The Dog to the Brush!

Part 2 - Isometrics in Husbandry

Trainerin wartet mit Bürste auf den Hund

An idea travelling from Germany to Scotland an beyond

In summer 2018, I was able to spend three months with Claire Staines from Lothlorien Dog Services as a part of the European exchange programme Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs. The programme is all about the exchange of ideas and best practices between host and new entrepreneur, looking at these ideas with a fresh eye and adapting them to suit local requirements.

The German dog trainer and behaviourist Ute Blaschke-Berthold transferred the Isometrics from human physiotherapy to behavioral work with dogs. Her idea was influenced by Kayce Cover’s protocol for body targets.

The Isometrics travelled in my tool box from Germany to Scotland and Claire creatively developed them to suit her client’s needs.

Isometric Exercises - putting your dog under pressure

In the Isometric Exercises, you use the palm of your hand to build pressure on a group of your dog’s muscles and use the effect that your dog in turn must also build up pressure to stay in balance. Through the tension of the muscles and the subsequent relaxation, the muscles are gently trained.

In part 1 Isometric Exercises – putting your dog under pressure you can find the protocol.

The dog to the brush!

Mac is a deaf border collie who doesn’t like to be touched and groomed. Brushing makes him nervous. By using Isometric Exercises, Claire teaches him to go to his guardian Jill, who is holding the brush, rather than the brush going towards him. This gives him choice, control over what is happening and the possibility to stop whenever he feels uneasy. By using isometrics instead of “normal” target training, Mac learned to apply the pressure on the brush by himself, which is needed for effective grooming.

Step 1: Bar open - bar closed

In a first step, Jill works on changing the association, that Mac has with the brush by playing the game: “Bar open – bar closed” Whenever the brush is presented to Mac, the bar is open, which means, that Mac receives a yummy treat whenever he looks at the brush. As soon as the brush disappears, the bar is closed and there are no more yummy treats. Soon Mac starts to eagerly anticipate the brush to appear.

Step 2: Adding Isometrics

In a second step, Jill teaches Mac to target her hand, using the protocol of the Isometric Exercises as described in Part 1. Then she adds the brush as a target and slowly builds up the stroking movement. By the end of the session, Mac is proud of his voluntary fluff pile from the no force and no bribery brushing session. He did tell Jill he had had enough by not coming back in so that’s all for today, but the two did manage one bum cheek though.