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Cats, dogs, horses and other animals can be taught to willingly participate in their own medical or husbandry care. This 'cooperative care' training involves teaching the animal to not only tolerate such procedures, but even to be an active, willing participant during these experiences.
Until recently, cooperative care was mostly seen in zoos, where large and often potentially dangerous animals were taught to volunteer to be part of events such as blood draws, dental exams, or ultrasounds, without restraint or sedatives.
During cooperative care training, animals are allowed to “say no.” They are taught that they can ask for a prodesure to be stopped, by displaying a non-aggressive, safe behavior, such as turning away from the handler. While it may seem counter-intuitive, when we give animals control over what may be a briefly unpleasant procedure, we can still achieve our goals - but in a way that builds trust with the animal, and allows them to give consent.
This powerful new training approach can be used with any species of animal, and it utilizes training techniques that make the animal feel happy, and safe.