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She definitely doesn't like being brushed - Help?

January 12th, 2009, 08:39 AM
I have a Siberian Husky female aged 18 months old named Kaya who was given to me by an older couple last week, and so far everything is going wonderfully. You can tell there are a few problem areas already though (jumping up, bad manners at the door), nothing major, just little things I'd like tips on.

You can tell she hasn't been brushed much and she is shedding, like shedding uncontrollably ;) . I'm used to pet hair all over the place with my now passed Alaskan Malamute, but this is bad, so I introduced our pet brush to her, and she hates it. She is fine if I touch her with my hand everywhere, but as soon as the brush comes in contact with her she nips at me, and will try to take my hand away, and try and get loose. I can't say she bites, but her teeth are bared and she does not look happy. Anyone have tips on how to get her used to the brush? I know she is fairly new to us and the trust isn't there yet, this will take time, but while we are doing what we can in all other areas, does anyone have any tips on this brushing dilemma? Thanks!

January 12th, 2009, 10:19 AM
I'd approach it in a similar way to dogs who don't like getting their nails steps. Part of it might be the "feel" of the brush your it a comb/rake? Soft brush?

- try to do it when the dog is very calm/relaxed (I like it when they're sleepy/snoozing) :D

- show the dog the grooming tool. Let him look at it, sniff it. Place it on the floor and put a yummy treat on it for him to eat. Leave it at that the first day.

- day two: repeat above. This time stroke the dog from neck to back, as if you were grooming, while he inspects the tool. Try taking the tool and running it down his back spoke/bristle side UP so only really the handle and your hand are touching the dog. Have someone else give the dog lovins/treats while you are stroking the dog's back with the brush handle. Praise praise praise. Leave it at that.

- day three: repeat above. Try one or two very gentle strokes with the brush. Perhaps starting with a very soft bristle brush to get the dog used to the "pulling" sensation of a brush might be useful.

Generally, just gradually increase until the dog is more comfy. Always keep it calm, relaxed, if the dog starts to panic, let it go, leave it on a high note (like getting him to take a treat off the brush or from the hand holding the brush). I would start mainly around the shoulder/sides areas first, those seem to be the least sensitive. Gradually work your way up to including the lower back, hind legs, and bum. Gradually work up to "harder" grooming tools like rakes/de-shedders.

I ALWAYS present any grooming tool I'm going to use on a dog for their inspection first. It gives them a heads up, IMO, and lets them "resign " themselves to any pampering that follows.

January 12th, 2009, 12:00 PM
My lab girl never liked brushing either so I was going to offer some tips but Bendyfoot said it all. :D:D

January 12th, 2009, 12:47 PM
That is wonderful advice, thank you!! I just talked to her past owner, and she said she had a hard time brushing her too, said she never liked the brush, but she didn't know why. It would be nice to see the reason why she had an aversion to the brush though. Oh and it's a furminator brush I believe, so pretty heavy duty taking out the shedding coat. I showed her the brush, let her sniff it, take it in her mouth, etc, but didn't think of the treats and taking it 1 day at a time with baby steps, so I'm going to do that now.

January 12th, 2009, 12:51 PM
The furminator's a great tool, but it can definitely pull, and if the dog's coat hasn't been groomed much at all, you'd be better off with a comb/rake first just to detangle and get out any of the really loose fur, then have at 'er with the furminator.

I wouldn't let her take the tool in her mouth, however...if it's ok to do it while you're NOT brushing, what makes it NOT ok to do it WHILE you're brushing? Sends mixed messages. Sniffing is ok.

January 12th, 2009, 12:59 PM
Ok cool, I'll look for a rake tonight. As for taking it in her mouth, she sort of nibbled at it wanting to see what it was made of, but she didn't carry it around in her mouth either, she's super at not chewing and/or taking anything but her toys in her mouth thankfully.

January 12th, 2009, 03:05 PM
Oh, ok, if it's really just checking it out with the mouth, and not an attempt to run off with it,:D then I wouldn't worry about it.

:thumbs up

January 12th, 2009, 04:40 PM
LOL Yeah she's still pretty scared of it, there's no way she'd take off with it!

January 12th, 2009, 07:34 PM
This really shouldn't take days to accomplish. This is about her lack of trust that you won't hurt her. I don't mean to imply anything harsh but if she totally trusted you then you could touch her body with anything you wanted to because she trusts you won't hurt her.

