COOPERATIVE CARE CERTIFICATE Program
Founded in 2020
Cooperative Care refers to a variety of behaviors and skills that help dogs accept and tolerate physical care of all types. We often see the need for cooperative care in grooming and veterinary procedures.
Another term commonly used for this type of work is “husbandry”. Many dog owners never really consider proactively teaching husbandry; they simply use pressure and force to get things done. Some dogs are fine with that. Others, however, are much more sensitive. In either case, training cooperative care procedures can make grooming and vet visits much less stressful for everyone involved.
Earning a certificate is a way to structure and assess your training accomplishments. It is recognition from an outside, expert source, that you and your dog have achieved a reasonable level of comfort and competency performing husbandry procedures.
As a trainer, your certificate can be used to show your mastery of a subject area. It adds legitimacy to your teaching and training. You can inspire your students to follow along the same path! It’s also a great achievement to share with your veterinarian to show how serious you are about providing safe and comfortable care for your dog.
We hope to motivate more trainers and pet owners to train cooperative care behaviors. The format of this program helps you organize training sessions, giving you a systematic way to increase challenges and make meaningful progress.
The CCC program is organized into 3 levels and has 10 exercises. The challenge of the exercises increases with each level. We award a passing score and certificate if the team meets criteria for at least 7 of the 10 exercises at that level.
The 10 Essentials
When hiking, there are 10 essential things everyone should carry on every hike, no matter how short or long. Those 10 essentials seem simple and common sense to many, but they could save your life. Go ahead and Google to see what they are!
For our cooperative care work, we also have 10 essentials. These are what I consider the 10 central husbandry skills for dogs. These are the skills I consider most common and most important. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, but it is an excellent, well-rounded foundation for your cooperative work.
The 10 essentials for cooperative care are: 1) chin rest; 2) lie on side; 3) restraint; 4) wear a muzzle; 5) foot handling; 6) mouth and teeth handling; 7) taking medication; 8) tolerating an injection or blood draw; 9) eye exam; 10) ear exam.
Once you have introduced the 10 essentials, you can work through the levels and systematically add challenge and complexity to each skill. We have set this progression up to be logical and reasonable. Once you and your dog have worked through all 3 levels, you should be ready to face almost any husbandry challenge! You will also have laid a strong foundation for any sort of procedure that your dog might need in the future. By developing trust, clear communication, and a strong reinforcement history, your dog will become comfortable doing whatever you ask.
In order to earn a certificate at each level, you and your dog must demonstrate competency in at least 7 of the 10 exercises.
Cooperative care works for tiger blood draws!
Imagine what it can do for your dog…
CCC Teaching Cooperative Care Using Positive Reinforcement & Classical Conditioning
Those who work closely with non-domestic and exotic species know the advantages of teaching husbandry behaviors using positive reinforcement and classical conditioning. Providing proper physical care to these animals requires the utmost in thoughtfulness and caution.
Trainers and keepers work on a daily basis to make sure that the animals in their care receive all the training necessary to make routine veterinary examinations and procedures as safe and easy as possible.
Learning this, I came to realize that we neglect teaching cooperative care to our dogs. Many dogs are willing to tolerate a lot of physical force and handling with minimal complaint. This means that we get away with pushing them into procedures without the proper preparation.
Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.
Cooperative Care training helps build:
It’s much kinder to our dogs, and easier overall, if we put thought, time, and effort into preparing them for typical grooming and veterinary procedures.
Zookeepers and trainers typically work daily on small skills that will make necessary care easier. These skills become part of the day-to-day routine for their animals.
The more familiar animals are with husbandry behaviors, the more comfortable they will be with necessary care.
We owe our dogs that level of preparation and care. In addition to conditioning them to passively accept certain types of handling we can also encourage them to actively participate in their own care.
We can incorporate the concept of consent and acceptance both by reading our dog’s body language and by teaching them specific behaviors that indicate their comfort with procedures.
Our ultimate goal is for our dogs to become full partners in the care process.
This means that we work hard to gain their trust and cooperation, and we listen when they tell us they are anxious or uncertain. We want to be a stable and trusted partner when our dogs are scared or concerned. Building a strong bond of trust with our dogs will put us in a position to comfort and reassure them when difficult or unpleasant things must be done.
Working towards earning a Cooperative Care Certificate is really working toward a stronger and more secure relationship between you and your dog. It’s one of the best things you can possibly do for your dog.
CCC provides an attractive option for handlers who want :
Structure for Training
Evidence of Success Teaching Behaviors
and take a look
at our program
We have worked hard to design a comprehensive program that covers the essential skills your dog needs for grooming,
vet care, and life.
Do you want to join us?
Register your dog and get started!
Passing TEAM CCC Level 1 Run
If you’d like support in your training journey, join the Facebook group: Cooperative Care with Deb Jones. There you will find more information and tons of support as you work through the exercises!
Register with Fenzi TEAM Programs
Ready to submit a test or register your dog?
Create an account, add your dog, and then you can submit your video for review. Judges will examine each exercise carefully, and give each a “pass” or a “not yet” rating, and share their feedback.
To Register Your Dog
To Submit a Video
Check out these helpful videos!
Pill Taking Protocol
Most dogs will, at some point in their lives, need to take medicine. Giving your dog a pill is so much easier when they take it willingly!
Chin Rest for Muzzle Training
A chin rest comes in handy in all sorts of cooperative care! It’s an excellent foundation behavior before beginning muzzle training, for example — it makes everything else easier!