Today we’ve got a guest blog post from our friend Mike over at K.I.S.S Dog Training. Mike is a leading expert in the field and offers classes and workshops for pet owners to more effectively work with their canine companions. Take a look…
Ah, the dreaded groomer. Many dogs have all sorts of anxieties when it comes to going to the vet or groomer. We’ve got some great tips for you on how to combat (or prevent) those anxieties and make visits more enjoyable for everyone. Take a look…
My Dog Hates Going to the Groomer: What do I do!?
Ok, so your dog doesn’t like his or her nails trimmed, mouth touched or tail messed with He or she hates the hair dryer and could live life happily ever after for the rest of his/her life without another bath. You know it and now so does your groomer…You my friend are reading this because both your groomer and I want Fido to accept, if not like, his trips to the beauty salon. So, with a little work on your end and some patience on the part of your wonderful groomer, I bet we can improve this situation in no time at all. But where do you start? Well first thing print off this article and give a copy to your groomer. After all we want him or her on the same page, right? The Next step is up to you…
Cradle & Massage
I call it “Cradle and Massage” and it is something every dog owner should do with their pups! The earlier we start, the faster we get Fido to like his visits to the groomer (or vet for that matter). Don’t freak out if your dog is 3 or 4 years old; we can still improve the situation, making the visit safer and more pleasant for everyone involved. So, just what is “Cradle and Massage”? It is a simple but effective desensitization program for dogs of all ages in regards to the common “hot spots” most dogs just plain don’t like having messed with, the feet, mouth, tail and ears. Ironically the same spots our unfortunate groomers must touch every time.
This technique will need to be done 3-5 times a week for 10-15 minutes. I want you to get on the floor with your dog, even while watching TV, and simply cradle the dog between your legs and massage each of the above-mentioned body parts, followed by a treat after each part! The goal here is to convince Fido that touch is good (rewarding) and relaxing (kind, gentle touching).
By the time, you get this perfect, your dog should be comfortable lying on their back, being touched and will be totally relaxed. Don’t be upset if you can’t even get close to this description the first time you try this. Take it slow and progress in baby steps. Consistency and being gentle will pay off in the end!
If your dog struggles to get away at any point during this process… Simply let the dog go and reset the process and try again. As the dog gets comfortable this will get easier, but if you hold on, trying to get the dog to submit to you… You are going to simply give Fido another reason to not enjoy or trust this kind of touch….
Take “field trips”
The other thing that needs to be done immediately is to change your dog’s view of being at the groomer (or vet). I want you to commit to taking field trips to the groomer’s or the vet’s at least once a week, (2-3 times a week starting off is even better) and just go in sit in, the lounge and give Fido some treats. Let the staff know what you are doing and ask them to give treats to your pooch as well. After 5-10 minutes or so, just get up, get in your car and go home! The reason for all this subterfuge is simple, the only time you ever take your dog to the groomer (or vet) it is an unpleasant situation (at least in the dog’s mind). By adding these short trips full of treats and rewards, your dog starts to associate the visits as being more positive and less negative.
Treats are Your Best Friend
Last thing, ask your groomer or vet to attempt to give your pooch a treat at beginning and the end of the groom or examination and report back to you whether the dog took the treat. Ironically, one of the best ways to determine a dog’s level of stress or fear (leading cause of snarkiness) is to see if they are comfortable enough to eat. This litmus test is a great way to gauge your progress, not to mention a vet or groomer that gives gifts (treats/rewards) isn’t all that scary anyways. The goal here is not to label, categorize or belittle your dog, but rather to help you his Mommy or Daddy, make his or her visit less scary and hopefully more fun!
I need to be clear though, if you do not put in the work both consistently and frequently, this problem will never get any better and your dog will continue to be fearful and dislike his visits to the groomer or vet. It is up to you, to help, Fido understand the world is a safe and accommodating, and trust me rewards are, in my opinion, the fastest way to get that point across.