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 Post subject: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 11:50 am 
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I've had Radar for just over a year. He has been to the groomer 4 times for a puppy cut and I always tell them if they need to muzzle him because he becomes aggressive when his legs are touched, then they need to muzzle him. The groomers tell me muzzling a dog puts fear into them and they hate to do it, but have no choice. Today I had a new groomer come, she handles aggressive dogs and has a mobile grooming van. I was able to be in the van and watch the entire grooming. He started off okay, but then he started snapping, growling, etc once his legs were being clipped. The groomer had no choice but to muzzle him. Just watching him be clipped was nerve wracking as now I know how stressful it is for the groomer and the dog.

The groomer said she has seen worse and 90% of the Cockers she grooms are this way and just hate having their legs and feet touched. She says this is normal for Cockers and she grew up with Cockers!

Does it get better with the age of the dog or will he always be this way when he is groomed? Radar is 7 years old and solid chocolate, I just hate to think that for the next 5-8 years of his life that this situation will occur when he is groomed which is about 4 times a year! I even bought an Andis clipper set but I am only able to do his back, sides and face. Today the groomer used a #7 blade and a #10 underneath so hopefully this cut will last 4 months till it's time to go again!


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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 1:28 pm 
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Bump! No replies or suggestions so I assume this is just a Cocker thing!


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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 1:35 pm 
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I think it's a very common problem with Cockers. Hobbes doesn't have a problem with grooming, and our groomer always says that out of all the Cockers she's groomed(and she's done a LOT), he's one of the few that don't need to be drugged up or muzzled to be groomed! I know she grooms several older Cockers, 9 and 10, that have had issues being groomed for years, with not a lot of improvement :dk Sorry,that's not probably not what you want to hear! Hopefully you can figure out a good situation for both you and Radar that doesn't require either of you getting too stressed out!! :th-up

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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:19 pm 
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I groom my girl Penny and have a groomer that does her and have never had an issue. She is five years old, I wish there was something I could suggest that would help but not sure what that would be. I have always touched her feet and she doesn't mind.

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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 2:58 pm 
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Zoey doesn't enjoy grooming but she does not need to be muzzled. She tends to poop in the tub or on the table. You don't know what or if anything happened to radar before he came to you. Does he let you touch his legs? I would start slow treats before and after. Touch his legs at first and if he is ok slowly progress from there . Eventually touch him with clipper off the on but a distance away while you touch his legs. He has been this way for at least a year so it may take time to convince him to allow this.

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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:18 pm 
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I dont think this is a Cocker thing. We have had 6 Cockers and never once they were muzzled for grooming. My most recent and the one I groommed more frequently was Holly and she never did that. She will lay on the floor or wherever you put her and it was ok. She had only one negative and was she did not like her nails clipped, she will pull her legs so i could not do it by myself. Get the clippers and play with them as if you are grooming him, maybe you can learn to do it and it will be less stressful for him.

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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:45 am 
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I have 2 cockers and both of them were like that. I started a game of touching their feet and then it went to massaging their feet and I just went up their legs from there. Now I have 2 very spoiled cockers who I can groom with no resistance but who will lay across my lap for their massage..LOL Try slowly touching their feet and go from there. Good Luck.


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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:15 am 
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This is NOT a Cocker thing . . . . this is a thing for dogs that are not used to being groomed. My dogs don't love having their legs and feet groomed (and will pull away every chance they get), but they NEVER show aggression to me, nor do they poop on the table.

A good breeder starts grooming the puppies at 3-4 weeks, and does so at least once a week while they have them. This helps the puppies get used to grooming, which is critical for a breed like Cockers. They also encourage you to keep up with grooming once you bring your puppy home, so that the puppy tolerates grooming.

Obviously with rescued dogs you have no idea what their history is, but please know that this isn't normal behaviour. I've owned a number of Cockers, groomed Cockers for others and rescued/fostered Cockers and have only ever had ONE dog that needed a muzzle. She only needed that muzzle when I did nails, and after months of being gentle, I could do those without a muzzle too. She was bred by a BAD breeder, and had lots of health and temperament issues.

