How to Handle a Dog that Bites
Many groomers come across dogs that severely dislike being groomed and that can get aggressive. Try these tips to avoid being bitten:
- Try not to look into the eyes as this can be viewed as a challenge.
- If the dog is matted, it is quicker and less painful for them to clip out the matts rather than trying to brush. Going short may be a good idea so that the dog is groomed less often.
- Dogs tend to bite when they feel pain, so be gentle.
- Do not put your face near the dog’s mouth and try to not give them any opportunity to lunge.
- Try positive reinforcement by telling them how good they are being.
- Give constant reassurance, talk to them.
- Talk to the owner so that you know the dog’s commands. Use them to stop them nipping at you. Remember not to be cruel in any way, and not to shout as this reinforces the idea that grooming is bad. Instead be firm.
- If your insurance will allow for the owner to stay, ask them to help you keep the dog calm. If not, ask a colleague to help you.
- Allow the dog a break if they become too distressed, and give them lots of attention and reassurance before beginning again.
- If it is difficult to control the dog, you may find that a grooming noose will help, and you should handle under the jaw to ensure the dog does not bite you as you groom the face and neck. Try to ensure that the noose does not distress the dog further. If this is the case, you may want to ask the owner to stay and help instead.
- Only use restraints like a muzzle as a last resort as this again reinforces that grooming is not a good experience.
- Some dogs may benefit from short regular grooming sessions rather than a long one every six weeks. Talk this through with the owner to agree on times and pricing.
Do remember that you do not have to groom dangerous dogs. If you feel too threatened by the dog, stop and let the owner know so that they can get them behavioural help.