How to Restrain a Dog While Grooming

by Raymond Archambault
Published: Last Updated on
dog during grooming session

As any professional groomer will know, understanding your dog’s aggressive behaviour will allow you to counteract and deal with their aggression in the right way. Dogs are smart animals, which means they’re not being difficult out of spite.

Forcefully restraining your pup can result in them struggling more, and that’s the last thing you need. In this guide, dog owners will learn the ins and outs of how to restrain a dog while grooming and avoid injuries. It’ll also be a pleasant experience for you and your pup.

Understanding Why Your Dog Struggles at the Groomer

Anxiety in dogs is common, especially when going to a dog groomer. Regardless of how your pup’s fear manifested, preventative measures must be put in place before it escalates to aggression. To put things into perspective, if you were suddenly restrained without understanding why, you’d struggle to be released and be overcome by fear. Besides being made to stay still while subjected to bizarre equipment, you’d seize up in fear.

The best thing to do in these situations would be to take control by making your pup feel safe and that they are not being tortured or punished. It’s worth keeping in mind that you should avoid showing fear or faltering. Be firm and confident with your pup while remaining gently. Positive reinforcements work like a charm with dogs and other pets.

What You Need

Here’s a list of grooming tools you need to groom your pup.

  • De-matting and de-shedding tool
  • Cotton stick
  • Dog shampoo
  • Nail clippers 
  • A brush
  • Dog toothpaste and toothbrush 
  • Wireless dog hair clippers

Restraining your Dog

Dealing with a pup that’s constantly snarling, biting, pulling away, or wriggling can be frustrating. However, keep in mind that your dog naturally understands that any form of restraint is a punishment. Therefore, the goal is to make them grasp that it’s not. With that said, let’s delve into a few factors to note before restraining your pup.

  • Comfort is Crucial

Remember to groom your dog on a non-slip mat or table to avoid slipping. When you restrain your pup, don’t force them to sit still by exerting pressure on them. Additionally, avoid restricting their movement entirely. If you opt for restraining tools, ensure you buy products designed with dog grooming in mind. Look for one that easily hoops around your pup’s neck and is a material that doesn’t leave bruises or burns. If necessary, you can resort to a muzzle until your pup gets used to grooming and understands that you won’t hurt them.

  • Be Firm But Gentle

Your dog needs to realize that you’re in control. Keep your grooming sessions short and regular, ensuring you’re implementing a stern but positive attitude throughout. Soon enough, your pup will realize that your goal isn’t to harm them and, as a result, develop a more docile attitude. That will pave the way for hassle-free grooming. Although it can be an uphill battle and a tad bit scary, avoid ending a grooming session when your pup is showing aggression. They might believe that because you’ve halted the session, they’ve won and continue displaying the same attitude with each grooming session.

  • Identify the Triggers

Is your dog in pain? Are they uncomfortable? Why do they struggle so much? Is there anything that particularly reminds them of a traumatizing session? Once you identify the part of the grooming session that triggers panic or discomfort in your pup, you can tackle each issue individually. For instance, if your pup is frightened when you lift them onto the grooming table, come up with alternatives such as stairs or ramps and allow them to climb onto the table without assistance. If the table surface causes discomfort because it’s overly slippery, cold, or warm, put towels or anti-slip mats below them and monitor how they respond. Lightly dampened towels or face wipes can do the trick for pups with an aversion to running water.

How to Restrain a Dog While Grooming

Here are 3 ways to do so.

1. Standard Hold

This hold is a type of grooming restraint suitable for dogs of all sizes and entails two people grooming your pup. While one person holds the brush, the other restrains the pup. Let’s start with the standard hold. This type of restraint is used for all dogs, regardless of size. This technique takes two people to groom your dog. One is responsible for restraining the dog, and the other holds the brush.

To get started:

  • Ask your pup to sit
  • Lightly wrap an arm around your puppy’s neck while being careful not to exert pressure. A slight motion should be allowed but only enough for your pet to look around during pet grooming
  • Wrap your other arm around your puppy’s armpit, right ahead of their hips. Ensure your pooch is pressed against you
  • If your pup is small, put them on your lap for easier grooming. If it is a larger breed, you can do so on the ground or grooming table. Using a calming aid helps too – rub your puppy’s belly to calm them while they are being groomed.

2. Lateral Hold

It also requires two people. A lateral hold mostly comes in handy for squirmy or restless pups. To get started:

  • Slowly lay your pup to their side with their back facing you
  • Using the arm closest to their head, position it on their neck without exerting pressure and grab your puppy’s paws. Ensure your hand holds the right and left paws
  • Put your other arm on their back next to their belly and hold their bottom legs
  • If your dog struggles, this hold easily allows you to keep their legs and head still with your elbow and arms.

3. Overhead Restraint

With the overhead hold, you’ll require an overhead restraint collar. If you don’t have one, two dog collars will get the job done. It’s an excellent technique when you’re grooming your pup alone. To begin:

  • Put your dog on a grooming table
  • With the first noose around your dog’s neck enclose the other around their waist. Hold the noose to the grooming table above your pup. The endgame is to prevent your pup from sitting once it’s hooked. That will make it a breeze to groom your pup and permit easy access to every part of its body.
women holding dog during grooming

Source: Unsplash


How to Keep a Dog Calm While Grooming: The Do’s

  • Choose a well-lit area to groom your pup
  • Assess the surroundings from your pet’s perspective
  • Ensure you use the appropriate equipment
  • Seek professional advice when in doubt
  • Exercise patience
  • Follow a consistent grooming routine
  • Don’t hesitate to use sedatives or supplements if need be but only prescribed by a vet.

How to Keep a Dog Calm While Grooming: The Don’ts

  • Bathing your dog too frequently
  • Using human products
  • Shaving or clipping your pup without proper training
  • Overwhelming your pet with a boatload of things concurrently
  • Cutting your dog’s nails too short
  • Wash the insides of your dog’s ears
  • Immediately brush your dog’s fur when it’s wet as it results in excessive shedding.

The Bottom Line

A clean pet is a happy one. While your pup may not find it delightful, frequent grooming is an essential part of pet care. Aggressive dogs can be difficult to restrain. However, with the right tools and techniques, you can counteract these tendencies and make each session an enjoyable one.


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