Guest Post: Eric Goebelbecker on Keeping a Dog Calm During Grooming

**This guest post was written by Eric of and Dog Spelled Forward Facebook Page

Dogs and humans have different ideas of what “well groomed” means. Humans tend to like a neat coat, well-trimmed nails, clean teeth, and a pleasant or at least non-offensive odor.

Dogs, well, just don’t really seem to care. Just as long at they are not too itchy, it’s all good. And as for odor, is there really such as thing as a “bad” odor when you’re a dog?

So when it comes time for grooming, it’s hardly a surprise when a dog resists the idea of holding still for what may be a long time, isn’t overwhelmed with joy at being placed in a tub, actively fights have his nails clipped, or nips at a comb or brush that is teasing out mats.

These are not natural activities for a dog, and if they are not introduced as a part of early socialization, many dogs will not enjoy them. The fact is, things that dogs do not experience when they are young puppies can be scary for them when they are older.

Forcing a dog to submit to these things is not a good idea either, as it can increase anxiety and may even lead to an aggressive response. Even if they do go along, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are enjoying themselves – many owners (and groomers, alas) are not familiar with the difference between calm and still.

Let’s look at the dictionary:

calm adjective (of a person, action, or manner) not showing or feeling nervousness, anger, or other emotions.

still adjective not moving or making a sound.

Big difference!

Buddha is calm when he is groomed. He enjoys it!

So how can we convince a dog that grooming is a good thing? How can we make sure that he is actually calm, and not just still?

The answer is counter-conditioning and desensitization (CC&DS.) CC&DS is a process where in we teach our dogs (but if you look around the ‘net you’ll see the process is often used with humans too) that something they find scary or unpleasant can actually be fun and rewarding. We do this by gradually pairing the unpleasant (or unknown) thing with something pleasant, such as food.

For example, let’s look at nail clipping. Many dogs find the process very unpleasant. As a matter of fact many dogs don’t even like having their feet handled at all, let alone held while their nails are clipped or ground. In this case “starting gradually” means starting out by gently handling a foot while giving your dog a treat.

Here’s one way to approach the problem.

  1. In a quiet place starting out gently touching your dog’s foot. Give him a very yummy treat. Repeat a few times. Move to step #2 when your dog is enjoying the process. These sessions are always very short. Maybe a minute or so.
  2. While your dog is lying down, handle the foot a little bit longer. Spread out his toes. Give him a yummy treat. When your dog seems to be enjoying this continue, but also start step #3 in parallel, but never at the same time.
  3. Take out your nail clippers or nail grinder. Show them to your dog. Put them away. Give your dog a treat.
  4. If you are using the grinder, turn it on before bringing it near your dog. Combine yummy treats with the sound it makes.
  5. Once your dog seems happy with having feet handled and seeing the clippers, introduce the clippers while handling the feet but do not clip yet. Be generous with treats while handling feet and display the clippers.
  6. If you are using clippers, starting making some noise with them while handling the feet, but still not clipping.
  7. Trying clipping a single nail. Give the dog a treat. Put the clippers away and call it quits. Many people stop at this step, or soon after – instead of making nail clipping an hour-long ordeal, they cut 2 or 3 at a time, and make it much less stressful event.

Each step may take days, maybe even a week or more. Move on to the next step when your dog is relaxed and calm with the one you are working on. Think of the proverbial tortoise: slow and steady wins the race.

This methodology works with any kind of handling. You can break down brushing, clipping hair, and even cleaning ears.

A while back Buddha needed to have medication applied to an infected eye. Needless to say, this is not a comfortable process. Watch his reaction to having cream put directly on his eye in this video.

If something like this can be done without force or fear, why can’t grooming be the same way?

Take it slow, make it rewarding, and never force the issue. Your dog will thank you for it!



Guest Post: How to BEAT the Summer HEAT

**This guest post was written (and photos taken) by Kelly of and Corgibutts on Facebook.

This summer is hot and humid. Yuck.

I am sure it is yucky for the pups in our lives as well. Especially corgis, with their über thick coats! Keeping them cool is so important, but can be tricky. So, without further ado.. here is my complete guide to keeping your four-legged friends cool this disgustingly, unbearably hot and humid summer! 😉

Avoid the Sun

My number 1 tip to beat the heat. Sun = hot, so we avoid it as much as possible. I try to keep our longer walks before 7am and after 7pm. And any fetch that is played is done so at least 7:30pm or later. At these times the sun is just rising and starting to set, which means less direct sun and more shady areas. We also choose naturally shadier areas to walk during sunnier parts of the day. This is great rule to have for humans too, since too much sun on your skin is BAD (it’s also bad on your dog’s skin, which I will discuss later).

Another great tip is to go walking in the rain! No umbrellas or rain gear needed! It feels good! And is kind of fun to get rained on 🙂


Humidity means that I will be drinking about a pitcher of brita every day, so I assume that Gibson will need an increase of water as well. Make sure your dog’s water bowl is always full of clean, cool water! And if you keep your dog in a cooler room during the day, keep a bowl in there as well. We only have wall AC units in 2 rooms, so we try to keep Gibson in one of them if it is super hot in the house. He gets a big bowl of water in there! I think he thinks it’s fun to have water in different rooms of the house 🙂

Have Fun with Water

When we can, I take Gibson places where he can take a dip. My parents have a pool, which is tons of fun for the pups to play in (make sure the pool owner is OK w/dogs swimming in their pool!). Gibson is still a little wary of swimming..but he’ll do it and seems happy afterwards! lol. I normally will just carry him in with me and then let go and he takes off for the stairs. Or else, I will just dunk him in to get him cooled off.

