Test Item 3: Appearance and Grooming
This test demonstrates that the dog will welcome being groomed and examined and will permit someone, such as a veterinarian, groomer, or friend of the owner, to do so. It also demonstrates the owner's care, concern, and sense of responsibility. The evaluator inspects the dog to determine if it cleaned and groomed. The dog must appear to be in healthy condition (proper weight, clean, healthy and alert). The handler should supply the comb or brush commonly used on the dog. The evaluator then softly combs or brushes the dog, and lightly examines the ears and gently picks up each front foot. It is not necessary for the dog to hold a specific position during the examination, and the handler may talk to the dog, praise it, and give encouragement throughout.
Picture taken from www.examiner.com
So Your Goal: Accepting brushing and gentle inspection of feet and ears (or other handling).
Pleasant daily handling and grooming will help you recognize physical problems early on, and your dog will learn that being examined and groomed is a welcome part of everyday life. So to prepare your dog for this test, you'll need to get started now with a daily routine of simple brushing and handling exercises done by you. Gradually build up from gentle touching to brushing and checking each area that will be inspected - ears, body, and feet. Every interaction with grooming utensils and hands :) should be a positive experience.
If your dog becomes afraid or uncertain when its ears or feet are touched, spend time linking touch to those areas with positive associations (praise and treats). Lots of dogs prefer not to have their ears handled, so you want to start making your touch to this place more of a massage. Stroking and massaging your dog's ears on a regular basis often becomes pleasurable for them and can help them deal with the brief inspection done by the evaluator. Once your dog is comfortable being groomed and examined by you, ask someone else to do the same.
The handling does not need to be extremely invasive and remember to take your time as you practice these exercises with your dog. Use a soothing voice - channel the massage therapist in you! Your dog needs to associate these grooming experiences with pleasure (and treats!). Grooming is also a wonderful way to bond with your dog, so make sure to take the time to enjoy the time spent with your dog.
Here is a short video demonstrating Test Item 3. (I used an unfamiliar brush on Mia and apparently she didn't think it smelled so good! Just another reason to use one that your dog is used to and smells like them.)
Next week we'll discuss CGC Test Item 4, Out for a Walk (Walking on a Loose Leash).
Don't forget to check out the other CGC test items we've covered: