Help! Our Puppy Hates to Be Brushed!

Make Brushing Fun

Before you jump into actually brushing your puppy, he may need some time to get used to the sight of the brush itself and to learn to associate the sight of it with good things happening. Place the brush on the ground and surround it with treats — you can even lay a few on the brush itself. Supervise your puppy while he investigates the brush. You can also feed your pup a tasty treat from a bowl placed next to the brush.

Once he is comfortable with the sight of the brush, progress to sitting on the floor while holding the brush stationary in your hand. Allow your dog to approach at his own pace. Avoid moving the brush toward your dog; instead, reward any interest your puppy shows in the brush, even if it’s just a look.

Next, work on teaching your dog to remain in place for brief handling. Comfort is key to increasing handling tolerance. Brushing, like all handling, should only progress while your dog remains in place without struggling. Initially, you may need to offer a continuous stream of treats to help keep him in place. You may want to enlist a family member to help with treat delivery while you handle the brushing.

Start out by brushing gently for just a few seconds in an area where your dog is already willing to tolerate touch, such as his chest or shoulder. Gradually move to brushing other parts of his body or brushing for slightly longer before rewarding him. If he displays any signs of resistance or fear, back up and return to brushing for less time or only in areas he’s okay with.

A slow, gradual approach works best. Start with short sessions of brushing and offer ample treats and praise. Eventually, your puppy should learn to see brushing as a good thing.

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