For people, a trip to the beauty parlor is a luxury and something most of us would love to be able to do more often – and certainly don’t do enough. But for your pet, it can be a terrifying experience. Particularly if they’ve never been before or if they naturally easily get nervous or anxious. Read our guide on how to get your pup more comfortable with dog grooming.
According to a study of 264 different breeds of dogs, 70% of dogs display anxiety of some type, from noise sensitivity to general fear, compulsive behaviors, aggression, or separation anxiety. So, it’s no surprise that a trip to the dog groomers can turn your generally happy pooch, into a worried mess. If you want your pooch to overcome their fear and enjoy the experience of visiting your local groomer, there are a few things you can do to help prepare them for the adventure.
Step One: Recognise the signs
Obviously, your dog can’t tell when they are afraid, but there are sure signs you can look for in their body language. Barking or howling when no one is home is common for dogs who are left alone, but when it comes to getting them in the car or at the groomers, keep an eye out for shivering, running away, or cowering in a corner. It can be also digging, or panting and pacing, excessive licking or chewing. Lifting a paw and looking away could also be mild signs of anxiety.
Step Two: Start at home
There are a few things you can do at home that can help reduce your pet’s anxiety about their trip to the groomer. To start with, introduce your pooch to hairdryers and clippers at home. You don’t have to use these, but certainly, show them to your dog and turn them on so your pet gets used to the sounds. Give them a bath at home, and also consider giving them a massage – this gets them used to being touched. When they head to the groomer, they will need to be touched in between their toes, ears, buttocks, and so on. Therefore, do your best to get your pet comfortable with this.
Step Three: Prepare for the journey
For some dogs, it’s the car ride to the groomer that starts the anxiety. If your pet is afraid of travel, start by putting them in the car with windows down in your driveway for a few minutes. Approach them with a treat as a reward if they cope well. Then, start taking them for short trips, just around the block, and take them without any time you are going somewhere they are allowed. If your pooch is attached to a soft toy or ball, or perhaps they have a bed or blanket they can’t do without, make sure that’s in the car as well. If they suffer motion sickness, this could also lead to major anxiety so talk to the vet about medications that can help.
Step Four: Choose the right groomer
It seems that anyone these days can open a dog grooming business, but if you have a loveable mop for a dog or a pooch with a profuse, highly sheddable coat then you’ll need a highly trained groomer, check their credentials first. Shop around, do your research, check reviews, and give them a call. Tell them any concerns you have about your pet’s anxiety and see if they can reassure you. When properly trained, pet groomers learn to deal with different temperaments and fears. Therefore, if the groomer is calm and knows how to handle stress, your pooch is more likely to enjoy the experience as well.
Step Five: Don’t overwhelm your pet
Imagine you are terrified of flying – and yet your first time in a plane is one where you’ve pushed out the open door, with a parachute on your back, and told to fend for yourself. Imagine the fear. That’s what it could be like for your anxious pet if you force them into a full grooming session too soon. Instead, start slowly – take them to meet the groomer first so they are familiar with the setting. Next, let them have a wash and brush. Take them back a third time for ear hair trimming and nail clipping. And keep working your way up until they get the full pamper treatment.
By taking steps to provide a grooming environment that makes your pet feel safe and secure, you can help to combat their anxiety. If they still have problems, talk to your local vet for other possible solutions.