Who Knows More? Veterinarian or Groomer?Dog Behavior 101

In  order to be able to groom dog, you have to be able to handle the dog. You have to have the attitude that you are in charge.  You have to know how to get control of the dog without injuring the dog, frightening the dog. You getting the dog to trust you. Everything goes more smoothly when the dog trusts the handler.  This means the handler has to have confidence, because the dogs all pick up on body language.

My brother had just gotten his veterinary degree, but he still didn’t have his license, so I asked him to help me in the shop, bathing dogs.  He asked me how I knew the dog wouldn’t bite me.  I told him I could read the dog’s body language.  “Oh,”  he responded.  “They don’t teach us about that in veterinary school..”

Funny?  Ah, no, They all seem to be afraid that every dog is going to bite them.  Unless they  have been very involved with pet animals, they seem to not trust them.  They also  don’t know any better.  I have volunteered with  people trained to be veterinary technicians who have apparently been taught to  put a dog in  his most vulnerable position to cut his nails. Why why why?

Veterinarians also don’t know that  blindness & deafness are color linked.  You don’t breed a ‘merle’ (marbled coated) dog to another merle, as this color is linked to congenital blindness and deafness.    This includes harlequin ( small black spots on a white dog) patterns in Danes and Dalmations.   The black & tan color pattern is also linked to deafness in many breeds.

Most veterinarians are trained as agricultural vets:  to work with farm animals, They’ve been taught that these animals  can endure a lot of pain, and the idea of respecting them  has never been broached in an academic setting.  In this day and age,  I think this is shameful, but  again, if a veterinarian is not a hobbyist or fancier, chances are he stopped learning   when he got his diploma.

About 20 years ago, right about the time that people started using the internet, , people who owned dogs  that had chronic  yeast infections in their ears, and  other skin issues including  foot licking, started to address diet.
By trial and error, they  started feeding  grain-free (no corn, wheat, or soy) to their dogs.  They also started experimenting with protein sources. A result is the  grain free and variable protein dog food industry.  This did not come about because veterinarians suggested this to  dog food manufacturers.  In fact, they pretty much dismissed the  hobbyists and fanciers who  wanted this addressed.   These hobbyists and fanciers , who met at ‘performance’ (obedience, rally, agility, field trials, and even conformation dog shows) shared information.

We hobbyists and fanciers have also been behind using sodium free shampoos for dogs with sensitive skin.  Oatmeal shampoos may be effective, but if sodium is exacerbating the  itchiness—it is NOT helping!  Yet, veterinarians are still  ignoring this fact!

Veterinarians are telling people to use harnesses for dogs with trachea  problems (rather than wide martingales—or—-training the dog to not pull), totally ignoring  the fact that people do not have control of their dogs. This is dangerous. They  ignore the fact that people are using  prong collars and are still not in control of their dogs.  They  don’t advise pet owners of their responsibility to test for genetic defects before they breed their dogs.

Yet, when we groomers address these issues, they  discount us.  The justification is always that they have  doctorate degrees, and I may have only been a high school graduate!

This is why I always suggest that  hobbyists/fanciers  really question their veterinarian—to find out if the  doctor they trust is on the ‘same page’ as they are.

Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, by Charles Darwin, is actually one of the first books I read on  animal behavior, but there  are now so many good books:  anything by Temple Grandin, Brian Kilcommon, Pat McConnell.  There areb so many good books and websites on dog training and understanding dogs.  There is no excuse for  working with animals and not learning how   to understand them.



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One Response to “Who Knows More? Veterinarian or Groomer?Dog Behavior 101”

  1. One word at a time Says:

    This is an awesome post. These are things we’ve been saying in my shop for ages. Thanks for writing this….well done.

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