A Comprehensive Guide on How to Calm a Dog for Grooming

by Raymond Archambault

It’s no secret that the grooming experience can be a tad bit traumatic for some dogs, even in the comfort of their home performed by someone they love. That might be a rescue pup that becomes jittery about brushes, one with anxiety who can’t seem to remain calm, or a dog that generally doesn’t enjoy the grooming process. Dog owners seeking help on the best way to approach the situation, you’ve come to the right place.

In this guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of how to calm a dog for grooming, whether you’re passing off the scissors to an expert or wielding them in your hand. You’ll learn a few pointers for keeping your furry friend calm while tending to their locks.

Ensure Your Pup Feels Safe About the Equipment

Ensuring that your dog feels safe in the environment where they’ll be groomed is of utmost importance. A grooming salon can trigger worry and stress in dogs, particularly if it’s a first-time visit. Therefore, it’s imperative for them to feel at ease to keep them calm.

If you anticipate that your pup might be problematic, act as though it’s business as usual. Doing so avoids your dog picking up on unusual behaviour that might trigger anxiety. Provide some semblance of authority in the space and encourage them to explore the equipment. That will ease their fears, allowing them to remain calm.

Familiarize Your Pup with the Equipment

Even for humans, fear of the unknown can be off-putting when it comes to trying out new experiences. Likewise, we shouldn’t expect animals to be comfortable with new experiences and equipment right off the bat.

To make sure you don’t have an anxious dog, you must create a familiar setting that also allows a dog to feel like they’re in control. That entails allowing them to sniff the clippers and other dog grooming equipment with which they’ll be groomed beforehand to avoid unwelcoming surprises.

If it’s their first time in the grooming salon, go at their pace and follow their lead. By giving your dog an element of authority in the environment, they won’t feel overwhelmed and intimidated.

Use Treats

Praise and rewards play a key role as calming aids for your dog. If your pup is particularly nervous around grooming tools or doesn’t handle the experience well, treats and praise can be a great way to reward them for allowing you to groom them.

When they sit or stand still and allow you or the groomer to maneuver as need be, reward them with patting, a treat, and verbal praise. By doing so, your pup will make a connection between the grooming process and affection.

Pups that are overly nervous should be fed during the process to encourage the continuation of obedient and good behaviour. In the long run, grooming will become less of an ordeal for your four-legged companion, and they will realize there’s nothing to fear.

Depending on how anxious your dog can get and how much grooming you’ll be doing, it may be beneficial to give your dog a Benadryl to calm them down. Especially if you’ll be cutting hair around the dog’s ears or nail trimming (dog’s nails can be very tricky).

Take a Break

The grooming process can become overwhelming for your pup. If that’s the case, ensure you respect your dog’s responses by taking a break. A long walk can remove them from the stressful situation and calm them down. Doing so allows your pup to gain trust in the process because you don’t ignore their discomfort.

Granted, taking a break won’t be sustainable for each dog that steps into a grooming salon. Nevertheless, by gradually introducing the process, you’ll discover that the breaks become less frequent and won’t eventually be required.

Stop the Grooming When It Becomes Too Much

women bathing a dog

Source: Unsplash

Besides taking breaks, it’s essential to acknowledge when the grooming becomes too much for your pup to handle. If you notice your four-legged friend pulling away, becoming restless, or distressed, that’s your cue to stop the process.

Ignoring the signs and continuing to groom your pup can result in additional fright and frustration. It also has the potential to unravel all your efforts into helping your dog remain calm for grooming.

Familiar Sounds or Soothing Music

If your pup is visibly nervous or restless at the start of the grooming session, familiar sounds or soothing music (you can find on YouTube) can keep them calm for their grooming session. The music or sounds will help your dog detach from the process. It serves as a distraction.

Walk to the Grooming Salon

For some pups, car travel can be uncomfortable. From travel sickness to anxiety, it’s not a great start and may throw your furry companion off track for the grooming session you’ve planned. If the grooming salon is near your home (walking distance) you can take a walk there to avoid disruption.

It’ll allow your pup to stretch their legs, tire them out and get rid of potential anxiety coupled with pent-up energy that might get in the way of the grooming process. It’s worth keeping in mind that this isn’t always plausible so allowing your dog some playtime in the waiting room can take their mind off what awaits.

Heated pet pads and calming sprays also play a role in keeping your dog calm for grooming and delight in the experience.

Massage

When a pooch goes to the groomer, a professional will attend to the areas that require cleaning, including sensitive spots such as glands, groin, paws, and ears. To prepare your dog for this, you can perform a full-body massage that entails gently petting them from head to toe.

Play with their paws and ensure you spread her toes apart. Additionally, play with your pet’s ears and bum. By doing so, you’re relaxing your pooch while ensuring they get used to being handled.

The groomer can also perform a massage on the raised grooming table to simulate the experience that your pet will have at the salon. For dogs that are exhibiting signs of anxiety, they’ll need soothing treats, languages, or a blanket to associate with a pleasant foreign experience.

Exercise

As they say, a tired dog is a happy one. Besides being adventurous, dogs explore the world by peeing on nearly anything they come across. They also require intense exercise. Before taking your dog to the groomer, ensure it has had lots of playtime, including exercise, to burn off any nervous energy and remain calm for grooming.

Aromatherapy

A multitude of groomers has incorporated aromath

erapy in their pet salons. For dogs, it works through conditioning. You can train your dog to associate the great scents with calmness and peacefulness. Aromatherapy dog shampoos contain botanicals ranging from essential vitamins and lavender to chamomile that evoke calmness.

Acepromazine

It’s an OTC nervous system depressant and tranquillizer administered for nervous dogs. Acepromazine functions as a dopamine antagonist. It aids in the prevention of anxiety during groomer or vet visits, thunderstorms, and fireworks.

The effects of the drug last 6 to 8 hours and can combat low blood pressure, nausea, and irregular heartbeat. Nevertheless, before administering any medication, we recommend consulting your vet, who will advise on the proper dosage for your dog in addition to potential side effects. Furthermore, Acepromazine should solely be used as a last resort.

Conclusion

When it comes to grooming sessions, your pooch might have some pent-up tension and anxiety. Therefore, it’s your responsibility to make these sessions a breeze for him by implementing the techniques discussed in this guide. With time, you’ll notice that his fear of grooming turns into a pleasurable experience.

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