How to Brush a Scared Puppy

Easy
5 - 15 Minutes
1 Day

Introduction

Brushing a scared puppy can be a sad experience for you and a traumatizing experience for your little guy. There could be a myriad of reasons for your puppy to be terrified during brushing sessions. The only thing you truly need to understand is how to make him feel comfortable. Conditioning your puppy to enjoy brushing and understand that he will be rewarded throughout the process will help get him to a place where he not only tolerates brushing but is no longer frightened. Take brushing strategy to a new level by turning your grooming sessions into training opportunities that include the same rewards your little guy gets for behaving well any other time.

Dog's Perspective

You may not know why your puppy is scared of brushing, but he could have had a bad experience in the past or it could be simply that he doesn't understand what's happening because he's so young and hasn't been handled enough in such a way. Consider reward-based grooming sessions so your puppy focuses more on the good instead of his fears and anxieties.

The Conditioning Method

Effective
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Slicker Brush
Pin Brush
Comb
Step
1
Puppy treats
You want your puppy to know brushing is a safe activity, so be prepared for every brushing with tasty treats and a positive attitude.
Step
2
Touch then treat
Start with your puppy sitting in front of you and the brush sitting on the floor between you. Do not touch the brush just yet. Let it stay between you and your pup so he can sniff it if he chooses. Touch your little guy and then give him a treat. Do this on various areas of his body such as his face, his tummy, his tail, and his ears. Do this several times giving him a treat after each touch.
Step
3
Brush
Pick up the brush and let your pup sniff it while it is in your hands. Give him a treat after he sniffs.
Step
4
Brush touch
Touch the brush to your puppy as you did with your hands earlier. Give him a treat each time you touch the brush to him. Touch the brush to him on different areas of his body. Don’t brush him at this point, just touch the brush to his body and treat him for allowing you to do so.
Step
5
Brushing
As your puppy allows, start brushing in small areas, giving him a treat each time you can run the brush through his fur.
Step
6
Build up
It might take some time for your puppy to build up tolerance to brushing, but give him the time he needs to get used to this. Keep practicing each day giving him treats as he allows. Start small and brush more of him each time you work together.
Recommend grooming method?

The Brushing Tools Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Pin Brush
Flea Comb
Comb
Step
1
Show tools
Lay your brushes out in front of you between you and your puppy. Let him look at them, explore them, and sniff them on his own. As he does so, give him a treat for acknowledging and showing interest in the brushes. He’ll begin to understand they are safe and do nothing sitting on the floor.
Step
2
Choose one
Pick one brush, you may only have one for your pup, and hold it in your hands. Again, without moving the brush on your own, let your little guy sniff it in your hand and give him a treat each time he does. Repeat this for each brush or comb you have lying on the floor, holding one at a time.
Step
3
On puppy
Once your puppy is used to the brush or comb in your hand, place it on his body and brush in a small stroke. Talk to your pup letting him know by your calm voice he is safe and give him a treat. Keep moving in small strokes while treating your little guy for patience and tolerance.
Step
4
Start brushing
After your puppy has gotten used to small strokes with the brush, continue brushing him. Keep offering treats, but it might be time to allow more time and more brushing between treats. Be patient and allow time for your pup to get used to brushing.
Step
5
Daily practice
Practice with your puppy each day so he has time to get used to brushing. Every day, spend a bit more time with your puppy giving him a chance to acclimate to the activity and get used to how brushing feels. He may need time to sniff the brushes each time you brush. Be patient with your little guy as he develops the skill of sitting with you while you brush him.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Getting your puppy used to brushing will take some time, so be patient and tolerant of your puppy's behaviors as he addresses his reactions.
  • ¬†Consider using one tool at a time and not overwhelming your puppy with multiple tools such as combs, brushes,¬†and scissors all at the same time.
  • ¬†Do not hesitate to reward your puppy as often as you need to make him comfortable and build up his confidence. Your rewards do not need to be large treats. You can offer him little bites throughout the entire grooming session to ease his mind.
  • Consider making these grooming sessions learning opportunities and keep them short and quick. This might mean at first you're not brushing your entire dog in one session.
  • Break your puppy's body up into different grooming sessions. For instance, the first day only brush one side. The next time you brush your puppy, consider brushing his back or his tummy.
  • ¬†Always let your puppy sniff and explore your grooming tools. This will help him get used to what they are before you use them. As soon as he's done exploring and sniffing give him a treat.
  • Anytime you are brushing your puppy, speak to him with a soft and kind voice. This will help build his confidence and reassure him of his safety.

Conclusion

Your puppy is experiencing a lot in his early days of life. He might be skittish or scared, but you can build his confidence in his great big world by coaching him through the brushing process. He needs to know brushes are not evil. Start pampering your pup with brushes and treats to build up his level of comfort.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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