She has also learned from past experiences that if she fusses when you brush her then she doesn't have to be brushed - it has become a game of wills. Think of a little girl with long hair who fusses every time mum tries to brush her. She does it because it stops mum from brushing her hair and she wins! Yes, hair brushing can be uncomfortable at times but you aren't going to hurt her and it needs to be done so she needs to learn to settle in and let it happen. It can actually feel great when the energy is right.

Have her on the leash and work some drills with her - sit/stay, down/stay, - get her mind focused on listening to you. Then put her into a sit/stay and gently run a soft brush down her back. Praise the heck out of her when she is good. However if she wriggles away then correct her for breaking the stay - you don't have to be harsh. Then gently work the soft brush on top of her head and down her neck, then down her sides - if she is being good then tell give her soft, warm praise. If she fusses then say 'quit' in a firm, abrupt tone as you give her a slight correction with the leash (like a tap on the shoulder) and start again.

If she is a huge twit then go back a step and stroke her firmly in the place you want to brush her. Stroke her, brush her, stroke her, stroke her, brush her. Intermix stroking with the brush and it will be easier for her to accept the brush.

The key here is to reach a point of progress, brush her for a few more seconds and then take a break. End on success. Too many people have let her get away with the behavior and ended on failure so that is exactly where she starts up again - at failure.

I can't tell you how many clients have insisted their dog can't be brushed or have their nails clipped and within seconds we are running a brush through their coat and trimming nails with no fuss. Because it is really not about the brush it is about the behavior. It is very doable I promise.

January 12th, 2009, 07:37 PM
And what happens if a dog gets angry enough to take a nip at your face :shrug:?

January 12th, 2009, 07:54 PM
I agree that one shouldn't let a dog walk all over you, but if a dog is frightened by a particular object or by an action that perhaps was painful for them in the past, why on earth would you want to make that experience even more scary for them??:shrug:

I'd much rather take things slowly and keep the experience pleasant as possible...why turn it into a battle? What's the big rush? So what if it takes a few days? :confused:

January 12th, 2009, 08:03 PM
I agree Bendy. It took Lucky over a month to feel comfortable enough to allow me to brush him. Now, when I take it out, he rubs up to me like a kitty and never wants me to stop.

January 12th, 2009, 08:46 PM
By no means should this be a battle.

I wonder if she is indeed scared of the brush - I think she just sees it as unpleasant and is willing to challenge her person to get out of being brushed. Make it pleasant and she has nothing to be upset about. But right now her immediate reaction is to argue - she needs to learn that you are never going to hurt her and she needs to trust you.

But the more you act as if the brush is some monster by putting tenitive energy around it the more she will believe she has something to worry about. It's like when you were a child and your mother was going to trim your nails. Typically a mom might hold your hand firmly and prepare your fingernail and focus really intensly on it before she snipped it. There is a lot of tense energy and it makes kids nervous to have their nails done. But if she gently held your hand and calmly massaged it just as she was about to snip you would remain more relaxed. If however you flinched and tried to get away and she let you then you would never get to experience the event and learn that your mother isn't going to hurt you. Instead she gave you calm, clear guidance and YOU TRUSTED HER, then you would relax and let her do it. Learning that your mother won't hurt you and you get a great hand massage along the way.

January 13th, 2009, 10:00 AM
Sorry, I forgot to mention that some dogs and cats get an electric shock from brushes and combs. As you brush through their coat it can set off little sparks of electricity just like lifting a sheet up quickly in the dark you see little sparks. This can be what upsets them - so dampen your brush/comb before you use it and that should reduce the problem.

January 14th, 2009, 10:58 AM
what kind of brush are you using? I would recommend a comb and a slicker brush for your dogs coat. Start off my brushing under the chin or a place she usually likes to be stroked, use the slicker brush first and the comb after. Be consistent and try a little bit everyday ur dog will soon get used to it i am sure :thumbs up

January 14th, 2009, 11:43 AM
I'm using a Furminator brush, to get her shedding off, it's the only brush I had, but it is a heavy duty brush and not something light. I didn't get the chance to go to the store to get her a comb yet, but will in the next few days. More on my progress below, but there is something I want to bring up first.

