How much do you hate visits to your dog’s groomer? Are you nervous in anticipation of your dog’s desire to run away, the snapping, the trembling or whining? However you do know dogs can be OK at the groomers because you have seen other happy pups, the groomers have said there are sweet little ones they groom...so where did we go wrong?
Do understand that all is not lost. There are ways we can correct this misbehaviour and show the dogs how to stay calm at the groomer’s.
Let us first understand why this happens.
Like us, dogs too are particular about their personal space and their bodies. When a groomer infiltrates this space, they have no other response but to run away or to snap. To add to this, we also take our dogs only a few times in a year to the groomer’s, so the dog is rarely acclimatised to the grooming spa or gets acquainted with the groomer who touches them in places they are sensitive to. It’s basically like we take ourselves into a place we have not been to in a while and are forced to stay in close proximity to people we do not know or are uncomfortable with and we are not allowed to escape from, either.
Dogs also begin to associate the unknown nail clippers, the noisy sound of hair dryers and sometimes the drive up to the groomers too as an unpleasant experience. Our job is to guide the dogs not to be nervous of the unknown, but to turn those into pleasant experiences.
How do we get the dogs to be comfortable with the grooming experience & the groomer?
- Social visits to the groomer’s will always help. Each visit needn’t be one where they are poked and clipped, but the dog needs to have some happy times at the groomer’s. This will take away the anxiety to enter the drive up to the groomer’s too. If a groomer is not open to such an idea of spending time with the dog to get them comfortable, then it maybe a sign for you to change your groomer. Sorry!
- Get your dog used to being handled. We generally teach our pet parents work on the appropriate way to hold our dogs while at the groomer’s or the vet’s. This helps the dog calm down while we also have better control over the dog. It is also important to desensitize the dog to being touched near its paws, tail, it’s ears, mouth and eyes. This takes consistent practice and not a quick attempt a day before the dog needs to go to the groomer’s. Reinforcing the experience will help the dog calm down
- Desensitizing the dog to the grooming tools. As a quick summary, one needs to offer the dog its most favourite treat whenever the tool is brought out and is in use. This takes time, so let the dog first get used to being around the tools and then once the tools are in use. Remember the dog needs to associate each of these tools with a reward. Always change the location of desensitization too. Sometimes dogs begin to associate the same location with the tools, so it may be good to surprise them with the tools and the treats in a different locations.
- It is important to remember that we must not use negative punishments on the dog. Tying the dog, restraining them or pinning them down will only cause them to snap or lash out at the handler and will make the next visit even harder.
This can be a fun activity for the dog if done patiently and with a calm mind. If you think you will not be able to handle a nervous dog, then seek professional help to figure out the best way to get your dog used to this process