Co-operative Care

It may be because I’ve been on Instagram more than usual, keeping an eye on the American XL Bully situation.. but I have been somewhat taken aback by some of the dog handling I’ve seen on people’s reels. Often endorsed by brands the dog guardian is ‘promoting’. There was one poor dog held in a vice like grip, while their guardian is roughly scrubbing at their mouth with a brush.

There is another way!

I’ve talked about it before, it’s called co-operative care. If you want to learn a fun game that facilitates choice, have a look at Chirag Patel’s bucket game on You Tube. He teaches choice, a fundamental part of co-operative care.

Since a puppy, without any gripping or grabbing involved (!), I am able to clean Zeke’s ears, his teeth, brush him, clip his nails, wipe and examine his paws. I might only be able to do one nail, or none, but the point is he has a choice. I say “let me see…” or “shall we do your…”. For his ears, I ask “shall we do your ears?” and sit down with his ear cleaner in my hand. He will then rush up me and drop his nose down between my knees. I don’t grip him in any way, and he tends to lean into the side I am doing as he actually likes it.  Afterwards he runs to the fridge for a tasty treat.

With his teeth, as soon as I go to his cupboard in the kitchen (yep, he has a whole cupboard) and grab the toothpaste and brush, he rushes behind me. Admittedly it’s not a perfect hygienist standard clean, but it’s getting toothpaste onto his teeth on a daily basis. I will brush where and for as long as he lets me. His teeth are sparkling and very white. Please don’t use human toothpaste though, it’s toxic to dogs. Zeke loves this one, and even with daily use it lasts ages. You can start with a little bit on your finger letting your dog lick it off, use a little on your finger on front teeth, and work up to a long handled soft dog tooth brush. You can see his cute face above, licking the paste off.

Have a go, you will be surprised how choice reaches so many areas of the handling you do with your dog, and how much easier life is when you both work together.

Yes, co-operative care is harder and it takes a while. But the fundamental difference is that it builds trust between you and your dog, and that matters.

NB I use this blog to share own experiences in the hope it helps. I am not sponsored to promote any products or services, and my blog will remain that way. Trainers and behaviourists encounter all sorts with their own dogs or dogs they work with, and have learnt lots along the way.

I passed my COAPE first case study (95%) and my case the lovely Husky in the centre where I volunteer, is hopefully in his new home this coming week!

Until next time




I’ve been feeding Zeke his new foods on a slow


I’ve done it🥳. I’m a COAPE Certified Animal Behaviourist, and

Winter Time

After two weeks of rain I’m very happy to have


I’d like to talk about the American XL Bully, if