Our Shaped by Dog podcast is designed to be heard or viewed. If you are able, we encourage you to listen to the audio or watch the video, as each includes nuances of emotion and emphasis that might not come through on the written word. Transcripts are generated from the audio, then humans review with love and care, and then there's a double check by our dogs. If you are quoting in print, please check the audio first for full context. Thank you!
SG Susan Garrett
SG How would you answer this question: My dog really doesn't like it when I do blank to him, or my dog
really doesn't like it when I do blank. What is it that your dog really doesn't like and what are you doing
about it? Hi, I'm Susan Garrett. Welcome to Shaped by Dog. Today we're going to go over a fix for all
of the things that your dog doesn't like when it happens.
Now of course there may be extreme fears that we're not going to be able to fix today. But there's a lot
of things, you’ll be surprised. How did you answer that question? That's a question I asked on
Facebook last week. I had over 350 people put all kinds of responses. A lot of them were very much
the same. And they came down to sensations.
“My dog doesn't like it when he sees me sweeping the floor.” So, its sight. Sweeping the floor,
shoveling the snow, raking the leaves. That could also involve a sound or emotion because if you're
shoveling the throwing of the snow might be the trigger. We've talked about triggers here on Shaped by
Dogs before. The sight of the leaves, the sound of the rake.
So, the dog may not like the sight, the sound, the feel, the smell, or even the sensation. So, there are
people who say, “my dog doesn't like it when I groom him or when I put eye drops in his eyes or I clean
his ears” or “my dog really doesn't like when I ask him to go out and potty in the rain or on wet grass” or
“my dog doesn't like it when I have to give him a pill or take him to the Veterinarian's or put on a coat or
boots or sweater”.
Some of you who do sports then there may be sports specific things that “my dog doesn't like the seesaw, or the end of the run”. What is it that your dog doesn't like? And gosh darn it, let's fix it!
Because what your dog is showing you is a CER. Now I talked about CER's in podcast episode
number 107 when I was sharing with you a great way to teach your dog to love to have their nails
trimmed. A CER is a Conditioned Emotional Response.
So, dogs can, as I mentioned in podcast episode number 130 when I was talking about conditioned
responses, dogs could be conditioned to go “Wow. I love that.” Like when they see the site of a leash
or the car keys they're conditioned to go, “Oh, I like that.” The keys to the car create a positive CER, a
positive conditioned emotional response.
The dog's emotions are like, “Yeah, we're going for car ride.” But there also could be things that create
a negative conditioned emotional response. So, you pick up the grooming kit or you open the drawer
that the eye drops are housed in and the dog starts licking their lips and slinking away. Your dog’s
sharing their feelings about what's about to happen. And you know, I've had people say, “Well, guess
what? I feed you. I buy you nice things. I can do what I want to you.”
Now that's not a great way to have a relationship. I hope there is no one else in your life that you have
that thought with. “I feed you. I buy you nice things. I can do what I want to you.”
Really, that's just not cool. And I personally think that if there's any animal that you feel that way about
that it's going to have an impact on other relationships you have in your life.
Potentially if you are a leader at work and you have people who you deem as below you and you may
not feed them, you may not buy them nice things, but you have power and therefore they must submit
to you. In an era of our life which is I think a pretty grand era to be in, other than the obvious pandemic
thing, an era where the consciousness of the world is awakening to being kinder to people.
Maybe other than that pandemic thing. As a generation, as a community in the world, we are
awakening to being kinder to children and parenting more positively.
And the same goes for all relationships.
So, when our dog says, “Yeah, I don't, I, I don't like, I don't like what you're thinking of doing right now.”
then that's an opportunity for us to say, “I can be a better trainer for you.” “I can turn this around.” “I can
listen to Susan Garrett’s Shaped by Dog podcasts, and I can figure out how to turn a negative
emotional response into a positive emotional response at the very, very least.”
What we can do is turn it into a meaningless one. Meaning there is no emotional response. It's not
good, it's not bad. It's like when the vacuum is turned on around here. To most of my dogs it's
Swagger, he gets excited, little excited. He starts barking and bouncing up and down with a toy in his
Nothing like some of my past dogs were, but there are a lot of dogs that their dog owners who
answered this question on social media, anything electronic.
It started with the vacuum, it transferred to the hairdryer and the blender and anything that's electronic
that makes a noise.
