I’m sure every has seen the woman on social media who has wrapped her head in plastic wrap and put peanut butter on the wrap to occupy her dog while she cuts the dogs nails. This is NOT what I am recommending here!
I can think of a number of reasons why I don’t recommend that, the first of which is, it’s not a good idea to have your face right next to your dog’s teeth when you’re going to do something that may be uncomfortable, or even hurt if you slip! All dogs can bite, and many will do so if injured. So, save the plastic wrap for leftovers, and don’t put yourself in a dangerous position! Do hang onto that peanut butter, though, we’ll use it in just a bit. Now, let’s set ourselves up for safety and success when we do grooming tasks with our dogs!
First, let’s look at the easy way to accomplish many grooming tasks. My dog Merlin, a Rough Collie, is an example of a dog who really dislikes being groomed. Okay, he HATES being groomed. He really doesn’t like being touched much at all, including being petted. He is from a meth lab/puppy mill, and was neutered very young (not my choice!), so the quality of his coat is much like a wet, dirty, felted, sheep. And he only smells slightly better. We have worked on grooming skills since he was a pup, and he has made progress, but still really, really doesn’t like it. So, what do I do? I have no desire to fight with him and hold him down, it’s stressful for him, exhausting and unsuccessful for me. I’m too old to waste my time on that!
Enter “Merlin’s Magic Fish”. There are many different types of these mats, but this one happens to be a fish. I don’t remember the company name, I am getting no kickbacks, I just know I acquired it from Amazon. And it changed my life! Also Merlin’s. The fish is a blue, silicone mat, in the shape of a fish, with suction cups on one side, and grooves and bumps on the other. I stick the suction cups to the door of the dishwasher, put peanut butter (NO xylitol! Check the ingredients on your peanut butter!) or spray cheeze (you know, the orange stuff in the can!) on the fish. Merlin licks the fish, I groom the dog.
Why do I like this method? Because we don’t have a big fight. No drama involved. No strength needed. Because my dog doesn’t associate me with something bad, but does start to associate both me AND the grooming with something good. Because my dog has a choice. When he gets tired of having his hair tugged on, he stops licking, I stop grooming, we stand around for a minute, and he comes back to licking when he’s ready to do more grooming. Having a choice makes the animal less likely to panic or show aggressive behavior. He can say, “OW, stop for a minute!” without growling, snapping, or running away. Then he’s ready to try again, without any bad experiences. The amount of time I’m able to groom him/he’s able to tolerate grooming is longer just about every time. So we both win.
I definitely recommend this for grooming tasks with animals who don’t enjoy grooming. It’s a quick and dirty version of Chirag Patel’s “Bucket Game”, which I also recommend for training husbandry tasks, among other things. Try this, you can use a suction cup bathmat or soap holder, or just wipe the peanut butter on the dishwasher or refrigerator door, or on the wall of the shower. Have some fun, get some grooming done. Let me know your results!