By Urban Bent Studio
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Q: I have an 11-month-old Terrier-Poodle mix called Sebastian. He is very lovable, very friendly, very smart and usually quite obedient. Being part poodle he needs a lot of brushing, but he simply will not sit still long enough for me to brush him properly. He wriggles away and runs around the house trying to escape the brush. I then have to chase him, bring him back, and start over until it happens all over again and again. In the end, I give up, exhausted. How can I get Sebastian to sit still while I brush him?  (Linda, from Toronto)
A: Hi Linda,
This doesn’t sound very productive. Energetic, yes. Productive, no. Depending on the size of your house, this could classify as marathon training. And I don’t think this is what is meant by “exercising your dog.”
No doubt Sebastian is lovable, friendly, and smart — poodle traits for sure. The part that has me concerned is the “usually quite obedient.” The poodles are notorious for being able to train their owners and most poodle parents don’t even recognize the subtle manipulations in which these little fluff balls are so adept. Kudos to you for understanding the needs of Sebastian’s blended coat type. This is where the “usually obedient dog” needs to be more reliable. If he’s been taught the “stay” command, then it’s just a matter of reinforcing the command to keep him still for a groom. If he hasn’t been taught that, now would be a good time to start.
Let me offer few additional suggestions. If you have a raised platform of some sort, such as a coffee table, kitchen table, or washer/dryer, placing Sebastian on that while grooming may help initially. You can put a non-slip covering on the raised surface (ie; bath mat, rubber mat) to ensure he doesn’t slip around or fall off. Placing Sebastian on a raised surface limits his free movement area due to the restrictive edges and gives you (the groomer) better access to his coat, rather than rolling around on the floor. Also, putting him on a leash and securing him to a pole, leg, faucet, or anything that may be nearby the grooming area will also aid in limiting his movement. This will allow you to keep him with you long enough to prove to him that the grooming process will not be fatal to him and more importantly, that the process is completed when YOU say it is, not him. Of course, a grooming table is ideal for this situation, but you can get by with a makeshift one.
Keep the grooming sessions short and simple at first, as these will yield you faster progress than a few long sessions. When Sebastian complies, reward him. When he protests or wriggles, and he will, because you’re preventing him from his freedom of movement, stay calm and let him have his fight. Puppies, being the dramatic little souls they can be, will try to convince you that being brushed is a fate worse than death. Know that it is not. Don’t get in the fight with him. Be firm. Be fair. Be determined. And most importantly, be consistent.
Best wishes,
Lisa Day has over 30 years experience in grooming and regularly conducts grooming seminars and workshops. She is a certified IPG Master Groomer as well as an IPG certified grooming evaluator and is currently the coordinator of the Professional Grooming Program at Algonquin College in Ottawa.
Lisa has worked with poodles in the sport of competitive obedience for over 20 years in both the US and in Canada. Her current canine partner, GMOTCh Tudorose Smooth Operator RE AM.CDX Am., better known as Shaver, is the first Standard Poodle in the history of Canadian competitive obedience to have achieved the highest title offered in obedience — Grand Master Obedience Trial Champion (GMOTCh).
Some of Lisa’s additional accomplishments in the field of obedience with poodles include:
  • #1 Poodle in Canada 2010
  • #1 Non-Sporting in Canada 2010
  • #3 nationally ranked dog in Canada 2010
  • Winner of the Poodle Club of America’s High in Trial 2010