Since we got her last Saturday we have learned some pretty interesting things about her that's for sure. Her biggest "issue" is this exactly, it's a game of wills (you hit the nail right on the head Tenderfoot). Right now she bucks big time when we get a hold of her collar, either to tie her up outside or to brush, or to get her off the couch for example, when the Off word is said and she doesn't do it herself. When we get a hold of her collar she will stiffen up, bare her teeth and try to nip you. When this happens I give her a shake or tap on the shoulder and say NO, quit it! She'll try a few more times and sometimes will go as far as saying NO harshly and holding her collar, then she decides to comply and will usually fall on her back. By then she is calmer, I'll tell her sit and she will do so willingly, and then I praise her. The thing is my husband had an issue with her yesterday where she was on the couch and he said Off. She jumped off and he went to praise her, but she bucked instantly and actually nipped him good on the hand. It's like she is a teenager who doesn't like being told what to do, and since she doesn't know us thinks she can get away with anything. I called her past owners to talk about this and try and get some information on this kind of behavior from them. They said she would get excited and run around everywhere in the house and when they tried to grab her she would nip like that, so they would tie her to the door until she calmed down. To me this is saying the behavior wasn't dealt with, only ignored or put aside, and she never learned to do the right thing from the start.

I'm wondering what you suggest to do with this kind of behavior. She's strong willed but is also willing to please, she will lay on her back willingly when petting her and when we show her we are the Alpa here, not her (in a humane way of course). She's not very used to kids and is rough so I always watch her with the kids, and am teaching the kids how to behave the riht way with a dog. She has the potential of being an awesome dog, but we have to deal with these issues right now rather than later. She also likes to be the center of attention all the time. Knowing this, what do you suggest the right course of action would be?

As for brushing, she is learning to trust me, and is doing better. I did what you have suggested, and I take about 15-20 minutes a day to brush her outside. She still bucks of course, and sometimes tries to nip me, but I give her a shake on the collar/shoulder and say NO, quit it. It's better than yesterday, and yesterday was better than the day before. We need to deal with the collar issue though, which worries my husband.

January 14th, 2009, 07:07 PM
You have a girl gone wild! It is as though you brought home a teenager who never heard the word 'no' and is screaming at you "YOU ARE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!!!!"

Guess what - you are!

The very best thing you can do right now is put her on the leash attached to an adult and lock it to your side. She has not learned to give to the pressure of the leash/collar and she is too ready to challenge you with her teeth. You need to be very careful with your kids until she gets her snarky attitude in check. Here is a snipet of info to get you started - it is going to be published in the next issue of American Dog Magazine...

Most people try to keep their dog beside them with a tight leash, but in order for your dog to choose good behavior the leash must be loose. A tight leash is controlling and does not allow the brain to make choices. You need to teach your dog to give to pressure not fight against it, and to create her own loose leash.
o Put on a 1” flat, wide collar for comfort (skinny collars can damage their trachea).
o Use a 4’-6’ flat leash in the beginning.
o Stand still like an oak tree.
o Lock your leash hand down to your body – a thumb in your pants pocket works well.
Each time she moves to the end of the leash she hits a stopping point of pressure. Don’t move an inch! The only way to release the pressure is for the dog to lean or step towards you - giving to the pressure. If your hand moves towards the dog then you taught the dog leaning into pressure allows her to go forward. When she steps or leans back creating a loose leash give her lots of warm, soft praise. Do this drill in 5-10 different places and then start tossing toys & treats outside of your circle, teaching your dog impulse control – she will learn not to lunge at things.

This is the beginning of teaching her not to buck against the leash. It also gives you immediate control to stop her from lunging at your face. You do not have to be harsh to get your message across to her but there are going to be a few times when you need to back her off and the leash will be the best tool.

Too many people are taught to turn away when a dog jumps at them or to cry out like another puppy - this often empowers your dog not you. This dog needs you to create a personal boundary around yourself and defend it by walking into her space and using your leash to keep her out of your space. You can stomp towards her with your feet as you say "off" but you need to see a softening in her energy to know that you have gotten your message across. She shouldn't go into a super submissive state and fall onto her back -- that is too much drama on her part and your correction should not be intense enough to warrant that response. But snapping at you is out of the question and you do need to make your message clear. You call the shots and she needs to listen. Using her teeth against you is her way of forcing you to do her will.

Many people don't like the idea of correcting a dog for such bad manners. They would encourage you to treat her to get her off the couch so she doesn't feel the need to snap. That's fine and it can create a positive energy to encourage her to get off the couch, but it doesn't teach her not to snap at you. It is not okay for her to even think she can use her teeth on you to get you to back off.

So the leash needs to be attached to you for as much time as you can stand it. A 1/2 hr a day won't do it. You need to get her out of 'recess' which is time for her to do as she pleases and lead her own way. This wild child needs to go to school and you are her teacher. The more time spent with you as the leader and she as a follower the better.

There are so many things we need to share with you to help. I dont like to push it but I know the articles on our web site would be helpful and even the DVD if you desired. This is a challenging dog and, especially since there are children involved, the faster you get her attitude adjusted the better.

