There are definitely a few things we haven’t been so successful with when it comes to raising our puppy Penny. Even though we touched her teeth and gums since she was a little puppy, she still refuses to let me brush her teeth with a toothbrush. And even though we’ve had a lot of improvements with loose leash walking, it is still a learning process for all of us. However, one thing we’ve had a lot of success with is training Penny to love wearing her cone. Since she had her spay surgery on Tuesday, and has been spending a lot of time wearing her cone, we’re so glad we spent the time getting her used to it before she ever actually needed to wear it.
The concept of training a dog to like wearing their cone was taught to us by Rob at Super Nova Dog Training Academy, where we took Penny for puppy kindergarten back when she was only 12 weeks old (which already seems so long ago). The theory is that if a dog is introduced to the cone when they’re healthy, and are rewarded for wearing the cone, soon they’ll learn that the cone is a good thing and not something that only comes out when they’re sick or recovering from surgery.
We purchased a ProCone soft recovery collar for Penny from PetLand, but you can also find them on amazon. We bought her a size large, which still seems a little bit big for her right now, but we figured she would outgrow a size medium, and didn’t want to have to get her another cone down the line. The thing I like about this cone is that it’s soft and flexible and not at all stiff like the plastic ones provided by vets. However, these cones aren’t clear so they definitely limit a dogs vision, which may be frustrating for some dogs. I also love that there is a reflective strip on the edge of the cone, just in case we ever have to take Penny out for a walk while she’s wearing it at night.
When we first bought the cone, we just put it on Penny’s bed with her blanket so she could check it out, smell it, and get used to it being around. We opened the cone up several times so she could get used to the sound of the velco. A couple of days later, we started putting treats on top of the cone, which was on the ground, and let her eat the treats. Once she got used to that, we would sit on the couch, with the open cone in our lap, place treats on top of it, and encourage Penny to come over and eat these treats. Without even realizing it, she was lining herself up so that all we had to do was wrap the cone around her neck while she was eating the treats. At first we would just close the cone for a second, give her some yummy treats, then take it right back off. We slowly increased the amount of time we would leave the cone on before taking it off. She never once had a “freakout” with the cone on, and we actually noticed that whenever we would pull the cone out of the drawer she would come running over expecting treats. This was awesome since she had clearly made the association that the cone meant good things for her. The important thing is to not rush through these steps too quickly. The whole process should take a couple of weeks, but could probably be done in as little as a week if need be.
Three days ago Penny had her spay surgery, and although the vet told us she would not need to wear a cone unless she started licking, she’s been spending a lot of time in her “cone of shame”. I remember reading somewhere that vizslas are almost cat like in the way that they groom themselves, and this is totally the case with Penny. I hardly have to bathe her because every time she gets dirty, she will literally lick herself clean. So, of course she’s been trying to lick her incision whenever I’m not looking. She’s actually quick sneaky about it. Whenever I’m watching she’ll just lick her legs or her bum, and then as soon as I turn away she starts licking her stomach. Needless to say I definitely think it was worth the time and effort getting her used to wearing her cone just based on the amount of time she’s been wearing it in the last three days alone!
Have any questions about how we got our girl Penny to love wearing her cone, leave me a comment below!