What is Cooperative Care & What Can You Start TODAY to Make It Less Stressful?
with Tressa Fessenden-McKenzie of PathandPaw, Training Advocate
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I'm excited to start a new series with you all about cooperative care! This is a topic I feel so strongly about and something I really think gets skipped over too often.


What is cooperative care?

Cooperative care refers to teaching a dog to be an active and willing participant in their own care. This means not only tolerating but actively being a part of care activities like nail trims, examinations, grooming, and more!


Why is this important?


  • Teaching our dogs a way of saying "no thank you" that we consistently respect makes them feel safer and prevents them from needing to say "no thank you" with, well, their teeth.
  • Teaching dogs that they have agency and can opt out when they need to makes them more willing to opt IN!
  • Making care procedures consensual reduces stress for both the animal and the caregiver.
  • Improves your relationship with your dog.
  • We are modeling an extremely considerate approach to animal care for our children and opening a conversation about consent (both in interacting with animals and in many other aspects of life). This will actually help keep them safer when they interact with other animals in their lifetime.


What's something you can start doing right now that will make care less stressful for you and for your dog?

Use food! Offer your dog treats as they put their head in their harness. Give your dog treats periodically as you brush them. Smear peanut butter or spray cheese for your dog to lick off the wall while you bathe them. Simply pairing food with these activities will help build a positive association and will make your dog a more willing participant.