Cooperative Care for Dogs
Cooperative care for dogs is an important and growing topic in the worlds of dog lovers and veterinary medicine. Cooperative care for dogs simply means training dogs (typically using food rewards) to be compliant partners in the care they need. This could be anything from regular dog grooming and dog care tasks such as keeping toenails the proper length to prevent breakage or injury to teaching your dog to maintain certain body positions while being examined or even while getting an x-ray or ultrasound by your veterinary team. One of our canine heroines, Clover, helped me shoot a little video demonstration of what cooperative care means here at Champion of My Heart.
Why cooperative care for dogs matters?
Cooperative care for dogs makes taking care of your dog easier and less stressful for you both. When you can provide routine care without behavioral drama, you're more likely to do it more often. And, the more you handle your dog and know your dog's body, the better able you will be to notice if something changes that requires attention by your veterinarian.
In addition, cooperative care for dogs that you do at home pays off at the veterinary hospital too. Dogs who understand cooperative care typically make better veterinary patients. They can experience less stress and be much less fractious when your veterinary team needs to examine or treat them.
Plus, it's a lot more fun to take care of a dog who enjoys (or at the least tolerates) it.
Here's a video (about 10-minutes) of Clover showing off her cooperative care skills.
My apologies that the lighting is a little extreme. The sun kept going in and out of the clouds, so to make the darker times more visible, I had to lighten the whole video. Eeeee!
Another example of cooperative care for dogs ...
Cooperative care is a life-long process!
Both Clover and Tori have good days and not-as-good days when it comes to their cooperative care. Here are a few tips for getting things done, even when it isn't going 100% well:
- Be patient.
- Work with the dog in front of you on any given day. In other words, don't assume every dog care session will be the same, and don't get frustrated about it.
Ease into cooperative care for dogs with things that are EASIER for your dog. That might mean only doing one toenail per day, or it might mean -- like in the video -- that you need to do the back nails first so that your dog gets into the rhythm of what you're doing before you try to do her front nails.
Do you have tips for teaching cooperative care? We'd love to hear them. Post a comment below!