Is your German Shepherd difficult to brush? Above is a video of Jabber the wooly mammoth, demonstrating a grooming trick you can try, along with a training strategy for teaching your dog to stand for brushing.

German Shepherds blow their coats twice per year: in the spring and again in the fall.

First, note whether your dog has any problems or sensitivity when you handle the following areas:

  • Ears (Does your dog have a history of ear infections?)
  • Tail
  • Skirts (hind legs)
  • Legs and paws (Any bad experiences with nail trims, in the past?)
  • Reaching toward her collar
  • Collar
  • Head

If so, you’ll want to resolve any handling issues before you begin teaching your dog to stand for grooming. (If your dog is growling at you or otherwise behaving aggressively when you attempt to touch him, do not attempt to train him on your own — contact a qualified animal behavior consultant or veterinary behaviorist!)

Steps for teaching your dog to stand on a platform while grooming

  1. Start by clicking for two feet on a platform.
  2. Once your dog will stand for 30 seconds or more on the platform, introduce the brush or grooming rake by showing it to the dog while he is on the platform, then clicking (or saying “Good”) and feeding. Don’t touch your dog with the brush yet! Repeat 4-5 times, or at least until your dog stops moving off the platform when you pull out the brush.
  3. Brush in short bursts, 2-5 seconds long, then stop, and feed.*
  4. Continue brushing 2-5 more seconds, then feed and release your dog.
  5. Start again, this time making some brushing sessions a few seconds longer before you feed / release.

Be sure to start brushing your German Shepherd in the easy-to-handle places (usually her chest and back) before you move onto trickier areas such as tail or skirts. Eventually, you can use the release as a reward, along with brushing areas he or she likes (such as the chest) as rewards for brushing the harder areas.

*You can drop the clicker at this step, unless you happen to be great at holding treats and a clicker while you brush! I do not use a clicker in the video above when I get to the brushing step, and carry the treats in my pocket.

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