Cooperative Care Program
COOPERATIVE CARE PROGRAM
ENCOURAGING YOUR DOG TO COOPERATE IN HIS OWN CARE
Care for our pets, including grooming and veterinary care, is such an important aspect of our pets’ lives. But grooming and veterinary visits can be stressful for many pets, as well as for their caregivers. More than a third of dog guardians and over half of cat guardians say their animals “hate” going to the vet, and thus they are less likely to visit their veterinarian.
Classical counter-conditioning, which involves pairing something the animal likes (usually food) with a fear inducing stimulus, has been used to change dogs’ emotional response towards veterinary and grooming care. But we can do more than that!
Utilizing the predictability of pattern games, cooperative care can become a fun and predictable routine for your dog. No surprises and no tricks! Most importantly, you can give your dog a voice in the process and thus cooperative care can truly become a two-way communication.
Conducted by Joy Neo ( Fear free certified trainer )
– Theory based (Understand what is Cooperative Care and Fear Free, different enrichment items, understand body language and recognize fear, anxiety and stress signals, share list of Fear Free certified vets/groomers and Q&A)
Cooperative care has become a hot buzz phrase in the dog training world. And that’s a really good thing!
Many owners and trainers are coming to recognize the value of training our dogs to be active partners in their physical care processes. Throughout their lifetimes, our dogs will need to have grooming and veterinary care. If you’re very, very lucky your dog will be naturally cooperative without any effort on your part.
For many dogs though, these procedures can cause unnecessary anxiety and stress. Our goal in training a cooperative approach is to give our dogs the emotional tools to handle necessary but possibly unpleasant procedures.
It’s very important for us to always remember, first and foremost, that when our dogs are resistant to procedures we are dealing with their automatic emotional responses.
We need to address and decrease their feelings of fear and anxiety before we can expect to make progress. How can we do this?
There are a variety of approaches that can be helpful. In particular, the use of consent signals is a good way to open up two way communication with your dog.
We can teach our dogs behaviors that can be used to indicate consent to continue or that withdraw consent. This approach requires us to put in some initial training effort, but then gives our dogs clear ways to tell us when they are feeling uncomfortable and need us to move back to an easier level of handling. By honoring their removal of consent we will build trust and increase the likelihood of future cooperation.