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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Jolene is almost 4 months old and she is full of personality! She is a very sweet and silly girl and coming along with socialization, potty training, and not annoying the heck out of her brother constantly….And she’s getting bigger— weighed in at 4.25 lb today! 😊 But she hates being groomed and I’m really starting to struggle with it as her hair gets longer!

She’s always been very wiggly and not wanted to stay still, and at first would try to bite the comb but I found that when I held a sweet potato treat for her to gnaw on, I could manage combing her hair. But it seems to be getting harder every day so I’d love some adv

She’s pretty good with handling- I can touch her all over with just my hands and no problem. And I can hold the brush near her and give her treats without a problem. I can even comb her back fairly easily. But the second i get to one of the spots pulls in the slightest, even when I’m going slow and very gently, she immediately stops chewing and goes for the comb. I’ve tried different tools, different chews… always the same story! It’s slightly better when she’s sleepy, but always seems to get her hyped up within a few minutes. She also doesn’t like baths, but I’m less concerned with that as it’s not an everyday occurrence!

I KNOW how critical it is to have her tolerate grooming because it is a big part of any Hav’s life, and was hoping to have it be a pleasant experience for her! I have actually been so much more methodical about introducing it in positive ways than with Charlie because he is not a fan of grooming. But he’s the ‘suffer in silence’ type and at the most will try to walk away, but never fights me on anything, so not quite sure how to handle.

Anyone have tips on getting this wriggly, opinionated little girl to tolerate grooming better?

Thank you!


Dog Carnivore Dog breed Companion dog Water dog
 

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Be persistent. Push past the point if her biting the comb but not to the point where she’s trying to escape. Gently continue. Try to groom more often than you need to and keep using treats. 5 minutes every day or even 3 minutes twice a day will work better than any 30 minute session. If you only have a few minutes to comb, prioritize the areas that are more notorious for mats and handling sensitivity, such as feet, tail, and ears. One day pretty soon you will notice she is cooperating more and you will be reassured that you are doing the right thing. When she is a year old you will look back and see the difference and be so proud of what you accomplished! It’s not like learning “sit” or “stay,” where you see immediate results. You will continue to see progress as she matures and eventually when she passes adolescence and finishes blowing coat.
 

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Also I think with good tools it matters less what you use. She’s still adjusting to the sensation and learning to cooperate, so it’s less about the specific tool. The wood pin brush worked really well for me at exactly her age. He did try to chew it so I had to be careful not to put it down next to him :) As long as she has some practice with a comb, I’d just stick with whatever brush works best for you and she’ll get used to it.
 

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You know, I am ALL for positive training, but grooming is SUCH an important part of the life of a Havanese, this is one place that I take no prisoners. I am not mean or rough, but neither do I accept biting at the comb or at me, or trying to get away. I firmly but gently hold on. Treats are GREAT if they work. But if they are going to play rough, I hold them down. Gently. I let the pressure up IMMEDIATELY if they show signs of relaxing. Hold on harder if they start to struggle. Keep sessions really short when you are doing this, but make it clear that it is on YOUR terms, not theirs. They do NOT get to get away by being little brats. Because honestly, that's what it sounds like she is being. ;)
 
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Two people helps a lot, especially to start with. I'm the designated holder. When I'm holding one, I hold the upper arms, above the elbows, mostly.

They can not get away, but I put No More pressure than they are resisting with. Any resistance is met with an equal, and opposite pressure. The Instant they release, I release.

Just like training a horse to tie, or lead, they learn quickly with the perfect timing. They can never feel fear.
 

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They can not get away, but I put No More pressure than they are resisting with. Any resistance is met with an equal, and opposite pressure. The Instant they release, I release.

Just like training a horse to tie, or lead, they learn quickly with the perfect timing. They can never feel fear.

