All dogs are different and whilst some are happy to be pampered, grooming can be a stressful experience for some pooches. In fact, when we asked our resident groomer, Dyane Fletcher, from Bright Eyes dog grooming in Leeds, about this, she said, “one of the most common questions pet owners have is how to keep a dog calm while grooming?”
It’s important for several reasons; obviously, you don’t want your pet to injure himself or bite the groomer, plus it may cost more and take longer to groom a difficult dog.
With that in mind, this article will give you some tips on how to calm a dog while grooming making the process less of a nightmare for your dog both at the salon and at home.
We will cover:
Make a Visit to the Grooming Salon a Positive Experience
Start grooming early
If you buy a puppy with a high maintenance coat, for example, a Poodle mix, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier or Schnauzer, then as with any puppy, it’s a great idea to introduce them to as many sights and experiences as soon as possible and this includes visits to the grooming shop.
Most professional groomers will have introductory sessions for puppies to get them used to the equipment and maybe give them a brush over.
Make these trips as fun as possible, make lots of fuss for your puppy being a good dog, feed a treat or two.
You can get your puppy used to being handled from day one, examine their ears, hold their paws while using soothing languages and make regular brushing something they enjoy.
Travelling to the groomer
Some dogs love a car ride, whereas others find it extremely stressful; this isn’t helpful if they are already anxious before the groomer even starts; try walking your dog to the grooming shop instead not only will this relieve their car anxiety, it will get rid of some excess energy which can help keep your dog calm while grooming.
Talk to your groomer.
It’s important to let a professional groomer know there may be issues if you have a nervous dog; not only will this prepare them, so they don’t get nipped, but they can take measures to ensure your pooch stays calm during grooming or even have an assistant on hand to help.
Gather Before You Lather – Supplies You May Need
If you’re grooming your dog at home, it’s a good idea to have everything you need to hand; there’s nothing worse than trying to keep hold of a wriggling dog trying to climb out of the tub then realising you’ve left the shampoo downstairs, below are a few things you may need when grooming your pup at home
There are countless options when it comes to quality dog shampoo; choose one specifically formulated for your dog’s requirements; puppies may need a gentle tear-free option; there are ones for itchy skin, some eliminate odours and others help with shedding.
Not all dogs require a conditioner, but if your canine companion has long or thick hair, it will help reduce mats and make grooming much easier.
A Towel or Drying Coat
If you don’t want to end up with yourself and your home drenched, you’re going to need a towel, soft microfibre ones are better than regular towels as they absorb more moisture and you could even invest in a good dog drying jacket or coat, so Fido can sit and relax whilst drying out.
Brushing before bathing will help remove loose hair and debris from your dog’s coat, along with teasing out any tangles which will become worse when wet.
Treats overcome many stressful situations; having some on hand during the grooming process will develop a positive association for your pet.
7 Tips for Grooming a Nervous Dog at Home
Take baby steps
If you don’t want your dog to get overly stressed, take it slow, keep grooming sessions to a few minutes at first so your pup can slowly adjust, perhaps give them a full body massage after a bath. Most dogs don’t like loud noises, so introduce noisy tools like the hair-dryer and clippers slowly.
Invest in a dog grooming table
If you have an anxious dog, it’s vital to keep them secure during the grooming process; you don’t want them struggling and trying to escape when you are using sharp implements like scissors and clippers. A raised table with a non-slip surface and grooming arm will enable you to have both hands free and prevent your pooch from injuring themselves; they will also feel more secure.
Play calming music
Studies have shown that playing classical music can calm anxious dogs; you could also try soothing sounds like a babbling brook or birdsong, it may seem like a long shot, but if your dog suffers from anxiety during a grooming session, it’s worth a try.
A dog’s world revolves around smells, so it makes sense to use essential oils to keep them calm during grooming; below are some of the most popular scents you can use in a diffuser to help Fido stay calm in stressful situations.
- Clary sage
- Sweet Majoram
- Ylang Ylang
Take Fido for a walk.
Taking your dog for a short walk before the grooming routine, not only will this let them relieve themselves, but it will also get rid of excess energy, absolutely essential if you have a nervous dog that is going to be wriggling and trying to escape during the grooming session. We’re all familiar with the saying, ” A tired dog is a happy dog.”
It’s tempting to get the grooming experience over and done with as quickly as possible if you are one of the many dog owners with nervous dogs; however, both you and your furry friend will benefit from a few breaks. To keep your dog in a calm state, gently pet them between processes; for example, after using the blow dryer, let them stretch their legs, give them a massage or a treat.
Using cuddles, praise and treats during the process will make for a positive grooming experience. One of the top tips for bathing your dog at home is to use a licky mat with peanut butter stuck to the wall at head height to keep your pup distracted as you scrub.
What Can you Give Your Dog to Reduce Stress during the Grooming Process?
There are many things you can buy in pet stores or online which will help to keep your dog calm for groomer visits. There are collars, sprays, plug-ins and tablets, many of which use natural products to relieve extreme anxiety in dogs.
How do I stop my pup from biting during grooming?
The best way is to accustom your dog to the process from an early age by taking baby steps; however, if you have adopted an older dog that is not used to a grooming salon or the grooming equipment, it can be more difficult and you may need a muzzle. Try to use it for only a short amount of time, though, as it may make your pooch detest the grooming equipment even more.
Does it cost more to groom a difficult dog?
Some groomers don’t have the professional skills to cope with particularly difficult dogs, so it’s always best to talk to them first and find one that has the experience to keep your pet calm during grooming if it’s going to take much longer than a regular session then yes you may have to pay extra for a difficult dog.
My Cockerpoo is scared of the noise of the clippers; what can I do?
First, make sure you buy a quiet set of clippers; some options are much noisier than others. Let your pup sniff and examine them without them being switched on, to begin with, if Fido is remaining calm, you can then switch them on but don’t use them until they are happy. You could also try drowning out the noise with some soothing music, as mentioned above.
Whether you go to a grooming parlour or give your pet a haircut at home, you need your canine companion to remain calm as even the sensitive areas like paws, ears, face and armpits will need to be handled at some point.
This requires you to get your dog used to being touched in all areas from an early age and stay calm. Constantly brushing every day will help, as will at the same time getting them used to the grooming tools; as mentioned above, many groomers will happily let you bring your dog along to introduce them to the sounds and smells of the grooming parlour.
Grooming is an essential part of pet care, especially for dogs with thick, long or curly coats; not taking care of them correcting can lead to many problems such as ear infections, matted coats and skin issues, so keeping them calm during grooming is something you absolutely need to address.
Try some of the tips above to keep your dog calm; whilst your pooch may never enjoy grooming, the good news is, many dogs will tolerate it with a few treats as a reward. Good Luck!