask him to sit down or stop and, after throwing some treats on the lawn/floor, I ask him to look for them.
-Before going to use the brush, try using the brush glove: it’s less effective for certain types of hair, but it’s also less invasive and is great for helping the dog to accept the brushing.
–Make short, very short sessions and always end them very positively, with a special game or food prize.
I know I have already said this several times, but I want to reiterate a concept: proceed step by step, without hurrying things. Your dog needs time to understand that it is not so terrible to let himself be brushed!