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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:45 pm 
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I'm with Kelly on this. Abby is awful about her feet. She is forever yanking them out of my hands, but never ever is there even the slightest display of aggression. I probably display more aggression while trying to do her feet than she ever has or could :gig It is not a cocker thing. I think time is the key here...time and working with them a little at a time over time.

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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:17 pm 
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"Does it get better with age or...."

NO, it Does Not get better with age, it gets better with positive experiences.

I have to say I helped "clean up" many dozens of cockers straight from the shelters, and the only ones who snapped had horrid matts and/or sores or other injuries under filthy coats, i.e.handling them was causing Pain.

We did Not muzzle them*, their training started right there: we took a break, sent them to "go potty" and "get a drink" and rewarded with treats and play. Then we went back to work. And yes, sometimes the process took most of the day. Did they do better the next time? Absolutely!!

But I also made a point of running a comb or brush over them, turning the clippers on close by, lifting their ears and touching their feet the very next day, and every day, until we had no fear reactions or they got adopted, which ever came first. Respectful training and conditioning is what will change the behavior.

*Our rescue vet said the same thing: putting a muzzle on a dog provokes a fear reaction. Kinda the last thing you want to do with a dog who is already reacting with fear.

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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:27 pm 
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Zoey is a nervous pooper. She poos at the vet and on car rides even though she loves to get in the car.....she has improved with me grooming her at home(except for nails ) but I give her frequent potty breaks also and she hasn't pooped in my tub in a long time. Time and love should b able to help radar

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Deuce the maine coon cat
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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:01 pm 
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I don't think it is a "cocker thing" either. I think a lot has to do with how much handling you do with the dog as a puppy. I got my girl at 8 months and I don't think her breeder handled/loved or touched her that much, but I would touch her feet often.

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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 9:42 am 
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Nope, definitely not a cocker thing, I only have one that I have ever muzzled and that's because she was always heavily matted. Most of them the main problem is avoiding the swiping tongue and madly whipping tail!! As others have said, try to get him used to the experience between groomings, just run down one side of a leg with a brush and reward for that, and work on from there.

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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 7:53 pm 
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My recent rescue cocker, Branson, came to me matted and with little to no grooming experience. He is about 2 years old. The first time he was groomed he was terrified of anything around or on his face. He would spin and snap and mouth for his ears. He was also touchy under his tail. I work with him a lot at home, just rubbing and touching those areas he is most sensitive to. As soon as he starts to show the least bit of discomfort, I give him a quick "eh, eh" sound and that usually causes him to pause a minute, but I keep rubbing. I have occasionally had to look him in the eyes and tell him a firm "No" when he goes out of control and that works well too. The main thing is to stay calm about it. Don't try to be dominant. Don't try to force him through. Always address the bad behavior the moment it happens. A quick "eh" does wonders with all the dogs I groom. As soon as he stops being bad, follow up with a "Good boy" (Calm, soothing, normal voice and not an excited or high pitch one. You want to keep him calm) and then resume with what you were doing. Always end on a good note. If a dog snaps for something, do it again until he doesn't snap and you can end on a happy note, correcting as needed.

Unfortunately, some groomers are better with aggression than others. And every groomer has her off day from time-to-time. If you can find one willing to work with him, great. However, I suspect much of this behavior training needs to begin at home and then hopefully, you can help your groomer with overcoming the issues as well.

Also I would seriously reconsider a 4 month schedule. That amounts to just 3 times a year. No dog can be trained in that time frame. A cocker should be groomed every 6 weeks at a minimum, and ideally, every month. Even bi-weekly bath and brushing sessions with just a face, feet, and tail trim up can do wonders to get him over his issues. It may also be that your boy was matted in the past and had to be shaved. Matting, even when shaved off, is extremely painful to a dog to go through and if he already has fear about having his legs touched, shaving off matts only compounds the problem. Putting it into human terms, if you went to the hair salon and they pulled your hair out, you would probably not go back. Dogs don't have that choice so it is imperative that they learn that in spite of the discomforts that come with grooming, it is not really a bad experience and can be fun. This can only be taught with repetition, patience, and time.