January 14th, 2009, 07:35 PM
Please, the more you push the better, I am learning so much with this kind of behavior and what I need to do to correct it. I was just thinking earlier about my kids, and what I do to curb and stop their bad behavior. I attach them to my hip so to speak, they do not leave my side until I know I have their heart and I know they will listen. This can take days, or weeks, it's up to them. I teach them the right way of dealing with a situation, and having a happy heart about it. Basically with a dog you do the same thing, with a leash they are there with you and you nip the bad bahovior in the bud, correct?

She is being a teenager and thinks she can get away with it, but DH and I are more than willing to challenge her and teach her what is right and what is wrong. Starting tomorrow I'll do as you suggested and have her on the leash, this will also help with the kids who like to play with her, yet aren't experienced with rowdy young dogs who don't know better (my old Alaskan Malamute was a big warm butterball who liked nothing better than to cuddle with my daughter). She's never lunged at my face, only nips at the hand that holds the collar (but that is enough already and passing her limit!). I've been practicing grabbing her collar all day and seeing her reaction, and a few times she got put on the ground with a loud noooo, she was being very defiant. As soon as she is doing better and has a good disposition she gets praise.

She IS a drama queen, my God it's like as if I'm dealing with my sister, LOL! But seriously, I am not scared of her and she is starting to know it, but it'll take much more than this. The thing is I'm not sure what to do after I've tied her to me, and she has gotten used to it, how do I know she is ready and able to act accordingly and with no defiance? I think she is so used to getting her way and thinking; If I lay down on my back then they'll leave me alone, she will do this when we are petting her (when told lay-down she will and then roll on her back, if I correct her instantly she will lay on her back). My correction isn't too strong that she cowers and lays still, she doesn't look scared, just acting like; ok ok I'm submissive for now, you happy? No flat ears, not straight body, just floppy and a let's get this over with attitude.

One good thing is that we have not backed off once with her if she nipped, she got corrected every time. We were so blessed with our old Malamute and her amazing good manners even though she was over 2 yrs old when we got her, this is a whole 'nother ballgame and we are prepared to deal with this, just need some pointers and direction!

I'll be looking more at your articles for sure, and I assume I can find info on ordering no your site (shipping, method of payment etc)? Do you have a particular specific DVD for this type of behavior?

January 14th, 2009, 07:50 PM
Ok, so from what you've described, the brushing is NOT a fear issue, it's as tenderfoot says, it's a "I don't wanna and you can't make me" issue. Yup, you've got a brat, and it's going to have to be nipped in the bud if you want to live happily and harmoniously with this dog. (FWIW, we had one of those "types" too, and it was a heck of a lot of work, but the end result is well worth the effort...when we first got her we would "fight" over a "down/stay" for litterally HOURS...her saying "screw you" and us putting her back in position, over and over and over. She'd snap if you went near her food or a toy. She'd just sit there and stare at you and bark in your face. She finally acknowledged that we meant it and then we had a different dog, but boy was she stubborn!!! The stubbornness was really a sign of her incredible intelligence, she is not one to just obey mindlessly, she weighs her options, lol...we can't give her an inch!).

The umbellical technique described helps a lot. You wondered what to "look" for in terms of a measure of success. You want a dog who watches you for leadership, constantly. She'll have one ear or one eye on you at all times, will respond immediately to your movements and will move in turn, will not get underfoot, will not try to get up on furniture. You'll be able to move her/stop bad behaviour with your voice and not the leash anymore.

NILF (nothing in life for free) is something else you'll want to look up. Basically it means no toys, no pats, no attention, no food, no walks, no NOTHING unless and until the dog works for it in some way (most often obedience command).

This pup should lose all furniture priviledges until she learns who's boss. No more being on the couch, bed, etc. Having her tied to you will help you keep her off things she shouldn't be on and will also give you an extention to her collar that will help you move her without putting your hand near the pointy teefies.

January 14th, 2009, 08:02 PM
Awesome, so this gives me a great idea on what to look for, and boy we will be working hard, LOL. What about at night, she was never crate trained and we've had her in the livingroom since she came, and apart from her sleeping on the couch, is amazingly good at not touching anything else/chewing anything, etc. We put a gate in the hallway because the kids sleep with the door open, and my daughter has a pet rat Kaya seems mightily interested in ;) . I don't want her to go wake up the kids either (she loves attention too much and will go wake them up I'm sure). Besides, I don't trust her right now with the kids alone.

It's not just the moody teenager routine either, she has not been socialized with other dogs, it is a challenge having her meet and greet other dogs, but we'll be working on that later.

