Some dogs love being groomed, while others are frightened of the experience. Rescue dogs, in particular can be prone to dog grooming anxiety. Fortunately, there are multiple strategies that puppy parents and professional groomers alike can use to soothe nervous pooches.
Give a relaxing massage
A relaxing massage is a good way to get nervous dogs accustomed to being handled. Well before anxious pups get inside dog grooming tubs, they should be gently petted from head to tail. Be sure to pet the dog all over, including the sides, belly, legs, and feet. Get the dog accustomed to having the toes spread apart, which will help make nail trims seem less frightening.
Gradually introduce dogs to bathing equipment
Just like people, some dogs are fearful of the unknown. They may begin to panic when lifted onto unfamiliar grooming tubs, for example. It’s helpful for puppy parents to introduce their dogs to bathing equipment beforehand. Place a clean towel on top of a table and lift the dog onto the table. Pet the dog and offer reassurance that a table is a safe place to be. It can also be helpful to dampen a washcloth and run it over the dog’s fur to get the dog accustomed to getting wet.
Many dogs are fearful of loud noises, such as hairdryers. Professional groomers and dog owners alike might consider putting a Thunder Shirt or similar comforting item on the dog. Place the hairdryer at least a few yards away from the dog and have someone else turn it on while you continue to pet the dog and offer reassurance. A few treats can be helpful, as well!
Gradually, move the hairdryer closer until the dog is comfortable with having it right near him or her. However, turn off the hairdryer right away if the dog shows signs of distress. It may take several training sessions to acclimate a dog to the sound.
Do a dry run at the groomer’s
Some professional groomers have dog owners bring their nervous pets in for a practice visit. During this visit, the dog isn’t actually groomed. Instead, he or she simply gets accustomed to the sights, smells, and sounds of the new surroundings. This helps the dog associate the groomer’s office with positive feelings and memories (especially if the dog receives plenty of treats during the visit)!
Identify anxiety triggers
For some dogs, even doing dry runs at the groomer’s isn’t enough to dispel anxiety. These particularly nervous pups may have specific triggers that cause them to feel anxious. For example, some dogs can’t stand to be lifted up and placed on a table or in a grooming tub. In these cases, it’s very helpful to have grooming equipment that features a removable or swivel ramp. The dog can walk up the ramp by himself, allowing him to feel more in control of the situation.
Other dogs might be scared of the noise and vibrations of the hair clippers. First, let the dog sniff the clippers while they are turned off. Then, turn on the clippers and gently touch them to the dog’s back before beginning to use them. This can help the dog get used to the sensation.
The right equipment makes dog grooming easy
A professional grooming tub is a must-have in your practice, and the tubs available from Direct Animal are ergonomically designed with the needs of busy professionals in mind. Call today to discuss your business’ vet and grooming equipment needs.