Grooming is something your canine can’t do without as it’s an important part of his hygiene. However, watching your dog shake or whine as the groomer does the job is heartbreaking even for a pet parent.
Calming your dog down before a grooming session is essential in guaranteeing a positive experience. Even if your dog looks great, has a clean coat and a nice cut after the session, it doesn’t matter if he’s exhausted and feels traumatized.
Don’t let your dog’s fear of grooming manifests itself. You should take preventive measures to address your pup’s anxiety before it turns into aggression. A Dubai pet food delivery service lists down some tips on how you can calm your dog before a trip to the groomer.
1. Take the stress out from the ride
A pooch who arrives at the groomer already anxious will be an extra challenge. Your dog may be feeling stressed about the ride itself or the place you’re heading to.
Through counter-conditioning, you can ease your canine pal’s fear and, instead, boost his enjoyment of riding the car. Counter-conditioning is a technique used during animal training to treat or change unwanted behavior. The goal of this technique is to alter the animal’s response to a given stimulus and turn it into a positive or pleasurable one.
You can do this by giving him his favorite treat at the end of the car ride as a reward. Don’t expect change right away, though. But soon enough, your dog will begin to associate car rides with tasty treats at the end of each trip.
Don’t forget to also talk to your vet to check if your dog’s anxiety or discomfort isn’t related to motion sickness.
2. Identify what aspect of grooming makes your dog uncomfortable
Think outside of the box. Figure out what makes your pooch feel anxious, then look for alternatives. For instance, if your dog gets scared when he’s placed onto the grooming table, look for other options like letting him climb up on his own through ramps.
Even the small changes you make to your dog’s grooming session can have a huge difference in reducing your dog’s stress levels.
3. Let your dog get used to touch
A grooming session often involves handling of your canine’s sensitive areas. This includes the eyes, ears, muzzle, paws, tails, and even the groin area.
Train your dog to feel relaxed with different types of touching. Work with your pooch at home before you decide to take him to the groomer.
- Pair a word like “ears” with a gentle touch on that specific area of your dog’s body. Then, reward him with dog treats during or after saying the cue and handling the area.
- Touch slowly especially if your pooch is sensitive to certain areas like the paws. Start touching areas where your dog is less sensitive such as the shoulders then gradually move to his paws.
- Continue training only when your dog feels relaxed and receptive.
4. Establish the groomer’s place as a happy one
Talk to your groomer and ask if it’s possible to have a training visit without any grooming done. Do something that your dog may like such as playing or going for a walk. If you can, ask the staff to practice handling your dog, then follow up with rewards.
Your first visit to the groomer’s should be to let your pooch get accustomed to the sights and sounds during a grooming session. This involves the noise of clippers or dryers, and the practice of getting lifted on and off the table.
5. Consider using a muzzle
If your dog is an aggressive type, a muzzle can help make grooming easier as well as safer for both the dog and the groomer. Muzzle training can help reduce the need for other kinds of restraint, and protect your canine pal against bite implications. Train your pooch to willingly place his nose into the muzzle by smearing a delightful treat like peanut butter on the inside.
If everything fails, talk to your vet.
The tips above may not work for all dogs. If your training fails to make a dent on your pup’s anxiety levels, seek your vet’s guidance regarding professional training. Your vet may also administer possible medication options to help your dog manage his grooming anxiety.
If you feel that your dog really hates to visit the groomer’s, whatever happens, don’t force your pet to go. You will only worsen your dog’s anxiety, making him feel more traumatized. The key to a good grooming session is to make sure that your dog only has a happy experience.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.