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Most people think cleaning out kennels and grooming as a laborious task, as something that interrupts their day or other plans.
When you look at the chores to be done you need to design a system for your dog. Like a series of steps revolving around each procedure with tasks for your dog to perform. Here ‘s what I do to illustrate this point. Before I open the kennel door my K9 has to be in the sit position or I don’t open the door. My dog will automatically sit when he sees me coming. I open the door wait a few seconds and then command my dog to exit. As soon as my dog exits the pen, I command my dog to lie on a place mat. You see at no time will my dog have free time to do anything wrong until I’m prepared to supervise this behavior. Allowing my dog to roam around the backyard while I’m distracted with other things has the potential for a problem to occur. Avoiding problems is the secret to a good K9 handler.
Now while my dog is relaxed and safe from harm I begin cleaning out the pen. I’ll check the kennel for foreign objects like things that may have crawled in or put in deliberately by a mystery person or may have blown in by the wind. Regardless, I check it anyway and also check it’s condition for damage or dangerous edges. This process takes seconds to complete but is focused. Water is changed daily to avoid contamination and to keep the water as fresh as possible. Clean the bowl first. Then replace the water. I throw the left over water onto the plants. Then comes cleaning the kennel floors and remove waste. I check the stools to make sure they are normal and don’t contain foreign objects like strange bones or plastic or blood. I check the urine too for the same things as well as discoloration. This process also takes only a few seconds to complete. I then prepare my dog’s meal and put the meal in the pen. All the while my dog lies on the place mat watching me.
After the kennel and pen are clean I command my dog to the heel position. Now at heel I do a quick reinforcement training session focusing on my dogs entire repertoire of learned commands. We run through these in about 1 minute. My dog performs these perfectly without hesitation. I then release my dog at which time my dog goes straight into the pen to eat the meal. As you can see this whole process is regimented. There are no surprises or opportunity for things to go wrong. My dog knows exactly what I’m doing and what comes next. Because of this regiment my dog is happy to co-operate with no need for me to say or do anything that will cause conflict. We have a perfect understanding.
Grooming is performed with the same regimented style. The only difference is my dog jumps up onto a table 2 feet off the ground and stands there while I groom my dog. It is here that my focus is not so much on how nice my dog is going to look but instead I focus on whether my dog has any injuries or soreness. You will immediately know when your dog has a joint or ligament because when you touch that area your dog will wrap his mouth over your hand. It is not a bite as there is very little pressure applied. It’s just a dog’s way of saying “Don’t touch me there, it hurts”. You need to know if your dog has an injury straight away. A high drive dog can easily do greater damage because of its incredible desire to get the job done – at all costs. So you need to be aware of your dog’s current physical state even if your dog blocks it out.
I put a treat in the pen when I’m done. Go through the entire repertoire of skills and release my dog. There is never any shouting or any conflict. Pure co-operation. This grooming process takes about 5 minutes.
So in total all of the dog chores are done in less than 10 minutes and I’ve managed to check my dog for injuries as well as sneak in two reinforcement training sessions and cemented my bond with my dog my doing things together without conflict.
In Summary – Undertake the chore process with a systematic approach. Stop seeing it as a chore and see it as valuable time spent with your K9 cementing co-operation and reinforcing the basics. Seize the opportunity to reinforce your dog’s skill set.
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