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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

I'm sure this is really common problem,

Her eyes are red from irritation and I took her to the vet and he said it's mild so as long as I keep her eyes clean it should go away on its own..

here's the thing..my puppy HATES it when I touch her face. even if I approach her face very slowly, and far from her eye (ex. her cheek), she will move away and squirm...I've tried holding her face but she will squirm like crazy and I don't want to force her...

I'm doing some positive reinforcement training by using the clicker so that everytime she lets me touch her face, I reward her, but I'm concerned this will take several weeks to show any change, and I need her eyes to be clean everyday!! How should I do it?? Right now, I can't clean anything, I can't even take the eye boogers out, let alone get a good few swipes under her eye to just dry them...

Please help!! I will continue with the positive reinforcement but I have a feeling it will be several weeks if not months before she lets me touch her eyes, even when she's almost passing out from sleepiness, she'll still struggle...

The other thing is she's REALLY TINy. Her face is so small I can cup the whole thing in my hand and cover her whole face with less of my hand. My other dog had a bigger head so it was way easier targeting the eye booger and picking it out, but her head is so small, and therefore everything is smaller and it's hard to get in there ...

Also, If you use damp, how do you dry the eyes after? Would leaving it damp lead to yeast growing on it?

I appreciate any help!
 

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Oh no! I was going to suggest that you try to do it gently when she's sleeping or dozy, but you already said she'll still struggle...
I don't think desensitizing will take weeks/months... is she very food oriented? For Soro I had to desensitize him to clippers after I cut his quick by accident. It took a day or two with high value treats.

Otherwise.. how was your vet able to examine her? Did you guys have to restrain her?

I don't think you need to dry the eyes after wiping it over with a damp cloth (not sopping wet). Also, when Soro had excessive eye boogers long ago, I wiped his eye-area with a saline solution (basically, water+salt) I think that'll help more than just plain water. Or at the very least, it wouldn't hurt her. Good luck :D
 

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Caeda gets "eye boogers", I noticed this early on. What we did was "lure" her with a treat....letting her nibble at it a little bit while I touched her face below her eyes. At first it was maximum one second, then about 5 seconds by the end of my first real "session" on it (maybe 3 minutes). Got her thinking...."oooh, hand touching face = treat". Later in the day I just showed her a treat, and reached towards her face. If she turned her head to mouth at me I'd pull my hand and the treat away. She would wait longer and longer to try to mouth, after about a day she let me touch, not long enough to get the "boogers" properly, but a great start. Spent maybe 5 minutes on this. Then tried a couple times later in the day. It progressed so that after about 2 days I could wipe the boogers without a treat obviously in hand (but I still treated afterwards). Now I can just walk up to her, wipe them away, no treat necessary, just a "good girl". Still gets mouthy occasionally if she is a hyper mood. I'm sure that by the end of day one, especially if she likes treats, you'll be doing fine. Maybe even just give her peanut butter to lick the whole time you wipe?
 

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You need to just be the boss here. She is a dog, and you are in charge. It is for her health that her eyes are cleaned, so it just has to be done, whether she likes it or not. Hold onto her chin hair, and hold your hand in place until she stops pulling and tugging. Most young puppies will cry too, because they don't like it, and want you to let go. Don't pull it, just hold it. When she is still, give her a treat and let go. After a few minutes of doing this a few times, she will stop fighting altogether. Then, hold her chin hair and use your other hand to wipe her eyes. If she starts to pull back or scream, stop going toward her eyes and just keep holding her chin til she stops, then go back to her eyes, never letting go of her chin hair. I find another thing that works is when you are going for her eyes while holding the chin hair is to come with your other hand from behind her head and slide down over the top of her eyes. Once she realizes you are just wiping her eyes, she will cooperate and it won't be an ordeal the next time. She may never "like" it, but it has to be done. This is how dogs are taught to hold still for having their heads scissored by groomers too..holding the chin hair. Dogs learn that it means stay still, and you can also "feel" them start to make a movement in this way before you poke an eye out with scissors. ;-) Good luck and just keep at it. Puppies just have to be taught proper manners, and it takes patience, and being the boss sometimes.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
This all makes very good sense, but the thing with Butters is that she's not very into food treats and such...even high value treats like Beef liver and peanut butter is not enough to entice her. She just won't eat it...

I did try doing it while she was on the verge of passing out, and it was far easier as she had less energy to put up a huge struggle, though it was still difficult. I tried the treat thing to 'lure her' in and she won't eat it, and then I tried holding her chin hair but when she started screaming I felt so horrible I let go...I don't want it to be a negative experience, and I tend to prefer positive reinforcement...

