About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesdays Tip #10 Kennel Shy Dogs

I have had a number of dogs come in over the years that are kennel shy.
For those who are not groomers, kennel shy is a dog that either refuses to come out of the kennel or growls, snaps, or viciously bites while the groomers tries to get them out of the kennel.

Once the dog is out of the kennel, nine times out of ten, they are just fine.
Some dogs just don't like to be cornered, and that is how they feel when someone steps in front of the only way out, they feel trapped.
When a dog feels trapped, their first instinct is to snap or bite.

I have heard of different ways that groomers get kennel shy dogs out of the kennel.
Some sounded like they only made things worse.
Like, keeping the dog muzzled, or throwing a towel over the dog and grabbing them with gloves, or using a catch pole to drag them out.

I personally don't like any of those methods.

I will say that we do have a catch pole.
It came with the business when I bought it.
I have used it over the years, but only on dogs that were extremely vicious about coming out of a kennel.
Even when using the catch pole, we use it like a stiff leash that keeps ours hands away from flying teeth.
If used correctly, a catch pole can be a safe, handy tool.
That being said, I still don't like to use it unless absolutely necessary.

I personally don't think that there is just one way to deal with these dogs.

I don't really remember having any kennel shy dogs in grooming school.
I remember my first bite, and a few other unbelievable things that happened in grooming school, but I don't remember ever going over the subject of kennel shy dogs.

The first job that I had after grooming school was at a Vet/Kennel/Grooming shop combination.
The kennel/grooming shops owner was the son of the Veterinarian, who's office was above us.
So every potential biter was tranquilized.
I  didn't deal with any kennel shy dogs there either.

My next job was to work at the shop that I would eventually buy.
That was my first experience with a catch pole.
I didn't like it.
I left that job because of being used and treated badly and went Mobile.
No kennel shy dogs there. :)

After Mobile didn't work out, I groomed in the back room of a pet shop.
I don't remember dealing with any kennel shy dogs then either.

The first really bad kennel shy dog that I do remember, from my early years, was shortly after I bought my shop.

The shop had been run into the ground, and hardly had any customers left, so I was taking everything that called.
One day I had a man bring in a Cocker Spaniel.
Now back when I stared grooming, the Cocker Spaniel was the Pitbull of the grooming world.
All groomers talked about how bad Cockers were, and I had groomed some nasty ones at the Vets.

This guy was fine when I took him from his owner.
He was fine when I put him in the cage.

When I went to get him out, he had backed himself into the corner of the cage and was showing teeth.
He was terrified.
I didn't want to use the catch pole.
I could talk him out.
I was going to do this no matter how long it took.

He was in a floor level kennel, so I got on the floor in front of the kennel and started to talk to the dog.
And talk.
And talk.
And talk.

I talked to that dog for about 10 minutes.
I watched him relax enough to lay down and come a little closer to me.
I talked to him while I slowly reached my hand in and let him smell it.
He didn't show his teeth anymore or growl.
I talked to him while I slowly began to pet him.

He let me pet him.

I still had that voice going off in my head.
"You idiot! What are you doing?"

 I ignored it.

I was able to reach my hand in further.

I was able to slip my fingers under the collar.

I was able to slowly and gently pull him towards me.


He had my whole wrist in his mouth.
1,2,3,chomps before he let me go.
I closed the kennel door with the dog still inside.

"I don't understand why he won't let you get him out of the cage, he lives in one in the basement," the owner said when we called him to pick up his dog.

The owner had to get him out when he came to pick the dog up.

What did I learn from that experience?

1. That I can be really stupid.
2. Not to ever let that happen again.

Here are some of the things that I do now.

If you did not know they were kennel shy till after they were in the kennel: 

 A little cage shy:
I show them their leash.
Some dogs will forget all about being scared if they think that you are putting their leash on to go home, and they will come right to you.
I bring them out quickly and really praise them for coming to me.

Growls and hides in the back of the cage:
I also show these dogs their leash.
If they still stay in the back of the kennel, I use the handle part of the leash to make a slip lead out of their leash and gently toss it over their head.
I talk to them the whole time.
As soon as the leash is around their neck, most of these types of dogs come right out.

Bites at you and the leash:
I still use their leash to toss over their head.
It may take a little longer because of them trying to bite the leash.
Once the leash is around their neck, I slowly and gently pull them towards me.
I use the leash to pull their head down and away from me so that I can reach behind their head to get my arm around their body without them biting me.

Lunges forward to bite, then hides in the back of the kennel, lunges, hides, lunges, hides...:
Again I will try to use their leash first.
I only try once or twice.
I don't want to get them too worked up.
Most of the time I can usually get them with their own leash.
If I can't, I will use the catch pole.

Safely using the catch pole:
When using the catch pole, I let the dog smell it first.
Then I gently rub it on the dogs chest as if I was petting them.
I talk to them the whole time.
I want them to know that it will not hurt them before I try to put it over their head.
I slowly work it over their head and tighten the loop just enough to bring them out of the kennel.
As they come out of the kennel, I slip on a soft leash and take off the catch pole.
I praise, praise, praise them.
Yes, my family thinks that I am crazy.

I have found that most dogs will stop biting and come forward out of the kennel as soon as you have the leash on.
It is just a matter of having the patience to get the leash on.
Getting upset only upsets the dog.
Walk away if you are getting impatient and upset.

It is amazing how sweet most of these dogs are once they are out of the kennel and don't feel cornered anymore.

Of course if I already know that a dog is kennel shy, I leave their leash and collar on.

I let the leash hang out of the front of the kennel, leaving enough leash for them to be able to move comfortably around the kennel.

If they do not have their own collar and leash, or if  their collar is too loose and they can slip out of it, I will use my own slip lead.

 I loop the handle in the lock so that the dog can not pull the leash all of the way into the kennel.

(Please excuse the rust on my kennels, I need to paint them again.)

If you use any kind of grate in the bottom of your kennels, do not leave collars on with tags that can get caught in the grate and choke the dog.

Sorry that I did not have any pictures of myself getting these dogs out of the kennels, but I have not had any kennel shy dogs that I don't already know about in a while.
I hope you could understand my explanations.
As for a picture of the catch pole, that is buried in my laundry room, I have not used it in so long.

Happy grooming, MFF

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