How To Keep A Dog Calm During Professional Grooming
Keeping a dog calm and comfortable during a professional groom is extremely important for achieving a safe and accurate cut.
A new and strange time full of noises and equipment, dogs that haven’t visited professional groomers before may not be familiar with these surroundings, resulting in anxious behaviour.
Ensuring the dog is comfortable in its surroundings is vital to creating an effective and productive professional grooming session.
If you want the finished result to be as flawless and stunning as possible, it’s important to meet the needs and requirements of the dog during the grooming process.
Whether you’re taking your dog to the groomers or doing the grooming, read on for tips on keeping dogs calm to minimise discomfort for your dog.
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Allow them to explore the equipment
Making sure that your dog or client’s dog feels safe in your hands is the only way to build a trusting relationship with them.
The grooming salon can be stressful and worrying for dogs, so making them feel at ease is the only way to help them feel calm and ready to be professionally groomed.
Encourage the dog to explore the equipment for themselves, then allow them to sniff and make contact with it, so the whole experience is positive.
Calm and happy dogs are the best dogs to groom, so it’s important to take baby steps when first introducing a dog to the grooming salon for positive future grooms.
Familiarise the dog with the equipment
Fear of the unknown can put people off trying new experiences, which is no different for dogs.
To make grooming easy and enjoyable, create a familiar environment where the dog feels like they have control.
Start by letting them sniff the equipment you’re planning on using and try it out on the dog beforehand so that it doesn’t come as an unwelcome surprise.
Turn the clippers on and off to allow the dog to get used to the noise, then start by rubbing them down their body side-on to get them used to the sensation of the vibrations and mimic the action of the groom.
When brushing, you can apply this same process, running the bristles over the dog’s back without penetrating the fur to prepare the dog for what’s to come.
If it is one of their first few times in the salon, take it at their pace and follow their lead – after all, the customer is always right!
If you have a dog that is particularly nervous around professional grooming equipment or doesn’t deal well with the whole experience, treats are an ideal way to reward them for allowing you to groom them.
When they stand or sit still and allow you to manoeuvre them as you need, reward them with verbal praise and a stroke. Your dog will begin to connect remaining calm with rewards for more relaxed grooming.
For dogs of a nervous disposition, ask the owner’s permission to give them food treats to encourage the continuation of good and obedient behaviour. Eventually, grooming will become much less of an ordeal for the dog.
Only reward the dog when it is calm and still and as the dog gets used to the process, extend the time between treats, continuing to reward its behaviour.
Take a break
If the grooming process becomes too much for the dog, it’s important to recognise this behaviour and stop grooming.
Important when trying to gain trust from a dog, they need to know that the grooming will stop when they’re not comfortable.
By gradually introducing the grooming process to the dog, breaks become less frequent and eventually won’t be needed.
Groom little and often to build trust and only extend grooming sessions when the dog is completely relaxed.
Stop when it becomes too much
Alongside taking breaks, it’s important to acknowledge when things become too much for the dog.
If the dog you’re grooming pulls away, or becomes restless or distressed, it’s time to acknowledge this body language and stop grooming.
Continuing to force the process will cause further frustration and potentially undo all of your time spent helping the dog stay calm.
Relaxing music/ Familiar sounds
If you have nervous or unsettled dogs visiting your salon, ask their owners for something familiar to help calm them.
Whether it’s the music they hear at home or noises they’re used to, relaxing, familiar sounds can help a dog relax and distract them from stressful situations.
Walk to the salon
Some dogs find travelling in the car a traumatic and uncomfortable experience. From nerves to travel sickness, it’s probably best to leave the car at home if your dog is a nervous traveller.
If the grooming salon is within a manageable walking distance, walk your dog to the salon to relieve them of any pent up energy they may have before their grooming session.
If this isn’t plausible, allow time for play in the waiting room to shift your dog’s focus away from what’s ahead of them.
To make sure you always have something to hand to help defuse stressful situations, browse our stress management products. From calming sprays to shampoos, there’s something suited to all anxious dogs in our range.