Sunday, April 25, 2010

Have You Pulled a Tail?

Shaker met his first goose yesterday. As cute as that was, that's not the topic of the day.
All morning I have been thinking about that neglected part of the canine anatomy, the tail.
In puppy class I taught students to grasp the tail firmly (no death grips) at the base. Talk to the dog in a happy voice. Let's not get stressed out about this, smile darn it we're going to have fun.
Slide your hand from the base of the tail to the tip. Talk to the dog, who is probably looking at you like,"What the......" Reassure your dog that you haven't lost your mind. Do it again. Good job; repeat. Finish with a big happy praise. Thump or pet the dog else where. Don't get him thinking you have a tail fixation. You know how upset they get when they think they have a nut case for a human.
What was your dog's reaction the first time you did it? When you did it the second time was the response different? Which time did he gently put his teeth on your hand indicating that he was a little wierded out by your interest in that appendage. When this happens, stop pulling. Keep your hand on the tail, try loosening your grip if the dog still objects. My experience is if I just hold my hand there for a few seconds while comforting the dog that I do know what I am doing, I am not stealing his tail; he will calm down and let me continue.
Reassure in happy tones. Are any of you old enough to remember Barbara Woodhouse? I loved hearing her British, "What a good dog!" That lovely lady taught me the value of praise. I've be hooked on ever since.
I'm still waiting to hear some, then I'll know I've taught well!! My motto has become when in doubt praise. I digress....
If you have the right tension or pressure in your hand, while gliding slowly down the tail by the third pass your dog will look over his shoulder at you. I always find that expression priceless to use the now trite phrase.
Now, that you've pulled your dog's tail three times; how did he like it? What was your dog's response?
My favorite reaction is when a dog gets all wiggly. They may race around the room.
There is so much to be learned by pulling a dog's tail gently. By the way; DO NOT RELEASE QUICKLY. You do not want the tail to go thunk!
If you guys are interested in learning more about how to relax your dog, comment and let me know how your first tail session went.
Here at Carrvilla clients will tell me, "My dog won't let anyone touch his tail."
It always makes me chuckle when they say how surprised and amazed that the dog allows me to handle the tail and likes it.
For about twenty years I have studied soft tissue therapy. I have to thank my friend Cheryl Kirkus for the role she played in my path. She has been an angel in my life. Blessings to you. As I write this I can hear her sarcastic grumblings.
Another angel is Linda Tellington Jones, whose ground breaking work came into my life at just the right time, blessings. 
Over the years I've learned how to relax dogs by manipulating tails. I started working tails in canine body work sessions, then in handling my own dogs. Dogs love tail pulls. I have gotten so that when I meet dogs, I do it as part of a greeting ritual, temperament permitting. It amazed me how many street dog tails I've pulled. Oh my, that sounds dirty. 
Anyway, if you're interested we'll continue this conversation.

 Don't you think something is wrong, when you can't touch your dogs tail?


  1. First give me feedback. Whose tail did you pull? What was the reaction. I know how to do this; I need to know what your experience is when you try. Then I'll know how to proceed. Thanks.

  2. All my dogs are very accustomed to having their tails held/pulled. They don't have much of a reaction but often will lean against the pressure. Of course one way to get a show dog up on it's "toes" is to give a little tug to the tail, they always pull back against it and lean forward. I played a game with a border collie yesterday who I don't believe was to keen on the idea at first. She turned and gave me a funny look and then came back for more. She then settled in and did the "lean" against it. She was in a somewhat stressed state due to a large human gathering in her home and it seemed to help her relax. She went from pacing around to laying down. I play with a lot of tails but I'll be more observant of reactions now. Sorry Jen, I'm always talking about your dog...

  3. Didn't I teach you to do some tail work on one of your dogs? Or has your tail handling just been part of conformation?
    I love that look they give after a good tail pull. Tail work relaxes the back higher up. So pull more tails and let me know the reactions you get.

  4. That's ok, Melissa. She's pretty owner impaired, so there's lots to talk about with her! She did seem to calm down after you worked with her.

  5. So Jen have you tried it? Dogs love this, once they get used to the tail being touched or handled. Come on, Jen, give it a pull.

  6. You did show me some tail work. That is the stuff I was doing with Jen's dog. I do that with my own as well. They usually fall asleep in the process.