We know that the whole grooming experience can be slightly traumatic for some pups, even if it’s in their own home done by someone they adore. That could be a rescue dog who gets a bit touchy about brushes, a pup with high-anxiety that just can’t seem to chill out, or just a pup who generally prefers not to be groomed, thanks very much. Looking for help on how to approach the situation? We’ve picked the brains of some experts to offer up guidance.
Whether you’re wielding the scissors in your own hand or passing them off to a trained professional, here are some simple ways to keep fido calm while you (or whoever) is tending to their locks.
Have the Right Supplies & Tools
The Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared,” and the same advice goes for tackling grooming at home. Before you get started, have all the correct supplies and tools ready so that your pup feels confident in your hands (even if your mitts are slightly inexperienced).
Do some research on what works best for your pup’s coif. That includes brushes, combs, and shampoos. If you’re trimming anything, watch a video or two to get comfortable, and know in advance which clippers or scissors you need to do the job.
You’ll gain a bunch of confidence once you feel prepared. Your pup will be more comfortable when they sense that you have a handle on the situation.
Set a Calm Scenario
It’s important to make the whole process a fun, relaxing and positive experience for fido—which is definitely possible with the right kind of mindset.
Janece Curtis, a Rover groomer in Seattle, suggests making home grooming a cozy family event. “I like to suggest making home brushing a daily extension of evening snuggle time!” Watch TV after dinner? Invite your pet up for a snuggle, too. Janece suggests keeping a basket of brushes in a central spot (to make them less scary) and slowly using them on your pup, just for short periods of time. You can also keep treats in the “grooming basket,” which means your pup will quickly learn that brushing = treat time.
If you’re using clippers or other tools, let your pup sniff your supplies and see them before you start trying to put them into action. This slow and steady approach can help ease your dog into the process. You can also stretch the whole grooming process over a few days—for example, you can brush their teeth one day, clip their nails the next, and give them a bath the day after that.
Set Them Up for Success with a Professional Groomer
If you’re planning on having your pup groomed by a professional, and you know they’re a bit on the anxious side, then there are a few things you can do to prepare them. You don’t have to just hope for the best, you can set your dog up for success in what can sometimes be a stressful situation (for both of you).
“Don’t get your pet amped up before a grooming. Go about you day as normal. Your pet companion definitely senses any change in your feelings,” says Nichole Heffner, a Rover groomer in Denver. She suggests taking your dog for a long, relaxing walk right before the appointment (and make sure they pee!), and giving your dog some calming cookies, as these can really help pups with anxiety about grooming.
The tone of voice you use with your dog when you’re discussing grooming with them is also key. Always refrain from apologizing to your dog or acting nervous for them—instead show some enthusiasm and excitement, and they’ll feed off those good feelings. Confidence is contagious, and you’re doing something wonderful for your pup by bringing them in and keeping them healthy, so you should feel good.
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