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Dog Grooming for Nervous Dogs

For many getting your dog groomed can be an increasing source of anxiety, frustration and stress. One of the most frequent issues dog groomers encounter is that many dogs fear being in a new environment or don't like being brushed. Unfortunately, a groom isn't a luxury but a necessity for many breeds.

Does your dog run and hide whenever you bring out the brush or start shaking when you pull up in the car in front of the groomers? If yes, then there are actions you can take to make your dog more confident & prepared when it comes to being groomed, whether thats at home or at your local grooming salon. Read on to find tips to help you & your dog overcome the fear of being groomed.

Why does a dog need to be groomed?

They are often our best friends and a part of our family, especially since Covid-19 and the rise in mental health issues & isolation. Often their needs come before ours.

Most humans will get haircuts to look and feel better, but proper hair/fur hygiene is also essential for a dogs' health & well being.

When a dog has been groomed, no matter what type of coat your dog has, it ensures that your dog's skin can breathe by removing dead skin cells, dead undercoat, knots, matts which then enables ventilation and encourages healthy fur re-growth.

A lack of brushing or professional grooming can cause a build-up of grease, oils, accumulation of dead skin not to mention matting, dead undercoat and in extreme cases pelted fur close to the dogs skin. Pelted fur causes pain to the dog, much like how a Chinese burn to us. When the coat gets wet, as it dries out the matts get tighter and tighter. This can restrict blood flow, in extreme cases then causes bruising to the skin as well as blocked pores cysts and discomfort.

But, did you know that grooming your dog at home or taking your dog to a groomers can actually prevent costly vets bills too and also help to prevent skin conditions? How so you many ask?

This is because the qualified dog groomers (ask to see their qualifications & insurance) are trained to recognise parasites, health conditions and other ailments. They can often spot something whilst conducting a health check before yourself. A fresh pair of eyes helps too!

Grooming a Nervous Dog

It's not just rescued dogs that may be nervous. Many dogs are prone to anxiety, especially around strangers and loud noises. Humans can easily pass on their fears and anxiety too making a dog anxious & leading to behavioural problems. If the dog has had a bad experience before this can also make them nervous, however with a gentle and calming approach, desensitisation techniques and basic training you can help your dog accept being brushed and their paws handled. This will also help the dog being handled by a vet in the future should your dog need a check up.

What you can do to make a positive change

Arrange a meet and greet. This is the perfect time to take your dog into a dog grooming salon to say hello and smell everything. The dog groomer, you and your dog, want to be as relaxed as possible when you enter the salon.

An initial meet and greet prior to the groom might help settle anxieties that you may have also.

You could visit your local grooming salon (arrange this first) at the start of the groomers working day, before any other dogs arrive and the hair dryers or clippers make too much noise.

Let your dog look around the salon. Let the groomer discuss your requirements, this is a chance to ask as many questions as you need to and show your dog around and have a good sniff. You'll leave the grooming salon after having a positive experience knowing that you have helped your dog be more confident (and your fears eased).

Is there anything the groomer can do to minimise anxiety?

A great groomer should be able to demonstrate positive methods that will help ease your dogs' fears. They will have seen it all before.

We recommend taking in your dog's favourite toy & treats.

Keeping a dog occupied is a helpful way to take the mind off scary situations, and the physical effort will also help to keep your dog relaxed and comfortable in these surroundings.

Groomers have a variety of tools and techniques to make your dogs groom a more pleasant experience. Walk away confidently and don't fuss your dog. Groomers know this is is the hardest part for owners, but rest assured your dog is well loved and cared for whilst in their care.

Does your groomer offer grooms over multiple days (such as an introduction package?)

Although time-consuming for you as the owner, could the grooming be done over several shorter sessions? This enables your dog to process the new environment, smells and all the senses they have experienced without overwhelming them.

For example, a wash and blow dry on day, coming back in and being brushed or de-shedded (removal of thick undercoat using special tools), then coming back another day for styling and then another day for nails to be clipped. By breaking down the grooming process, this enables your dog not to feel overwhelmed.

As an owner, what can you do before a grooming appointment?

There are many things an owner can do to reduce grooming anxiety. How about introducing touch into your daily dog training? Touch different parts of your dog, such as paws, eyes, muzzle, ears and tail. Run the hairdryer or hoover in the same room as your dog from a young age, eventually it won't bother them and they will get used to it. This noise is very similar to groomers dryers.

After they become accustomed to these touches & sounds, you can familiarise your dog with brushes, nail trimmers and clippers. Keep praising your dog!

Give them a treat & lots of praise whilst "in the moment" which acts as positive reinforcement.

A course, such as learn to groom your own dog, can increase your confidence as well as your dogs.

Taking your dog for a long, relaxing walk before the dog grooming appointment will really help. Please ensure that your dog has an empty bladder and bowel, meaning less chance of an accident for the groomer to clean up. Some dog treats can also help put them in the right frame of mind.

Make sure your groomer & your dog are bonded

Ultimately, visiting the groomers should be and can be a positive experience. And simple things can be done to make it pleasurable for your four-legged best friend. With each groom, it gets easier especially when working with the groomers and following their advice.

Whats the best top tip from a dog groomer?

The best top tip any groomer will ever give you is please can your dogs paws and legs and try to brush your dog between professional grooms. Remember groomers are there to make your dogs life easier & has your dogs best interest at heart.

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