Helping a Santa Monica Yorkie Get Over Her Fear of the Brush

By: David Codr

Published Date: April 1, 2018

For this Santa Monica dog training session we worked with Lilly, a 3 year-old Yorkie who gets jealous when her guardians kiss and hates the hair brush.

We started the session off by discussing Lilly’s daily life. I have found when a dog gets jealous its often because there isn’t much structure in place. That was certainly the case with Lilly; few rules, probably a bit under exercised and able to tell her guardians when to pet her. This combination can easily lead a dog into thinking they have the same authority as the humans it lives with. But if a dog sees you as a peer or equal, then listening to you becomes optional. That was certainly the case with Lilly.

I spent a lot of time showing the guardians how to flip the leader follower dynamic by petting Lilly at the right times so that it is associated with positive behaviors and motivates her to repeat them. This is a key part of positive dog training.

The more Lilly’s guardians act like leaders through their movements and interactions with her, the more she will respect them and stop protesting.

Next we went over some tips to help her feel more comfortable with her dog carrier as her guardians travel quite a bit and Lilly likes to bark and put up a bit of a fuss at inopportune times.

One of the secrets I have learned as one of Los Angeles’ dog behavior experts is to break activities down into small steps and help the dog practice them one at a time in the easiest possible scenario. This helps the dog gain confidence through familiarity and the less anxious your dog is, the better behaved it typically is.

Next up was Lilly’s fear of the hairbrush. Dog groomers are one the most frequently bitten careers as its a pretty invasive and stressful activity for the dog. I went over some tips to help Lilly feel more comfortable with her groomer then showed the humans how to help a dog stop fearing the brush by developing a Conditioned Emotional Response or CER.

The great thing about helping a dog get over a fear with a Conditioned Emotional Response is it stops the problem for good. Many people force a dog to hold still when brushing them out which only makes things worse. Being scared of a hairbrush is an easy dog behavior problem to fix. This is why reputable trainers only use completely force free dog training.

If the guardians practice the hairbrush CER exercise, a few times a day for a week, she should not only get over a fear of the brush, she will actually like it!

Now many of Lilly’s issues will be best remedied by the humans doing a number of little things that help flip the leader follower dynamic. To help them remember all the dog behavior tricks I shared with them in this in home dog training session, we shot a roadmap to success video.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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