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7 Ways to Get Your Dog to Love Grooming

A couple of years ago, a wonderful older woman on a fixed income brought a tea-cup Yorkie to me begging me to try to groom her feisty tiny one. She thoroughly explained that her little dog had been kicked out of every grooming salon and I was her last hope.  

Her husband was extremely sick due to advanced Alzheimers—bringing Bella to the salon was something her husband always did. She knew Bella was a challenge and offered to have her take a sedative prior to grooming due to her desperation.

I literally could not resist grooming this cute little Yorkshire Terrier.  I knew I had to try for Bella’s mom. However….. it took time to get Bella to love getting groomed.

Plus, Bella was a super special case…..

Bella would shake uncontrollably the entire time she was in the salon.  Her shaking wasn’t simply anxiety, it spawned from her being so incredibly terrified from past grooming experiences.

Her terror caused her to snap and bite to draw blood—WITHOUT ANY WARNING. And she wouldn’t let you take her out of the kennel because she had severe kennel aggression.

It was evident that as her groomer it was up to me to make sure she began to gain confidence and trust while feeling safe and protected.

However, I knew that Bella’s mom needed my help in understanding what Bella needed from her—as a pet parent—to ensure her little Yorkie could learn to love grooming!

On my end, I took time with Bella and taught her how to learn to love being groomed.  Her first few haircuts weren’t the best, I didn’t force her beyond her comfortability, I sweet talked her the entire time and was EXTREMELY patient. Most importantly, I groomed with love.

Fast forward to today and Bella loves to get groomed in the salon. As much as I would love to take credit for Bella’s behavior, I cannot. Bella’s mom was a committed Pet Parent with intentions! She used the tips and tricks I suggested to improve Bella’s belief about grooming. Working with her between

Grooming sessions are definitely what helped save Bella and fully turned her hatred of grooming into one of love.

Luckily I couldn’t have been more proud to see a Pet Parent who truly cared!

Whether your dog is a puppy or an adult, if they hate going to the grooming salon, I will provide you with more than enough info to make your dog fall in love with getting their hair styled and definitely become best friends with their groomer!

What things can pet parents do to make their dog love the grooming salon?

1. Find a groomer that is willing to work with your pup, and works slowly.

Your dog should improve every time, unless your dog is extremely traumatized and aggressive with grooming and groomers and grooming tools.

I understand, finding the perfect groomer and keeping the same one over the course of many years seems impossible.  But take the time to find a great groomer!

If you’re really serious about getting your dog to love grooming, the first and foremost decision you should make is finding someone who seriously cares about your dog as if they’re their own!

The worst thing ever is to take this advice, put it into action and your dog doesn’t benefit because the groomers tactics cause your pet to revert.

2. Talk about grooming in a positive way to your dog

Photo by nrd on Unsplash

This may sound a little crazy, but dogs do understand many words and their groomers name is one of them. I have many doggie clients that know my name! Ask them if they’re ready to see -insert their groomer’s name- about a day before their grooming appointment.

And once they get there, continue to make the association-connecting their groomer to their name. Your dog won’t feel mislead when they head to the groomers believing they were headed to the pet store!

3. Bring treats along for the ride there and back home—choose treats your dog will actually eat

Photo by Marek Szturc on Unsplash

I love to give dogs, who are a little shy or anxious, treats while they are being groomed.  However, I don’t recommend giving dried out, unsavory treats.

The treat has to be enticing enough to make your dog want to eat it, sometimes nerves can prevent them from eating because their tummy may be upset or tightened. So I recommend giving something not many dogs can resist:

·Hot dogs

·Boiled or Baked Chicken Breast or Tenders Cut Up

·Pieces of Steak cut up

·Lunch Meat in small pieces

·Sweet Potato

·Cheese Pieces-or diced

4. Bring their favorite blanket, toy, or shirt that smells like you to stay with them while they’re at the groomers.

Dogs love to have a little home away from home.  Most groomers generally quote a 3-4 turn around on the grooming appointment.  Therefore it’s best they have something from home that they can snuggle up with while waiting to get bathed, dried, or cut can definitely help.

I always recommend bringing their favorite blanket, toy, or something that smells like you that they can lay on.  

Photo by Sara Farnell on Unsplash

My personal dog, Brisbane has extremely high anxiety, and separation anxiety, and does not do well anywhere other than home and outdoors. Therefore he doesn’t do well at our grooming salon.

To combat his anxiety, I bring his actual bed with him and he does just fine knowing that he has a piece of home with him.  Plus, he can sleep comfortably in his bed while he’s waiting for me to finish up for the day. He’s usually with me for a full 8 hours and that’s a looong time for my pup.

5. Don’t take them for car rides only when they are going to the groomers or the vet.

Many dogs are afraid to get in the car because they think they are either getting an examination from the vet or tortured at the groomers.  I highly recommend getting your dog accustomed to getting car rides elsewhere.

Sometimes, just taking them to the park or stores like Home Depot and Barnes and Nobles that allows dogs can make all of the difference.  They will learn that riding in a car can be fun.

Once you can eliminate anxiety associated with car rides, you can eliminate it easily in other instances, especially if it’s not there, to begin with.

6. Have great awesome amazing energy when you drop them off.

Your energy is almost as important as your dog’s when you drop them off to the groomers.  Dogs can feel when you are upset, worried, or scared. Having great energy for your dog is absolutely essential! That is one of the most important things Cesar Millan talks about with dog training.

If you’re not sure about a particular grooming salon, check it out before you bring your dog. Peek in through the windows, go inside and talk about your concerns. Get to know your particular groomer and see if you are comfortable with them or not.

7. Work at home with things your pup doesn’t like at the groomers

Finding time to do anything outside of your busy schedule can seem intense, but working with your pup for at least 1 hour a week can make all of the difference.

Figure out what they don’t like and start there. If they don’t like their feet touched, work on that.  Comb and brush their hair, that’s extremely important. And so on and so forth.

Photo by Autri Taheri on Unsplash

One of the best things when figuring out what your dog doesn’t like is to ask your groomer. They can let you know in great detail, plus they can offer suggestions on what you should do at home with them. They are the experts!

Hiring an animal behavioralist or trainer can also be of tremendous value as well.

Perhaps your dog frightens you at home and you may not feel capable of working them through their particular challenges or issues.

A professional can be the way to go. And they can work with you at home and point out any mistakes you are making or how to make your dog feel more comfortable.

There is so much you can do as a pet parent at home,  to ensure that your dog enjoys EVERYTHING about going to the grooming salon.

In Conclusion,

All In all, there are many things that you can do to get your pup to begin to enjoy grooming. Don’t give up! Efforts such as this take time.

Getting your dog sedated doesn’t always have to be the last resort. But it is up to you as a pet parent to ensure that your pup gets better.  Your groomer is an aid, but not the solution!

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