Nail clipping was one of the most dreaded events in my household. It didn't matter if it was the dog, or the cat. The anxiety levels ran into celestial orbit.
One day I discovered that I could have this done as part of the check-up at the vets. What a sweet day that was. No longer would I be mauled by towel wrapped cat fury as my fear of cutting too high had me dithering and out-extending my poor pets attention span. The days of huge brown eyes full of soulful accusation and jerk-away-fear were done!
Or at least so I thought...
The reality was a different matter altogether. The animals were still stressed even with the vets experienced handling. While medicating was an option I got to wondering if there was a better way. Some days I even remember to ask such questions aloud and sure enough advice soon piled in.
With dogs the training is 'simplistic'. It involves slow, consistent and regular introduction with rewards as the focus. if only I had known! Extra tips were soon added to help round out the 'how to'. These included a mat that was a place they were encouraged to stand on for their rewards. Non-slip grip beneath the mat helped keep the mat safe and secure in one spot. I didn't realise that this soon equated to the examination table in the clinic!
How quickly simplistic became riddled with little details, tips and tricks to ensure that training was positive and always on an upswing. A deep breath, some dialling back on advice and I took to the web for some visual queues. I soon discovered a behavioural specialist that had a nice simple approach to helping reduce the stress by making the process clear and easy to apply for successful results. Introducing Laura Monaco Torelli, here she is at work with Deenie.
Check the Video Out! (More importantly read all the text with the post!)
Of course, an experienced trainer made it look easy. The key was the layered approach and taking things slowly. Ok. So my dog didn't wave a paw on queue, or sit quite so eagerly. The idea of little bite sized chucks training approach to this made it look like something I could do. I am not about to bound off and try it all in one go. I'll leave that to the specialists. For me it is about beginning with a slow introduction one a day at a time and adding a little more with the optimism that in time I'll have success.
I have no doubt Antoinette and Mike at the Animal Medical Clinic can equip you with nail trimmers and syringe to fill with peanut butter for reward if you'd like to give the training in this video a go. With cats the reward changes to wet-food, often off a wooden spatula. The concentration span is more whimsical, but the process is the same.
There are so many benefits to encouraging and rewarding behaviour that is relaxed and without stress. Should one of our fury companions find an ingrown nail or a nail caught and torn, having them relaxed about being handled is Win-Win.
While this blog started from the view point of making it easier to trim nails, it soon became apparent to me that behavioural training like this can help encourage a sense of well-being in our fury friends. The real upside was the trust that builds and bonds with a confidence that any fearful situation can be overcome or at least managed.