How to Cut a Nervous Dog's Hair

15 - 20 Minutes
1 Week


You have a dog who may be anxious about everything from every noise to any person or animal who crosses his path. You can bet if your little guy has high anxieties every day, he’s going to be nervous when it’s time for a haircut. The trick to making your nervous dog comfortable during a haircut is to introduce him to the tools and the actions before you dive into cutting his hair. Once he understands these strange looking scissors, brushes, and clippers are not going to hurt him but will instead, provide him comfort when he feels lighter and better with a new haircut, he will eventually begin to lighten up a little--at least when it comes to cutting his hair, if not other things.

Dog's Perspective

Anxiety is a serious disorder for many dogs. It’s not easy for some dogs to deal with grooming tasks because they don’t understand what could potentially happen. These dogs might be nervous about anything and everything, or they may only be nervous about getting their haircut. Either way, take this anxiety seriously and provide your little guy with lots of comfort.

Caution & Considerations

  • When introducing grooming tools to your nervous dog, focus on one tool at a time.
  • Avoid overwhelming your dog with a pile of grooming tools in front of him. He will be unable to focus on the one tool you are showing him because he’ll be worried about everything else in the pile that you are ignoring.
  • Be prepared for the first several times you groom your nervous dog to not get very far in your task. You may need to groom small sections at a time or just get him used to what the tools do and how they sound and feel before you are able to cut any hair. 
  • Never underestimate the power of treats when it comes to making your dog feel slightly better.
  • You can set an ambiance for an anxious dog by keeping lights low, keeping distractions low, turning on soft calming music or sounds of nature, and even diffusing oil such as lavender to create a calm environment.
  • Though your dog may need a haircut, it's more important to give him time to get used to the activity than to have him looking perfect right away. 
  • Consider cutting only areas that must be cut, rather than his whole coat, as you are training him to tolerate grooming.


A scared or nervous dog can be misunderstood. He can also cause you or himself injury during his haircut. The trick to making him comfortable is to give him more control. When he feels in control, he's more likely to allow those scary scissors near him. Introduce him slowly to your grooming tools and give him time to process each task.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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