Grooming is an important part of owning a dog. It helps remove loose fur, prevents their coat from getting knotted, and it can also help to minimize shedding around the house. However, it can turn even the calmest owner into a nervous wreck. Unfortunately, these emotions tend to get passed down to the dog, too, which only serves to make things worse.
Ideally, you should start grooming your dog when they are a puppy because this will get them used to it, as well as you. If you haven’t been able to train your dog for grooming sessions, or if you still need ways to calm your dog during the grooming process, try the following steps.
1. Keep Calm Surroundings
Dogs can get agitated by the sound of the doorbell, a loud TV, or the noise of kids running around and playing. Try to choose a quiet day, a quiet time, and a quiet location during which to conduct the grooming process. By instilling this sense of calm early, you are setting yourself and your dog up for greater success.
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2. Stay Calm
Remember that your dog picks up on your emotions. If you’re feeling anxious about grooming, it’s understandable, but you need to ensure that your dog does not pick up on it. Calm yourself down before you start. The worst thing that can happen is that you fail to groom your dog and you have to try again another day.
3. Treat It Like A Normal Day
Your dog is also tuned in to what is happening around them. They have a good idea of a normal daily routine, and when you start to do things out of the ordinary, they pick up on this. That’s why dogs know that you’re planning on going away or getting them ready to go to the vet. Carry on with your day just like any other day and only get your grooming head-on when it is time to start that task.
4. Let Them Sniff
Get the clippers, brush, and other equipment out, and let them have a sniff. If they’ve never seen the brush before and you disappear behind them with it, they are going to be curious. If you don’t allow them to answer their curiosity, they will become anxious. Let them sniff everything before you start and while you’re grooming, where possible. When you start, start by brushing with the back of the brush. This will get them used to the sensation of you brushing them but without the feeling of their hair being pulled.
5. Wait Until They’re Settled
Once you’ve grabbed the equipment and let them have a sniff, let your dog settle down before you start. Sit next to them on the couch, with the TV on (if this is normal behavior), and start brushing when they look relaxed. The key is to ensure that it feels like any other day and experience for your dog.
6. Stop When They Get Agitated
If your dog does get agitated, don’t stress. Remember that it happens to the best of us, including professional groomers, from time to time. Down tools. Stop and wait until your dog has calmed down before trying again.
7. Reward Them for Calmness
To instill good behavior, you should find some way to reward it. Use healthy treats or lavish them with praise when your dog behaves calmly and in a relaxed manner. Don’t go too over the top or they may work out that something is amiss.
8. Try Anti-Anxiety Medication
If all else fails, you can turn to anti-anxiety medication, prescribed or over the counter. You should consider this a last resort, and remember that there are natural and healthy alternatives to prescription medication out there. However, these supplements will calm your dog so that you can get on with the task of brushing, trimming, and grooming.
9. Seek Professional Help
If it seems like a lot more trouble than it’s worth to groom your dog yourself, consider paying for a professional groomer. As well as those with a grooming parlor, there are also mobile dog groomers who will come to your home or work from a van outside your house. This not only ensures that your dog enjoys a good grooming session, but they should be less anxious if it takes place in a location that they know.
Keep Your Dog Calm While Grooming
Remember that the more often your dog is groomed, the more accepting they will be of it. It can be very tempting to leave it as long as possible if it is a difficult process, but this will only serve to make matters worse. Turn it into a positive experience, reward your dog for calm behavior, and remember that there are tools, as well as professional groomers, out there that can help with the process.
If you don’t manage to groom your dog today, just remember that you haven’t failed: you can try again tomorrow.
Featured image credit: Mylene2401, Pixabay