A guide to cooperative care - giving your dog choice, control and agency

Posted by Linda Wiegmann on

A guide to cooperative care - giving your dog choice, control and agency

Many dogs don't cope with being handled by vets or groomers and don't particularly enjoy the procedures that are done to them.
We often expect dogs to just take these handling procedures on with ease without ever preparing them for it. 

Every (intelligent) living being values choice. It is important to ones wellbeing and makes us feel secure and safe even in uncomfortable situations.

Imagine yourself at the dentist. 🦷 It is time for your regular half yearly check up and your dentist discovers a little hole in the far right corner of your mouth on one of your molars. The tall man in his white scrubs slowly turns towards you to let you know that "it's just a quick procedure and it is best to get it done today instead of waiting longer". You panic a little because last time when you got a filling, the whole experience was less than pleasant. The sound of the dental drill whirling, the feeling of the long syringe digging into your gums and the pressure of instruments in your mouth. Your might feel uncomfortable BUT you know exactly what will happen to you also know you can ask them to stop at any time if you feel like you need a break instead of enduring whatever is happening to you. If you didn't you might not even come back next time for your checkup.

A common approach for vet and grooming visits is to "just get it done". Some dogs shut down and look like they don't mind the whole procedure but are worried and too scared to move or act. Others might growl and even try to bite if their body language has been ignored before.

Learn more about Dog Body Language here at Fear Free Happy Homes:

fear free happy homes dog body language youtube video 

What is cooperative care?

So - what is cooperative care? Cooperative Care focuses on training for your dog (or other pet) to be an active and willing participant in husbandry procedures. Your dog will learn to be able to say "no" and how to give the handler clear signals that it is okay for you to go ahead. Not only does this make your dogs life better and makes them feel safer and happier at the vet or groomer but it also is less stressful for you, your vet and groomer.

Areas you could use cooperative care for:

  • Taking Medication
  • Injection or Blood Draw
  • Wearing a muzzle
  • Checking feet
  • Checking teeth
  • Listening to heart
  • Restraint

 Cooperative Care in action

 The Bucket Game or Chin Rest


Want to learn how to start training with your own dog?

Canine Conversations & The Furry Gremlins have put together this easy to follow Canine Cooperative Care online course for you. You get to watch all procedures in action and we go into depth on how & when to use which techniques.


← Older Post Newer Post →