Yes! This is what I was trying to explain, but Tom said it better. We are both horse people! I don't have a second "holder" person, so I've learned to do it myself! LOL! Having Dave "hold" was a disaster! He "clamps down", which only makes the puppy struggle more and get afraid. (or for the ones who AREN'T afraid, to fight back!) It is SO important to ONLY use EXACTLY the amount of force necessary and not a bit more, and to release pressure the INSTANCE you feel them relax!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
These responses are so helpful! And you are right @krandall she’s just being a brat and trying (extremely hard) to train us! I like the ‘if you relax, we release pressure’ idea and will try this approach today, hopefully I can get Rob to cooperate! 😊
 

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Another thing that helps - you mentioned that it's when things get a little more pull-y that she starts biting. One thing I find very helpful with Perry (who is a complete!!! drama queen when it comes to pulling certain areas of hair) is if there's an area with any snags to hold the hair below the snag and then work it out with the comb above where I'm holding it (it's harder to do when the knot is close to the skin, but you can generally hold it close so that it's not pulling at the skin so much). In those places he squirms much less when I do that.

Unfortunately we still have a few areas that he gets squirmy no matter what so I have to hold him rather than being able to hold the hair below near the skin to comb the rest out. I've tried to explain to him that if he didn't squirm so much it wouldn't hurt so much because I could hold the hair instead of holding him :) but no luck so far!
 

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Oh, I also wanted to say that even on my show dog, if there is a mat in an arm pit or groin, where it will really hurt to comb it out, I just don’t I cut it out very carefully, making slices up into the mat, making VERY sure not to cut the skin!!! Then carefully tease out the mat from there. I would rather maintain my relationship with my dog than torture them with painful knots in nasty places! The fact is, if you are careful, these won’t show anyway!
 
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
All helpful advice! Luckily we’ve been able to keep her free of actual mats so far, but she does have a few little snags from time to time. I hear you on cutting out matts in inconspicuous places and we’ve definitely done that with Charlie… it’s just not worth it sometimes, and the hair is going to be broken by the mat even if you manage to get it out without cutting!

I’m happy to report that she’s doing MUCH better already with the new system. It’s funny how quickly she adjusts when she realizes that her behavior is getting her the exact opposite of what she wants (i.e. shuts up quickly when we leave the room after she demand barks from her pen), and this seems to be working similarly. They sure do try hard to train us!

She’s been MUCH slower to learn this with Charlie (I can just see her little brain thinking “I know that this is the time that jumping on his face is going to work!”), but they’re getting there. Current adorable nap time right next to me… She actually started perched on top of the two pillows, but slowly slid down. She definitely has the weird sleeping positions thing down!

Dog Vertebrate Dog breed Comfort Carnivore
 

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All helpful advice! Luckily we’ve been able to keep her free of actual mats so far, but she does have a few little snags from time to time. I hear you on cutting out matts in inconspicuous places and we’ve definitely done that with Charlie… it’s just not worth it sometimes, and the hair is going to be broken by the mat even if you manage to get it out without cutting!
Not necessarily... If you get to mats before the tighten up and felt, and work them out gently, what you are removing is the dead undercoat, which needs to come out anyway, not the long outer coat. But I refuse to hurt my dog to work at ones in those very sensitive areas,

Of course, sometimes someone has allowed their dog to mat to the skin completely by mistake. I was talking to a pet owner with HER breeder (a friend of mine) today about her dog, in long coat, 6 years old, with a coat absolutely felted in places, especially right around her muzzle and the woman didn't realize it. We both felt bad telling her, but had to make it clear that it would be cruel to even TRY to comb out that matting from such a sensitive area. That the only thing to be done at this point is to cut her down and start over, and that will mean she needs to comb her out DAILY until she gets a good feel for how often the dog NEEDS combing out. The woman was SHOCKED! She comes from Beardies, who don't have this soft downy undercoat. We had to explain that every Havanese is different, and the amount/frequency of grooming needed once they are adults is largely dependent on the amount/texture of the undercoat. Panda can easily go a week between grooming. Kodi could go 3-4 days. From what I saw of Pixel's coat when she partially grew out during Covid, I think she would be similar. But this girl has a PROFUSE downy undercoat that came out in gobs just from our fingers, so clearly there was tons of "dead stuff" under there that NEEDED to be removed. She is PROBABLY one that will need ALMOST daily, light grooming if they want to keep her in full coat.