Maybe has an action. Remember some of these triggers are sights, sounds, smells, sensation, like
some dogs who don't like going in the car it could be a vibration, it could be the stimulus of the
environment going by and there's so many things.
But what we have to do is first of all is try to take your big behavior of ‘what is it your dog doesn't like?’
Getting a pill? I don't know, getting their teeth brushed? And let's break it down into, ‘is it the sight, the
smell, is it the sensation? Is it you restraining them?’ A lot of dogs don't like being held.
And guess what, if your dog goes to a Veterinarian, very good chance they're going to be restrained.
So that's another thing to put on your training list.
Just for fun. Let's teach our dog to accept being held for a procedure. There's a story, it’s a true story.
Back when I was in university, I heard about a Drill at the San Diego Zoo and his name was Loon. And
Loon was diabetic, but it wasn't the kind of genetic. His diabetes was something that wasn't passed on
to his offspring. And he was a kind of Drill that was on the endangered species list.
The problem was he was diabetic and every day they had to give them insulin and they had to take
blood from him.
And so, they went about it the way unfortunately, a lot of people go about things with their dogs. They
say, “I feed you. I buy you nice things. I can do whatever I want to you.” And so, they used a press to
press them into a corner and forcefully take whatever they wanted.
And these Drills they're pretty … I don't mean like a *drill sound* drill, I mean like a *monkey sound*
Drill, right? … they're strong animals. And when you get an animal angry, they get even stronger.
And eventually it was becoming dangerous for people to use a crowd gate to try and corner him to do
these procedures on him. And lo and behold, they decided to use what I spoke about in episode 106,
consent. They got Loon to play along. “Hey, it's not a big deal.” They cut a hole in his cage. They
welded a sleeve to the hole and with a peg on the end of the sleeve.
And so, what they taught Loon to do was to reach, put his hand in the sleeve and grab the peg. Guess
what that did? It made his vein pop up. And so, they shaped him, gradually conditioned him to be okay
with the prick of the needle.
They gradually conditioned him to be okay with them drawing blood and lo and behold it became
something that instead of being a negative conditioned emotional response, it was a positive one.
“Oh, I get to give blood.” And because it meant something positive for Loon. And so that's what we're
going to do with your dogs. And so, the first thing that you need to do, you might not always be able to
do this, but you need to try to isolate what it is that has the dog worried.
Is it the smell, maybe it's some lotion that you're opening up? Is it the sight? Is it the sensation? Is it
So, you're going to look at all of the behaviors your dog doesn't like and say what is the one that is
lowering his quality of life the most. And or what is the one that makes it the most difficult for us to live
in the same environment?
Because we want the dog to have a great life, but we want you to have a great life too. So, prioritize
the behaviors because your dog may have more than one of these that you have to start to work on.
And when I say work, guys it's going to be fun. You're just looking for opportunities to create good
experiences for your dog.
So, what you're going to do is you're going to isolate let’s say it's the eyedrops. I have to give my dog
these eyedrops. It's super important but you know it takes three of us and we have to hold him down
and he fights, and he screams.
So, the first thing we're going to do is we're going to create a CER to where you're holding these
eyedrops. So, if it's a certain drawer I would actually move it. It'd be easier than trying to reprogram an
old one. Let's just move it to a different drawer or a different location, a shelf, it's in a bag.
Go to episode number 107 where I shared how to create a CER to different tools that you use for
grooming or for nail trimming.
You're going to do the exact same thing with your eyedrops. So now the dog sees the eyedrops and
they go, “Oh. Yeah, I like that. What's going to happen with these eyedrops? I really like them.”
Meanwhile you're going to create a position that your dog can say, “I'm okay with what's going on.” So,
for example every day all of my dogs get 1-TDC squirted onto their gums.
So, the position of consent I call the ‘game on position’ for me putting the 1-TDC on their gums is I ask
them to put their paws up on a low table. And if they hold their paws up, they're saying you have
consent to lift my lip.
If when I lift their lip, they hold their head still they're saying you have consent to squeeze that yummy
stuff into my mouth.
I don't know if it's yummy, I've never tasted it, but I'm assuming so. And you know, at first my dogs
didn't like this and so I had to work this in stages and I'm going to share with you what that looks like.
And then at the end of that I give them a treat.
So, let's say for eye drops or ear drops, maybe having the dog standing with their head be bopping all
over might make it more difficult for you.
