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Gentling Exercises

Suspension  |  Suspension in the Vet Clinic

Indications for the Suspension Technique

Bonding To The Place
Probably the very best time to do suspension is when greeting a new puppy on the pet’s first visit.This gentle leadership with cooing and a cookie is a great ice breaker for both the pet and person. The pet parent sees how pets are loved and enjoyed, and the pup learns that this place is full of “friendly powerful cookie givers.” Every member of the team can repeat this process as often as time permits. As long as the pet is not fearful and a cookie is included, this technique cannot be overdone.

Day Care Activity - Puppies 12 Weeks and Under
If you offer “Day Care,” then everyone is encouraged to stroll through and if the kennel card indicates “Day Care,” take the pet out (even if quietly resting) for suspension, followed by a cookie. This is great fun and great socialization and bonding experiences for the pets.

Preparation For Examination
The Veterinary Nurse and DVM will find that if they first take a few seconds to suspend, the pet will often be much easier to examine. The reason is that through suspension, the handler has communicated leadership, strength, and lack of threat.

Puppy Kennel Barking
Barking is an instinctive method of solicitation, and the puppy often uses it to get attention (even if negative) and so escalates the kennel barking. Bribing with food may reward the barking, and punishment increases the stress, which is relieved by increased barking. Elevating this pup helps quiet it in some (not all) cases. The suspension is a reminder of the strength and leadership of the handler, which is calming to some pups.

Puppy Biting
Suspension is one technique on a menu for the owner as a response to puppy biting. The fact that the pup is touching the family member with its teeth is a concern. After bite inhibition training, the second best technique to teach the family to respond to puppy biting, with suspension. The goal is to communicate to the puppy that the family member is calm, strong, safe and may be touched with the tongue but not with with teeth.

Puppy Frenzy
When teaching this technique to the family, it is important to emphasize that lifting the pup for 5-10 seconds allows a cooling off period (“time out”) and helps establish calming. This is not a punishment, and any punitive efforts (shaking or yelling) are somewhat dangerous (similar to shaken human babies).

Adding anything punitive to suspension only increases fear and distrust, while losing the opportunity to communicate a positive message.

As An Interruption For Any Unruly Canine Behavior
Families report positive outcomes from learning about suspension during puppy class. One person reported that her now one year old poodle tended to bark inappropriately in several situations. Without yelling or punishing, she found that if she merely suspended the dog, it calmed hime down and he subsequently followed her instructions. It seemed to her as if the pack hierarchy had just been reestablished with a calm clear maternal message.

...::::::: Copyright 2000-2009 Rolan Tripp, DVM :::::::...