In the case of your little one, she is way too young to be gettin much matting yet. Even at 6 months, Ducky doesn't get any matting yet. An occasional ing of the comb is the worst it gets. He still gets combed almost daily, but it is mostly for practice, not because his coat needs it yet. ...But the clock is ticking for him! It's gettin longer FAST! LOL!

I’m happy to report that she’s doing MUCH better already with the new system. It’s funny how quickly she adjusts when she realizes that her behavior is getting her the exact opposite of what she wants (i.e. shuts up quickly when we leave the room after she demand barks from her pen), and this seems to be working similarly. They sure do try hard to train us!
LOL! Dogs do what works for them! If demand barking works, they will increase it. If being quiet works better, they will do that instead! :D

She’s been MUCH slower to learn this with Charlie (I can just see her little brain thinking “I know that this is the time that jumping on his face is going to work!”), but they’re getting there. Current adorable nap time right next to me… She actually started perched on top of the two pillows, but slowly slid down. She definitely has the weird sleeping positions thing down!
I have found that girl are more "intense"? maybe? Not only my own, though it is true with them too. But with other people's Havanese as well. The boys are more go-with-the flow. It can make them SEEM like "slower learners" in SOME ways, because they are more determined to have things their way. OTOH, if you can get them working WITH you, they are smart as a whit. And if you WATCH them, they are often AMAZING at figuring out things on their own, while the boys will sit and wait for help. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Ouch, that poor little one and her owner, who Im sure was so upset! But glad you coached her to start over… I feel like the muzzle mats and armpits are the absolute worst, and tend to be the ones we’re more likely to use a scissor for help. We’re very lucky with Charlie’s coat too, as he can easily go a week between combing as long as he doesn’t get into too much grass/dirt/sand. Jo’s puppy coat is lovely and silky smooth. It’s hard to say what her adult coat will be like yet, but definitely hoping for the silky and easy to care for variety, which her mom definitely has. We will see, but we’ll love her even if she’s higher maintenance, and will continue to work on daily grooming regardless!


OTOH, if you can get them working WITH you, they are smart as a whit. And if you WATCH them, they are often AMAZING at figuring out things on their own, while the boys will sit and wait for help. ;)
Too funny, because I feel like this describes them perfectly! We’ve always laughed at how quickly Charlie gives up when placed with an obstacle (like a toy that goes under the couch). He’ll just look at us with these sad eyes and whine, as if it were completely impossible for him to get to without help (spoiler alert- it’s not!) Jolene, on the other hand, has a fiercely independent streak and definitely will solve things on her own when giving the freedom to do so. This morning she quickly solved a puzzle toy even though she apparently wasn’t hungry, as she left all the kibble (which Charlie happily helped her out with…). I’m just grateful that she hasn’t ‘solved’ the challenge of how to get out of the x-pen!
 

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Too funny, because I feel like this describes them perfectly! We’ve always laughed at how quickly Charlie gives up when placed with an obstacle (like a toy that goes under the couch). He’ll just look at us with these sad eyes and whine, as if it were completely impossible for him to get to without help (spoiler alert- it’s not!) Jolene, on the other hand, has a fiercely independent streak and definitely will solve things on her own when giving the freedom to do so. This morning she quickly solved a puzzle toy even though she apparently wasn’t hungry, as she left all the kibble (which Charlie happily helped her out with…). I’m just grateful that she hasn’t ‘solved’ the challenge of how to get out of the x-pen!
I really LOVE the differences in personality between both the different sexes and the different individuals! ❤
 
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