A Counter-Conditioning Protocol for Nail Trimming


1. Determine the placement of contact your canine can tolerate with out reacting fearfully or aggressively. Perhaps it’s her shoulder, maybe her elbow, or perhaps simply above her paw. She must be a bit of frightened, however not growl or attempt to transfer away. This is “below threshold” – the emotional state the place we would like her to stay for all this work. 

2. With your canine on leash, contact her briefly and gently on the spot the place she is barely under threshold – conscious of your contact and considerably involved, however not extremely involved. The instantaneous your canine notices your contact, begin feeding her bits of rooster, continuous. After a second or two, take away the contact and cease feeding the treats.

3. Keep repeating steps 1 and a pair of till touching your canine at that location for one to 2 seconds constantly causes your canine to take a look at you with a contented smile and a “Yay! Where’s my chicken?” expression. This is a conditioned emotional response (CER); your canine’s affiliation with the transient contact at that location is now optimistic as an alternative of unfavorable. Note: Feed the treats whether or not or not your canine shows the specified CER. The pleased CER is a product of this course of, however you don’t wait for it to occur every time.

4. Now improve the depth of the stimulus by rising the size of time you contact her at that very same location, a couple of seconds at a time, acquiring the specified CER at every new contact and proceed to feed all through the contact. Do a number of repetitions of two to 4 seconds, till you get constant “Yay!” seems, then a number of repetitions for 4 to eight seconds, then a number of 4 eight to 12 seconds, and many others., working for that constant CER at every new period of your contact.

5. When you’ll be able to contact your canine’s physique at that spot for any size of time together with her in “Yay” mode, start to extend the depth of stimulus once more, this time by rising the period of your contact, then the quantity of stress, earlier than transferring your hand to a brand new location very barely decrease than the spot you have been beforehand touching. I recommend beginning at your preliminary contact location and sliding your hand to the brand new spot, relatively than simply touching the brand new spot. Continue with repetitions till you get constant CERs on the new location.

6. Continue step by step working your method all the way down to your canine’s paw, an inch or two at a time, getting stable CERs at every spot earlier than you progress nearer to the paw.

7. As you’re employed your method down the leg, make sure you add period and stress at every step earlier than continuing; every is a separate step within the CC&D process.

8. When you’ll be able to contact, grasp, and put stress on the paw, add lifting the paw, very barely at first, then an increasing number of, as you obtain the specified CER with every improve in raise. Then repeat the method with every leg. The different legs in all probability received’t take as lengthy, however nonetheless, go slowly and make sure you obtain the pleased CER with every step.

9. Did you suppose we have been by no means going to get to the nail grinding half? We’re nearly there! Start the method over once more, this time with the nail grinder (or clipper) in hand. Show the device to your canine at a sub-threshold distance till you obtain constant CERs, then step by step transfer it nearer (CERs at every step!) till you’ll be able to contact the device to her nail. Gradually improve the period of the contact together with her nail, and feed her a deal with, repeatedly, till the looks of the nail trimmer elicits a “Yay!” response. Then counter-condition the sound of the grinder (or the clipper motion, by squeezing the clippers), beginning once more at a distance and step by step transferring nearer as you obtain constant CERs at every step.

10. Go by the entire contact sequence once more, this time with the trimming device in your hand, additionally touching her with the device, then once more whilst you activate the grinder or squeeze the clipper. Remember that you’re nonetheless feeding yummy treats and acquiring the specified CER all through the entire course of. When you’ll be able to maintain her paw and use the device proper subsequent to her nail with a contented response, grind or clip one nail, feed a number of treats, and cease. Do one nail a day till she’s pleased with that, then advance to 2 nails at a time, then three, till you’ll be able to grind or clip all her nails in a single session.

The extra advanced the stimulus, the extra profitable the canine’s avoidance or aggressive methods have been, and the extra intense the emotional response, the tougher it’s to change a habits. Take your time. Be affected person. Just a few extra weeks – or months – of lengthy nails isn’t the tip of the world, and the end result – a canine who willingly participates within the manicure process – is properly definitely worth the effort.

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