Growls When I Brush His Teeth - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 03-26-2014, 12:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 52
Default Growls When I Brush His Teeth

Three-year-old GSD, always has been ill-at-ease with tooth brushing, but he likes it. When he hears or sees the brush come out of the jar he trots right over, sits pretty.

He's growled from time to time, but it's getting kind of bad. I'm a little concerned.

Like I said, he trots over in anticipation. I let him smell the brush first, hold his mouth open at the front teeth with crossed fingers. Gentle finger pressure brushing. "Good boys" after. He has no choice in the matter, but I try to make it a pleasant experience for him. Dental health is fine.

I was seriously injured a year and a half ago, which was traumatic for both of us. Long recovery. He was just coming of age then, and took to protecting me, bigtime. I make a point of giving him his space, but he can ask for and receive (non-intrusive) affection.

His training is pretty limited. Hand signals indoors right now. He has an e-collar for walks around the farm animals (had been chasing), is very sensitive to that. He responds instantly to vibrate. E-stim at any level is a bit much for him, gets "clingy" to me. I don't do any training proper with the collar because of that. He's a pretty high-octane dog, even for a working line GSD, especially when I'm around.

I'm thinking there is some sort of emotional management I should be doing with him, but I'm not sure what. Building his confidence? Working on boundaries?
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Old 03-26-2014, 06:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
Join Date: Jul 2011
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A little more detail: today he came trotting over, wagged, sat like usual. As I got ready to get the toothbrush in, he started to tense up. Growls. Ears back. Brusha-brusha. "Good boy!" Eyes got wider when he realized it was over, slowly relaxed.

I trim his nails with a Dremmel, which he hates. He retreats to his kennel when he sees me starting the process: messing with the extension cord, or putting on "those" safety glasses. But not if I'm working on something else. He's very, very good at interpreting my body language.

I show him a carrot (his reward at the end), put it on the counter. I call him and he reluctantly comes. Buzz-buzz-buzz, "good boy," pets, carrot. He's very affectionate at the end. He gets the hair brush (loves it) and more praise. No growling at all, but hates the process.

Last edited by beezaur; 03-26-2014 at 07:03 PM.
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Old 03-26-2014, 07:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 278

many people could never get their dog to stay still for a tooth brushing and a nail clipping so you should be very proud of that at least. my puppy hasn't had his teeth done but I had the vet assistant ladies do his nails and he hollered
Tiger A.K.A Clown Town- 12/19/13
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Old 03-26-2014, 09:13 PM   #4 (permalink)
Join Date: Jul 2011
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Okay, thanks

I guess it's been a long journey for us. Things were a mess for a while. Lots of love an respect has gone both ways with him and me.

Spring has arrived here, so training can hopefully be more at the forefront of our activities. I have the feeling he needs a job.
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