Some dogs don’t mind being bathed, clipped, and primped but other dogs become nervous, want to jump off the table, and run. If your dog tries to do the latter, there are ways to help make grooming time a little less nerve-wracking. It’s important to take some preventative steps to address their anxiety before it escalates into a total panic attack or manifests as aggression.
Here are 5 tips to reduce fear at the groomer
- Make the car ride fun – if your dog only associates the car ride with going to things that are scary like the groomer or vet, mix it up a little. Take small trips to the dog park and counter condition your dog’s fear with praise and rewards. Show your dog that not every car ride means it is followed up with strangers poking and prodding and even if does, your dog will get a reward for getting out of the car, for walking into the office, and afterwards when getting back in the car.
- Get your dog used to being touched – if your dog is weary of having his/her ears and paws touched, work with your dog at home to get him/her used to being handled. You can try using words and touch together to let your dog know what area is about to be touched. “Ears” and “Paw” a second before touching and a little moving around will help your dog understand as well as a reward immediately afterwards. Go slowly and remember to make all training sessions fun.
- Make the groomer a fun place to go – See if your groomer is ok with you stopping by when you don’t have an appointment so your dog learns it’s not always going to be a “scary place.” Pair the visit with fun things like a little play time in the parking lot, treats from the staff, and use the visits as a way to accustom your dog to the sounds, smells, and sights of the place.
- Look for ways to make it less stressful – If your dog hates being picked up, see if your groomer has stairs or a ramp that your dog can walk up to get onto the table. Maybe your groomer will even consider grooming your dog while sitting on the floor. If your dog hates having his/her face washed, a wet cloth could be an alternative to the whole shampoo and shower routine on the muzzle and around the eyes. All this can help reduce the stress levels in your dog.
- Worse comes to worse use a soft muzzle – If your dog tries to mouth or gives warning nips to the groomer, a muzzle may be necessary. Muzzle training can reduce the need for other types of restraint and keep everyone safe. However, try the other tactics first as muzzles can sometimes make a dog more anxious.
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Image from Doggy Clips