Mike McConnery at Baden K9 started every morning of training with an inspection. The dog was checked head to tail, ears to paws looking for anything that may preclude training for the day. The first day we examined our own dogs, the days after we would examine our own and then examine someone else’s. The dog was given the “stand” command and then the “inspection” command. The dog was expected to stay standing and not turn to see what you were doing as we lifted lips to check teeth and gums, peered into their ears, prodded, poked, and palpated their entire body, checking for any abnormalities. The second day, after inspecting Scout, it was my privilege to inspect a 90 lbs gorgeous German Shepherd. I was slightly apprehensive because I saw the damage he did the day before during bite work. But it was a great confidence builder for all the handlers. I thought Mike was just getting the dogs accustomed to being handled by other people but I truly believe the main purpose of the exercise was to give handlers the confidence to deal with dogs other than their own. Everything at Baden stretches your comfort zone to make you and your dog a better team.
It turns out that a well rehearsed “inspection” command would have been really nice the other day when we had to take Scout to the vet. She has practiced the command some but it was clear we need to polish it up as she kept turning her head to see what the vet was doing near her hindquarters. It wasn’t so much that she was indicating she was defensive as much as the vet, being so skittish and nervous, transferred suspicion to Scout. Had she gone in and done what she was going to do, Scout would have stood there and taken it. As it was, the vet, being so nervous, made scout nervous as well. Nervous dog and nervous vet don’t mix well. Scout could sense the tension and I made sure to get in there and give the “easy” reassurance and let her know that it was ok. Don’t mind the inexperienced vet.
The inspection command is pretty easy to practice. I will put Scout up on an elevated surface, tell her to “Stand” and then “Inspection.” I will start with her teeth and work my way around her. Any time she breaks obedience, she will get a correction. As long as she doesn’t break position, she will get “Good Inspection.” I’ll make sure to poke and prod in preparation for future vet visits. Once she gets used to my inspections, I will have Ash conduct them. Eventually, it will be performed by other people.
Practice makes perfect.