Low-Stress Handling and Behavioral Health

How often have you seen dogs or cats that struggled when people tried to brush them or clip their nails? How many dogs and cats do you think are comfortable with having a veterinary physical exam?  A great many dogs and cats are intolerant, uncomfortable and afraid of such routine handling and some are so aggressive that handling is anything but routine. The net effects of resistance to handling are animals that are unnecessarily distressed, owners and pet professionals who are reluctant to handle the resistant pets and animals that can’t receive the best possible care.

There is really no excuse for this state of affairs.  Most animals can easily learn to be comfortable and relaxed when handled, but the majority either aren’t provided with these learning opportunities, or good training has been subsequently over-ridden by later aversive experiences.

In order for the majority of pets to be tolerant and comfortable with everyday handling,  all pet professionals – trainers, veterinarians, groomers or dog walkers  – should have the skills to handle and restrain the animals they work with without causing them unnecessary stress or distress.  Professionals can improve their skills through continuing education, books, and DVDs. 

When pet professionals use low-stress handling procedures they are demonstrating to clients how their pets should be handled at home as well.  Each handling event – from nail trims, to removing debris in the fur, to examining ears, teeth, and sensitive body parts – is a client education opportunity to demonstrate pet-friendly handling. 

Owners need specific instructions about to accustom their pets to being handled, so not only are their pets calm, but those handling them are not in danger.  There are so many ways that bad reactions to handling can be created – grabbing for the collar, prying open a dog’s mouth to remove a forbidden object, pinning the dog down, “tricking” a dog into coming followed by something unpleasant – that it’s important to give owners a selection of ways to do things right.

And that’s one of many topics we’ll be discussing in our July the 24th seminar in Denver –  “The Devil’s In the Details: Recognizing and Promoting Dog Behavioral Health” – sponsored by “Dogs of Course” . 

Have you ever stopped to consider what characteristics describe a behaviorally healthy dog?  What do owners need to do to have one?  And what are some of the many ways owners, and even professionals in a dog’s life, inadvertently create behavior patterns that cause problems?   The answer, and the devil, really is in the details.  Small but repeated interactions that create expectations for our dogs that certain behaviors from us and certain contexts are not to be trusted. 

We’ll begin our interactive day by setting the record straight about two hot button topics – dominance and punishment – and how misconceptions about these concepts can interfere with the development of healthy dog behaviors and good relationships between dogs and people.  The afternoon will be interactive – delving into those devilish interactional details – and working together to create training and behavior modification plans participants can take home and use with clients to prevent, and even overcome, many unhealthy behavior patterns and improve the quality of life for pets and their people. 

We’re thrilled to share the weekend with our friend and Dr. Patricia McConnell who’ll be speaking Saturday on dog-dog aggression.   We’ll also be presenting a bonus session on Saturday evening on how learning to write professional behavior reports can increase your credibility, professional connections and referrals.   Learn more about this special bonus Saturday evening session HERE  (free to Behavior Education Network members). 

Click HERE to register and take advantage of early bird pricing.

Come join us for an educational, fun weekend with a special on-your-own entertainment option Friday night that we guarantee is like nothing else you’ve ever attended.  You can hear us perform in the Pan Ramajay Festival concert at DU’s Lamont School of music Friday night.  You don’t want to miss it!

If you register for one or both days of the July seminar BY May 18th, we’ll let you attend our monthly Pro Member webinar available exclusively for Pro members of our BehaviorEducationNetwork.com.  May’s topic is Reactivity, Impulse Control and PTSD in Dogs:  Fiction, Fad or Fact.  Can’t attend live on May 19th?  No worries – we’ll give you 7 days to watch the recorded replay.  Email or fax us proof of registration and we’ll tell you how to access this webinar. 

Email:  Info@AnimalBehaviorAssociates.com  FAX 303-932-2298

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