But I will keep trying both methods and hopefully something will work out.

It's really weird but she was totally cool with me brushing her hair and clipping nails from Day 1 with no positive reinforcement needed. I guess my hands are a little threatening for her tiny face :(
 

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This all makes very good sense, but the thing with Butters is that she's not very into food treats and such...even high value treats like Beef liver and peanut butter is not enough to entice her. She just won't eat it...

I did try doing it while she was on the verge of passing out, and it was far easier as she had less energy to put up a huge struggle, though it was still difficult. I tried the treat thing to 'lure her' in and she won't eat it, and then I tried holding her chin hair but when she started screaming I felt so horrible I let go...I don't want it to be a negative experience, and I tend to prefer positive reinforcement...

But I will keep trying both methods and hopefully something will work out.

It's really weird but she was totally cool with me brushing her hair and clipping nails from Day 1 with no positive reinforcement needed. I guess my hands are a little threatening for her tiny face :(
Maybe you should take her to a professional before you have a mess on your hands. ;-) She has you figured out, and if you aren't consistant, grooming and caring for her needs in this way is going to be a nightmare for everyone involved for the rest of her life. Best to nip it in the bud now. Puppies scream when you do something they don't like...if you aren't hurting them, and you hold strong, they will realize it and stop. But every time you stop doing what you are doing because she wiggles or screams, you are just reinforcing the bad behavior, making it more difficult for her to understand what you want, and makes each session stressful for her. If she is not interested in treats, that makes positive reinforcement very difficult at best.
 

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Semi-good news! Yesterday she was kind of tired, so I held her chin hair, and she did struggle quite a bit, but I was able to get a few good swipes on her eyes. She wasn't screaming, she was just pulling, so I think it's progress? I'm going to keep doing it, and offer her treats, pets, and lots of praise after, and maybe after some time she will eventually get better?

Any other suggestions besides treats and holding her chin?
 

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She still sounds like she doesn't really like it, but if her reactions are mild enough that you are still able to clean her face, I'd say throw a party afterwards (lots of PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE, and treats if she feels inclined to take them).

This could go two ways... You can keep trying on getting her used to you holding her chin hair, like even when you don't need to wipe her face just stroke it or grab it gently, just to get her used to it. Make it a positive thing.

Or, what Graco said: "But every time you stop doing what you are doing because she wiggles or screams, you are just reinforcing the bad behavior, making it more difficult for her to understand what you want, and makes each session stressful for her. If she is not interested in treats, that makes positive reinforcement very difficult at best."

I hope the fact that she didn't scream means she is getting better but at the same time just be careful that it doesn't go the other way ;)
 

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We always provide a treat after handling the dog. With the puppy some days I will just call her over, open her mouth, touch her paws and legs, etc basically anything you may need to do in the future. Then pup gets a nice treat. Same thing after brushing or baths, always provide a nice treat. We also did this with our sheltie who is older and when he had ticks on him he just lay there and let us pull them off. Not a struggle at all when we flipped him into his back and took the tweezers to those ticks. Then he got excited because he knew he was getting a treat....just an example of how this type of training can be very beneficial.
 

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When Tip, my shih tzu was a puppy she was a monster to groom. As a pup she had a hot temper when she wasn't getting her way. Now I'm of Gracco way of things with grooming. I am respectful of my pups & I want to give her the chance to learn to love it but if it must be done then it will get done, especially if it's a health issue. Tip never did learn to love it but when I was finished with the task, I would offer her the special prize that was her favorite. I tell you, for her grooming just ticked her off. But set her down outside so she could shake (that was her sign that it was done) & she would bounce like a rubber ball & bark, bark, BARK cause she knew her special treat was coming. For each of my dogs, they know grooming, bathing, nail trims, ear cleaning, eye care, fixing boo-boos whatever it is that there is going to be a goodie coming afterward. That's not always food. I have 2 dogs that don't care a fig about food. I have one that her treat is to get to go in the pool with us, two of my old dogs liked to run beside my 4-wheelers on the farm. My collie is totally different, all she wants is for me to get in the floor with her & let her lay on me or against me & pet her or hug on her. She could care less about anything food reward & she wouldn't pick up a toy if you gave it to her but for my affection she would do anything.

Figure out what your puppies favorite thing is & always see to it that she gets that after the 'project' was done. With pups, I make a big deal of when it's done & how good they've been. I have a friend that puts a touch of peanut butter on the tip of her pup's nose & while he's busy licking at that... she takes care of his eyes. That dab of peanut butter is good for both eyes being cleaned.
 
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