In my years of teaching beginners, I’ve seen hundreds of dogs take advantage of a new students. Dogs pull. They squirm. They whine. They snarl. They nip. They bite. I’ve seen many students frustrated to the point of tears.
Then a miracle happens.
An instructor walks over to the pet and gently takes over for the student. The dog instantly turns into a perfect angel. The students’ jaw drops. A moment passes before the student exclaims, “How did that happen?!?” The answer is simple.
Dogs have keen senses that pick up on our energy and our confidence. Dogs have an uncanny ability to read body energy. They read us clearly even when we don’t think we are connecting to them. In the example above, the dog picked up on the instructor’s energy without a word having to be said.
Dogs are primarily nonverbal communicators. They have a language of their own. They are very clear in the messages that they give us. It is up to us to be able to interpret that language.
The #1 rule when working with pets is to remember the three C’s. As a professional you must remain: Calm, Cool, and Collected. In ALL circumstances. The second you step out of this energy mode, the dog pet will know it instantly.
Dogs are hardwired to think like dogs. They need a pack leader. If you do not exude the three C’s, dog language translates that to mean, “poor leader.” They will not follow you. They will not cooperate with you.
So how do you gain the upper edge on the situation? Simple. It all starts with your BREATHING.
I know it sounds far-fetched. It’s so elementary. We do it every day. We don’t even think about it. Breathing.
However, when you need to create a calm, cool, and collected energy, your breaths need to be deep and saturating. Simply breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose. Draw in the air and feel it fill your lungs. Now exhale slowly through your mouth. The most important part of deep breathing is to regulate your breaths. Three to four seconds in. Three to four seconds out.
Try it. You can feel the oxygen saturating your body.
Deep breathing can release stress and provide other noticeable health benefits. You will likely feel calmer after performing deep breathing exercises, and may trade feelings of anger or fear for a focused, relaxed state of mind. Most dogs will totally gravitate to this energy in a very positive way.
I firmly believe that 98% of all dog bites are preventable by reading the animal correctly and taking the appropriate precautions to protect yourself while gaining humane control over the pet. Your hands are your livelihood. You must take utmost care not to let your hands become injured.
Every pet is an individual with different physical and emotional characteristics. Some dogs receive clear directions and boundaries at home, making them very easy to work on in a professional setting. Other pets will not have the skills necessary to be well-mannered candidates in a professional grooming setting.
The personality quirks that you’ll experience while working professionally with pets will range from dogs that are perfect angels, to dogs that are mildly annoying, to dogs that could be potentially dangerous to work on for both the handler and to the pet itself.
Whenever working with pets it is always critical to remember the 3 Cs. As a professional you must remain calm, cool, and collected in all circumstances. And BREATHE.
Whenever you have a dog on a table or in your grooming facility, you must use humane, respectful, and consistent training messages. The more you can learn about dog psychology and combine it with actual experience, winning the control and the respect over the dogs will become second nature.
Always remember that dogs are primarily silent communicators. Excessive talking or giving of commands is not necessary to effectively communicate with them. Much of your control can come from maintaining the Three C’s – Always remain Calm, Cool, and Collected while working with any animal.
Any time you feel you are losing control of the three C’s, it’s time to step away from the grooming table and take a break. Breathe. Only when you can totally regain your composure is it time to step back and begin your work again.
What techniques do you use to stay calm, cool, and collected? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!