It is also a good idea, if you take your dog to parks or trails, to make sure that there is a lake or creek where you are going. We have a park near our house that has a small lake and river, so I know that if I take him for a walk there, he’ll have a spot to cool off if he gets over heated. Likewise, we avoid going to the dog park during the summer because it has no water source!

If you don’t have a pool or lake nearby, there are always kiddie pools! I think they should maybe rename them ‘doggy pools’ though 🙂 I think most people use them for their dogs nowadays!

Last resort for water fun, is just a good ol’ hose! I will hose Gibson down after walks if he seems really hot or pre-hose him off before the walk!

Frozen Treats

What’s better than a frozen treat in the summer? I think dogs think the same way! I don’t do this often, but Gibson loves getting doggie ice cream (click for recipe). Easy, yummy and healthy!

He’s not that into ice cubes (they normally end up melting on the floor), but that is a great idea as well, so I will throw one in his water bowl from time to time.

Hair Removal

As it gets hotter and hotter, Gibson sheds more and more. And more. Does it ever stop?? Look at how much fur is falling off his butt after a swim!

The undercoat has got to go when the weather warms up, so make sure to brush at least once a week! I’ve heard of people getting a ‘summer’ cut done to their corgis as well, but we have never done that. I’m guessing it could help though! One thing to remember though, NEVER EVER SHAVE YOUR DOG! Dogs have their fur for a reason, it’s to keep them warm in the winter AND cool in the summer! It protects them from the harmful sun and keeps the heat off of their skin. If they are shaved they could get sun burnt if you do not slather them w/sun screen. No fun for anyone involved! Plus their fur could grow back weird or not grow back in time for winter 😦 So, please. Don’t shave! 🙂

And Obviously….

Please don’t leave your dog in the car when you go to the store! Poor little babies can fry in there!

Lets keep our puppers nice and cool the rest of the summer!

**This guest post was written (and photos taken) by Kelly of and Corgibutts on Facebook.

University Certified Dogs?

beagle sniffingI learn so much on the way to work – just by reading the signs on cars and trucks! Today I was sitting at a stop light looking at a truck nearby. On the back end there was a picture of a golden retriever’s face in a circle that said “University Certified Canine Team.” I quickly wrote that down so I could remember it long enough to look it up and find out what that was. I know there are lots of trainers that train scent dogs for different reasons, mostly for tracking humans. In know there are clubs that get together to train dogs to track different animals and different scents, it’s called “nosework.” Now I know that there are scent dogs (beagles in particular) that are trained to smell – bed bugs! The National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association does the training. There are lots of pest control companies across the nation that use dogs trained to sniff out bed bugs. So …. if the occasion ever comes up in our homes we now know who to call. Dogs help us live a FULL LIFE too! There are many other ways that dogs contribute to our own health and we’ll talk more about how they do that in the future.


A New Image Representing a FULL LIFE

FL New Logo 4 13If you reach this blog through our website you probably noticed the blog features a logo at the top. We’ll be incorporating it into our packaging over the course of this coming year. A couple years of exploration and testing have gone into the decision to go forward and use this illustration on our products because we feel it conveys an image of a dog full of energy and health.

The jumping dog (over the name Full Life for Pets) represents the energy, enthusiasm, activity and the health of our pets during their life. There are some subtleties incorporated in the logo too. For instance, the “lighter” area in the middle of the curved band. Light represents energy. The flow of light comes from nature, in the form of the sun. In some of the new packaging, there will also be the illusion of the sun behind the dog, again to represent the energy and life of our pets. The light unifies the image and focuses us on the name. The dark edges of the band reflect the night to day to night flow of light, and passing of time.

We often associate our dogs with nature. They’re the ones that get us outside walking or engaging in games of fetch – or swimming or hiking with them. They introduce us to other pet lovers that we might not meet if we weren’t with our dogs. They delight us when we see them play in the snow or chase squirrels through fall leaves. They keep us company when we’re walking, running, biking, exploring.

To paraphrase author Louis Sabin, no matter how many or how few possessions we have, having a dog makes us rich. By giving our pets a full and healthy life they in turn, enrich our lives and we benefit by having a Full Life also! “Treat your dog to a Full Life,” by treating them with our healthy Full Life for Pets treats.

Tick Season!

Deer TickNow that that it’s warming up in most of the country (sorry about that Minnesota and Wisconsin, I’m sure it won’t be much longer before it quits snowing! J ) tick season is coming! We’ll get lots of fleas too but we all know to use our preferred flea preventions. Dealing with Ticks are another story! Getting a tick off your dog isn’t easy. Although there are all kinds of tick removal tools that work effectively, no matter how many we have at our house we never have them in our pocket when we need them! I have a note that a teacher posted some time ago that offers a simple, effective way to basically smother a tick and make them let go. Take a ball of cotton and soak it with liquid soap. Then hold it on the tick until it lets go. It will only take a couple minutes. I think I’ve read that Vaseline smothers them effectively too. Ticks dig their mouth pinchers into the warmth of the body of dogs and people and suck our blood until they’re full and fall off. It may take a couple hours for that to happen and in the mean time they can be infecting us and our pets with diseases like Lyme disease. The sooner you can get a tick off, the better. So, I’m off to grab the liquid soap and find a cotton ball – I’m sure a towel will work too!