So, for a situation like that I would teach my dog to rest their head on a chair or a footstool. And so as
long as their head is on the footstool, they're saying to you “You have consent to carry on because I
see that this is a good thing.” You're getting buy-in from the dog. You’re going to say “why do I have to
Because you love them, and you want them to have this great life.
I still get a kick every morning. Seeing my dogs hit their 1-TDC and go, “Yeah, it's my turn.” “No, no, no.
I want to go first.” “No, it’s my turn.” Wouldn't you much rather have that?
The time that you're going to have to invest doing these steps that I'm going to suggest yes, it might
take you a while. It might even take you several weeks or maybe longer.
But it's an investment into the many, many years of the rest of your dog’s life.
So, we want to create a positive emotional response for all of the things that we're going to be doing.
For restraining, for putting on a sweater, for putting on a coat. So, you're going to break these things
down into small layers. So first off, I might use a Hand Touch and I've got a video. If you're watching
this on YouTube, I'll put a link here on a video that where I'm teaching you how to teach a Hand Touch.
If you're listening, I’m gonna put it in the show notes for you. So come on over to the show notes and
I'm going to have some links in there for you.
So, we're going to teach our dog how to do a Hand Touch. And we might just put the Hand Touch
above something sturdy like the thing that I use is a built-in bench. And my dogs, and I put a dirty dog
doormat on the built-in bench, so their paws don't slide, and they don't get afraid. So, I just get them to
Hand Touch, put your paws up, get a cookie, get lost. Next dog, paws up, get a cookie, get off. So, I'm
building it up in stages. And so, every day I'll do a Hand Touch and then when I see that they're ready,
I’ll just say, “paws up, hand touch”. They put their paws up. I give them a cookie. Tell them to get lost.
Another dog’s turn.
You can do this several times a day and they're going to be like, “it's fun”. Eventually you're just going
to say, “paws up”. Boom, they're going to be there. And then while they have their paws up you might
just touch them on their face. And if you think that might not even bother them, touch their neck, just
give them a stroke and eventually you want to be able to touch them all over before you get that
cookie. Or maybe give them one cookie and another touch, one more cookie and eventually lift up that
lip. Then you're going to be able to introduce a toothbrush.
One step at a time, right? And for those dogs that we're working on, we need your chin to be rested so
that we can do eyedrops. You're gonna work at the dog coming in, putting their chin down, shaping that
behavior. I like to shape it on the ground first, just shaping their head right on the ground, teach the
word ‘head down’ and then use my paw… my paw? This is a hand that has five fingers in it though.
I like to use my hand to put their head over the footstool or a chair. Just tell them you know, that
creates the target and tells them “Head down”. Boom. They do it. Start feeding it and give them a
release. All that we want is for them to have a duration hold with their head down.
Feed, feed, feed, release. You need ItsYerChoice too. I'll put a link to that one as well. Because as the
food's coming in, they're going to want to lift their head off. Their head off means game's over. So, if
their head comes off then yeah you can say search and throw the cookie off, but they don't get the
chance to earn more cookies.
If they keep the head down, you can just keep giving them bon-bons while they're standing there. So
that's what we want. And eventually as the dog says, “I'm good with this.” you can then touch the eye,
put the eyedrops in front of them. Well, that's always meant good things because you've already spent
some time conditioning the sight of that. Give them cookies.
Touch the bottle to their face, give them cookies. Maybe touch your finger right around their eyelids,
give them cookies. I might even take a dropper of water because we don't know that eyedrops may
have a taste because they do go down the back of their throat. But get them used to just water in their
eyes first and one drop, release, big party, many cookies.
So, whatever it is that your dog is saying, “No. Thank you.” number one, I ask that you respect that
your dog is saying, “No, thank you” and say, “Well, this is important. We have to get it done. So how
can I use the things that Susan talked about?
Create steps that create positive events for my dog, so they want to buy-in, that leads them to loving
these things that they’re currently afraid of.” So, when the dog sees the toenail trimmers, go to episode
number 107, because I pretty much you know, step that all out.
Dogs shouldn't be afraid of seeing any grooming tools.
So, whatever it is, and if it's a sports specific thing, you just have to be patient with the dogs. Allow
them to give you their feedback. And when they're saying, “I'm not comfortable”, that ‘I'm not
comfortable’ might come in the form of them leaving you or sniffing or running off or getting the
zoomies. It's all feedback.
You just have to be open to be Shaped by Dog. I'll see you next time.