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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2013 9:21 am 
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Jessica M., I think you are right about the aggression. He is a rescue dog and maybe the rescue should inquire about a dog's grooming experiences when accepting a dog that is being relinquished. When I got Radar, he was in a puppy cut and had been recently groomed. I do bathe him every 3 weeks and I brush him every other day but just his back, head, and chest. He will let me trim his face, ears, and back but that is it.

I have all his medical records and even though the previous owners names were blacked out I can still see their name and address. I am debating if I should contact them and politely inquire about his previous grooming experiences.


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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2013 6:58 am 
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I don't think its a cocker thing either. I feel it is a problem with any dog that needs regular grooming and wasn't properly socialized to it when young.
I made the mistake in the past to not groom puppies right away when I got them. When it came time to groom they are fearful. I think that is the aggression. It is not truly aggression but fear and that is how the dog protects itself.
The grooming has to be seen as a good thing and can take a long time to convince a dog of this. Make the grooming sessions short and use high power treats when the dog is good. My boy Mickey had tonsils problems and he wouldn't let me trim his throat and under his chin. It was always a battle :sad Once we did the surgery to remove his tonsils I thought it would improve but it took a really long time for him to trust me and to realize it wouldn't hurt.
We have had 2 litter of puppies over the past 3 yrs and I start grooming the puppies as soon as their faces get fuzzy (around 3-4 weeks old). The first grooming session is maybe 5 seconds long but we repeat it at least weekly and trim toe nails as well. Now as adults they have absolutely no fear of being groomed. I also massage and play with the puppies feet daily.
I also think the more frustrated the groomer gets the more worked up the dog will get. I hope grooming sessions will improve for your dog.

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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 4:15 pm 
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No it is not a cocker thing. In fact, the only cocker I ever had with true aggression issues, was not difficult to groom.

I would start de-sensitizing touching feet and legs in contexts outside of grooming. Use clicker training and link touching feet/legs to getting treats/meals.

I'm not sure if it is worth contacting previous owners. He is what is and how he came to be this way probably isn't that important.

I also think that the extra short cut which requires very close cutting next to the skin might be uncomfortable.

Colleen K


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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 8:29 pm 
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Hi. I made sure I touched my pup everywhere from the moment he came home. I brushed and bathed him, massaged his feet and ears. I started preparation for grooming gently and constantly by turning on the clippers in the room and letting him come over to check them out. Over several days I gradually put the buzzing clipper on his back. Each time I only did what he was happy and calm with. He has always been fine with me clipping his body and face but has always hated having his legs and feet clipped. Over time he actually got worse. At around 9 months he started growling and biting at me. After trying many things I put two leashes on him. One holds his head up and one under his belly near his back legs. He cannot get his teeth near his feet. This way I can be calm while clipping him all over. At first he struggled but gave up very quickly. Tom is 15 months old now and is much happier with all grooming and handling. I can now clip his toes without any harness.
Sorry for the long winded spiel. I have a very determined little boy and I have a lot to learn but this one thing that worked for both of us.


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 Post subject: Re: Cocker grooming with aggression
PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2014 9:25 am 
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Gromit doesnt't show any aggression while being groomed. She has what my old groomer referred to as the "cocker head droop", but other than that she's pretty easy. I would DEFINITELY recommend getting a set of cordless clippers. I use the Wahl Bravura lithuim ion cordless clippers as the battery lasts much longer. Cordless clippers are WAY quieter than regularly clippers, so I don't think they're as stressful. Gromit would lay down for the entire process if I let her, silly girl.

At this point, it sounds like you have a lot of retraining to do. Take it slow, even if that means grooming him over several days. Lots of treats, positive reinforcement, and he'll come around. And in between grooming, spend time gently rubbing his toes, his feet, stratching his legs with your fingers.

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