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5 Things you can do to help your dog feel happier about grooming

Updated: Mar 1

As a dog groomer, one of the hardest parts of my job is working with a dog who hates absolutely every second of their appointment. As a dog lover, all I want is to see a dog who’s happy and comfortable and living their best life, so it’s heartbreaking to know that they’re in distress. On a practical level, it also makes our job really, really hard. A stressed out dog usually doesn’t like to stand still, will try to bite the scissors (or their groomer!), will try to jump off the table at any opportunity, will bark constantly, some might even have a nervous poo in the bath or on the table… you get the picture! Not only does this behaviour make our job hard, but also dangerous for your dog. Imagine the aftermath of your dog biting the blade of our scissors at a critical moment, or flinging themselves off the table with such force that the entire 100kg table falls with them. Not to mention if we get bitten, you might be in the position where you have to find another groomer… 

This is why, although we do our very best to make sure your dog is as comfortable and happy as possible during their time with us, a lot of the work needs to happen with you. 

Here are 5 things you can do to help your dog become more comfortable about grooming:

  1. Make it as positive an experience as possible. Utilise the things that make your dog happy to create positive associations. Bring high value treats and reward your dog for getting out the car, coming through our door, and again when you pick them up. Is your dog not a foodie? Tempt them with their favourite toy instead! If you have a dog who hates the car, start here - work on making car journeys more enjoyable in general. 

  2. More consistency in your grooming appointments. Bring them regularly! I know this isn’t what you want to hear (you don’t have the time, you want to save money, etc) but if you don’t bring your dog to regular appointments you’re doing them a disservice. By making regular appointments, your dog has the opportunity to build trust in their groomer, and will start to see grooming as a normal part of life instead of something traumatic that only happens when they’re in a bit of a state. 

  3. Regulate your own emotions. Dogs read our energy and match it. If you drop your dog off stressing, flapping, coo-ing to your dog about how much you’ll miss them… they are going to be pretty worked up too! Try to keep yourself calm and relaxed, tell them you’ll be back soon, trust the process and (to be blunt)...go home! We 100% notice a difference in the dogs whose owners can drop and leave, as opposed to the ones who make a big deal of it. Likewise, when you’re picking up, show your dog you’re happy to see them! If your dog was overdue and had to be shaved down due to a matted coat, try not to get upset or your dog will associate this appointment with those negative emotions you’re displaying. Of course they won’t want to come back next time! We do understand that it can be nerve-wracking leaving your dog with somebody new for the first time, so if you'd like to chat through the process we're happy to do that, but pop in a day or two before without your dog, or give us a call instead.

  4. Be on time! If you’re late to drop off, it’s not going to be a smooth process. We’ll be running behind due to your late arrival so things will be rushed, including the entire grooming process. And if you’re late to pick up, your poor nervous dog is going to be sitting waiting in a crate for you, just adding more negativity to their grooming experience. By being prompt we can have the service done with little fuss, and have your dog back with you where they’re happiest. They’ll soon learn that it doesn’t matter you’ve left them with us, because they know you’ll be back for them soon. 

  5. Put in the work at home. The more handling you can do at home, the more likely they are to let a stranger (us) do it too. Touch their paws, ears, tail, belly. Stand them on a raised surface while you do so, making sure to reward each positive step with something of high value to your dog. Make sure you don’t reward anything that has involved biting, scratching, jumping off the raising surface. Brush your dog daily! This is going to help immensely. If your dog doesn’t enjoy being brushed, don’t give up! If you, their owner who they love, can’t brush them in their safe space at home, it’s unrealistic to expect your groomer to be able to do it in a salon environment. 

All we want, as groomers, is for the dogs in our care to be happy and stress-free, and we know you want that for your dog too. Let’s work together to make this happen as best we can!

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