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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We were at the vet for Sasha's shots yesterday. She has been itching and the vet wanted her on her side so he could examine the skin on her belly. She struggled when we tried to pin her on the table. He commented that he rarely sees a puppy of her age behave the way she did and he emphasized the importance of handling and socializing her.

Sasha has a lot of drive. At 14 weeks and 30 lbs she can keep up with our 70 lb, adult Pit Bull. They play almost endlessly. Sasha has never been a cuddly puppy.

I groom her daily and feed her by hand. She doesn't puppy nip anymore. I take her on brief car rides and lots of leash walks. She meets new adults, teenagers and children every week. She'll start Puppy Kindergarten next week.

I'm a bit concerned by my vet's comments. Is there anything I can do so that she'll let the vet pin her for an exam?
 

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Yes, you can train her.

Start by getting her to sit still for a SHORT time while you brush or handle her, then give her a clear release word and reward. Do this when she's tired out. Work towards asking her to lie down for a massage and then lie on her side for a massage/groom/exam, increasing the time she stays still. It's not just about her learning to lie there, you want to teach her to relax too, so make it relaxing for her. Lavender oil for example, a drop on your thumb then massage into her ears, and so on. It's going to be harder for her if she's a busy pup but she can and should learn to allow you to do this with her.

It could be that she wasn't comfortable on the hard table too, so work on that too, having her lie still on a table from time to time. Always give her the release word so she knows 'ok, I'm done, NOW I can move'. You may want to put her on leash to work on this and don't let her just get up and run off to play.

It's a good thing for them to learn, so if you have to do anything like pull quills, clean ears or ice an injury, they're not upset by it. I've even been able to put the heating pad on a dog and go do something else and come back to take it off, all with them just chilling out.
 

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Much like you train sit, you can train a "play-dead" cue, and that would help with exams...assuming this is done on the floor, and not on a cold, elevated exam table.

Yes, you should condition your dog to being handled, but it's not uncommon for pups to not like being pinned. That's what the conditioning is for after all.
 

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Because I clip all my dogs myself, right from the start I get them used to lying on their sides, on their backs with their feet in the air so I can clip their bellies and under their armpits, standing still etc. for having their faces clipped. Some of them are harder to teach than others but with patience and treats, they all learn. It makes it so much easier to clip them or have them handled by the Vet. They all just stand to have their nails clipped or trimming their hair off the bottoms of their feet, between their toes, etc.

They may not be quite as relaxed at the Vets but it still helps as they are used to being handled everywhere on their bodies.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you from Sasha's mom in Alberta. :wave: This gives me something to work on. I like the idea of not just getting her to lay on her side, but of having relaxation as a goal.
 

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I don't find that to be unusual behavior. Too bad Muggsy's gone, I could have sent him in there without a muzzle. He'd love your dog after that!

I agree with Sasha's mom. Just train her to be relaxed while lying on her side and being handled.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Start by getting her to sit still for a SHORT time while you brush or handle her, then give her a clear release word and reward. Do this when she's tired out.
Just before bedtime last night I tried this. She and her big "brother" had romped outside and in with me for over an hour. They were chasing a laser pointer after dark. She should have been tired. I brought them in and we practiced some "sits" for a while. Then I tried to get her to lay down. I was using treats; she is very food motivated. She learned "lay down" instantly, however she is so frantic to get the treat in my hand that "relax" seems impossible. I waited for a moment after she laid down, saying "relax" over and over again, but even though she was laying, her mouth, tongue and tail were moving non-stop. Ideas? Thanks in advance.
 

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Just before bedtime last night I tried this. She and her big "brother" had romped outside and in with me for over an hour. They were chasing a laser pointer after dark. She should have been tired. I brought them in and we practiced some "sits" for a while. Then I tried to get her to lay down. I was using treats; she is very food motivated. She learned "lay down" instantly, however she is so frantic to get the treat in my hand that "relax" seems impossible. I waited for a moment after she laid down, saying "relax" over and over again, but even though she was laying, her mouth, tongue and tail were moving non-stop. Ideas? Thanks in advance.
Teaching a "relax" can be very useful. But for this, I think the best way may be to capture it. IOW you'll have to be patient and wait for the behaviour (the actual relax) to happen on it's own accord, then mark and reward. Repeat ad nauseum, and THEN try to get it on cue.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
... be patient and wait for the behaviour (the actual relax) to happen on it's own accord, then mark and reward.
Awesomeness! Thank you for your help. I'm working on it.
 

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Just before bedtime last night I tried this. She and her big "brother" had romped outside and in with me for over an hour. They were chasing a laser pointer after dark. She should have been tired. I brought them in and we practiced some "sits" for a while. Then I tried to get her to lay down. I was using treats; she is very food motivated. She learned "lay down" instantly, however she is so frantic to get the treat in my hand that "relax" seems impossible. I waited for a moment after she laid down, saying "relax" over and over again, but even though she was laying, her mouth, tongue and tail were moving non-stop. Ideas? Thanks in advance.
http://dogscouts.org/Protocol_for_relaxation.html
I like using a mat for relax. Once the dog understands go to mat, I don't click, because clicking makes for excitement.
I would be careful of laser chasing wtih a Border collie mix. In some dogs it leads to shadow chasing and other OCD behaviors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 · (Edited)
I like using a mat for relax.
If a goal is for Sasha to be able to relax at the vet clinic or for a groomer, would I then need to take the mat with us? I don't clicker train. I use commands, hand signals and treat rewards.

I would be careful of laser chasing wtih a Border collie mix. In some dogs it leads to shadow chasing and other OCD behaviors.
The laser pointer is actually my three-year-old Pit Bull's toy. He and I used to run together; I am injured so he chases the light to blow off energy. Most of the time Sasha watches, she simply isn't as fast and coordinated as Corky is. She's only 1/4 Border Collie; should I worry? They do spend a lot of time wrestling together; she can keep up with Corky in that department.
 

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If a goal is for Sasha to be able to relax at the vet clinic or for a groomer, would I then need to take the mat with us? I don't clicker train. I use commands, hand signals and treat rewards. .

Mats can be very portable. They can even be a towel or rug. If your dog really knows go to mat, I know people who "make do" with a kleenex.. Commands, hand signals and treat rewards tells me nothing about how you train.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
...tells me nothing about how you train.
I do not know what words to use to describe what I do because I'm not following a program. I don't have a clicker. When I have a task I want to work on with Sasha I read ideas and give them a try. So far, so good. Classes start next week.
 
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