Oh yes and she is NEVER allowed on my bed and she tries to sneak couch time but we always tell her off WHEN we are around, we're the boss around here and she is not going to think we are equals, like I said at night she will go sleep on the couch though (I've caught her a few times), not sure what to do about that.

January 14th, 2009, 08:12 PM
Try tinfoil or a bunch of pots and pans on the couch, or even a ScatMat.

I have to congratulate you for acknowleging the issues and being ready and willing to tackle them head-on...with that kind of attitude, it's easy to see who's going to "win" this battle of wills!:laughing::thumbs up

January 14th, 2009, 08:14 PM
Thanks! It's really, really nice to get concrete examples and ways to deal with this instead of trying to find some information online and not knowing where to look exactly.

Pots and pans would definitely work, LOL!

January 14th, 2009, 08:25 PM
We offer one DVD set (2-DVD's) that is almost 3 hours long. It covers everything you need to get you from start to finish. The message is that if your dog learns to look to you for the answers then you won't have any problems. Done!

There are relationship drills that you do first to establish leadership, and gets her to start thinking about her behavior and choosing good manners out of love, trust and respect. Just like all relationships in your life - they are equal parts of the puzzle and if one is lacking the relationship will suffer.

Then there are tons of skills (sit, down, stay, off, etc...) and heeling and distraction work. This DVD has it all (if I do say so myself :rolleyes:) and all without the use of devices or being treat based. It is very natural communication that your pup will understand very quickly - this is really about the people learning how to communicate clearly and effectively so the dog can step up and get some manners.

January 14th, 2009, 09:26 PM
My Mindy doesn't like being brushed either. She was 8 months when we got her and I was a wuss about making her stand still for it. She doesn't need a lot of grooming anyway. It takes two of us to cut her nails (dh to hold and me to cut) and she's only 18 pounds!

I am sensitizing Maz to being brushed right away. Unfortunately I thought it would be a good thing to let him sniff the brush. Like everything else in his world he thinks it's a chew toy! So I am teaching him to "leave it". I also cut his nails the first day he was home and try to give them a teeny trim weekly so it doesn't have to be a huge production with him

January 15th, 2009, 06:31 AM
Mindysmom, yeah I think I'm going to wait a little while before cutting her nails, just so she can learn to trust me with the leash and the brushing first. What kind of dog is Mindy and Max?

She's attached to my hip this morning, and she was not happy, she was whining and trying to get away. I've done 10 min of standing still and waiting for her to give towards me for a loose leash, and will be doing the treats/toys outside of her circle later on. Right now she is laying beside me, as if resigned for now. With young kids it's difficult because they want to join in/have mom's attention too, so I'm wondering how I'm going to share the time between them. I wouldn't want the kids to resent the dog, or am I being too sensitive here? What is a normal time limit per drill usually?

Is it Elizabeth, or Doug? I have one more question about the video. I'm very interested in the DVD, and I am positive it would definitely help, do you ship first class international to Canada? I buy a lot from the US (ARE you in the US?), and FC is the cheapest and fastest, more so than Priority or Fedex/UPS (those two add fees out the wazoo in order to be able to receive it in my home, blerch). And thank you for your answers, if you've got more tips to share please do so, in the meantime I am off to peruse the forum for more.

ETA: Treats thrown, toys too out of the circle, straining to get them, scratching on the floor, then loose leash and looks at me for direction. Praise, and then testing again. Thing is she will get a loose leash after seeing she can't get anywhere, but will whine loudly and constantly, will not bark. She's a Sibe so she doesn't bark much anyways, I don't think I ever heard her bark. Do we train for whining too, or let that go and concentrate on the loose leash?

January 15th, 2009, 09:54 AM
We do ship 1st class.

The kids need to understand that the dog is part of the family and right now you need to work with the dog to get her behavior better and they need to be patient - great lesson for the kids too.

The dog is complaining because she is not getting what she wants for the first time in her life and that is frustrating. I would much rather she whine right now than pull on the leash. Over the next day or 2 the whining should subside or you can choose to correct that with a startle of some kind. The second she whines you slap your leg and stomp your foot at the same time to create a startle, which gets her to stop whining and look at you. Remember 3-5 times and she should slow way down on the whining. She just has to learn that everything isn't about her and what she wants and she will settle in just fine.

January 15th, 2009, 08:36 PM
ClothCanoeMom - Both Mindy and Max are Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Mindy doesn't have as thick a coat as some I've seen and needs only minimal grooming. It's too early to tell for Max as he is only four months old but I am trying to brush him for a short bit every day.

Mindy is not too bad except for her tail and her butt area but I want to start out on the right track with Max and not have it be a struggle.