How to Groom a Difficult Dog

Medium
15 - 20 Minutes
1 Month

Introduction

When grooming time comes around, do you find yourself dreading the day or looking in the medicine cabinet for some kind of tranquilizer? The simple fact is, that some dogs have never learned to relax while they are being groomed--some simply hate the whole process. In most cases, when a dog is behaving like this, it's far more likely due to anxiety than it is him trying to be aggressive. The important thing to remember is that you can teach your pup to relax when its time for grooming. 

Dog's Perspective

Take a moment to look at this situation from your pup's point of view. Suddenly, a person walks up with a stack of shiny tools and places them on the table or grooming stand you are being held on. If this isn't scary enough, one of them makes a loud buzzing noise. This would be enough to scare anyone. You must take the time to let your pup get used to the tools before you try to use them. 

The Grooming Table Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Scissors
Pin Brush
Deshedder
Dematter
Comb
Clipper
Step
1
Buy a table
For this, you will need to purchase the right size grooming table complete with restraints. Be sure the restraint has a quick-release to ensure your pup is safe. Also look for one that puts your pup at a comfortable height for you to groom him.
Step
2
Attach the restraint
Put your pup on the table and attach the restraining loop to his collar. This should keep him in place, but if he tries to jump off the table, the quick-release will keep him from getting hurt. Most dogs will remain still if their collar has been secured to a leash or safety harness.
Step
3
Stay put
Using treats, work on training your pup to remain in place on the table. Start with 30 seconds before giving him a treat. Then work your way up to a few minutes. Be sure to praise him and give him treats as he succeeds.
Step
4
Start grooming
Slowly start introducing brushing his coat in the more difficult areas first. These include around his face and ears, his paws, and his tail. Give him plenty of praise and treats to reward him for getting it right.
Step
5
Complete the job
Turn the clippers on if you are using them and let your pup get used to the noise. If you are using shears, hold them up where your pup can see and sniff at them. Once he is used to it, you should be able to finish grooming your pup. Be sure to use plenty of treats and soothing words to try and keep him calm. In time, he should relax and enjoy being groomed, but if not, the restraint will help keep him in place while you work on him.
Recommend grooming method?

The Sedation Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Scissors
Pin Brush
Dematter
Comb
Clipper
Step
1
Talk to your vet
Talk to your vet about the different types of sedation aids that can be used to help calm your dog sufficiently to allow you to groom him. Your vet can advise you on what type of sedative to use, how much of it to give your pup, and answer any questions you might have. He may even suggest general anesthesia if your pup is that anxious.
Step
2
Test run
Before using the sedative to groom your pup, you should try him out on a dose. This will help you determine how long it takes for the medication to begin working and how long it remains effective. This information can help you plan future grooming sessions.
Step
3
Administer early
Now that you know how long it takes for the sedation to kick in, be sure you give the medication sufficiently early for it to be in full effect before you start grooming.
Step
4
A safe place
Since your pup is sedated, you need to have a safe place to groom him picked out. The last thing you want is for your pup to fall off the grooming table while he is not his most alert.
Step
5
Groom as normal
Now that your pup is nice and relaxed, you should be able to groom him just like you would with any other dog. However, be mindful of how long the sedative lasts to ensure you are done before it wears off. With a little luck and hard work your pup will eventually figure out there is no reason to be anxious while he is being groomed and the sedative will no longer be needed.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Never jump right into grooming with shears and clippers, give your pup time to get used to them first.
  • Start grooming your pup as early as possible, you can even start introducing them to the sights and sounds of clippers, brushes, and shears before they are actually needed.
  • NEVER use dull shears or clippers as they can end up literally ripping your pup's hairs out of his skin.
  • NEVER let the blade on your clippers overheat, as they can get hot enough to burn your pup's skin.
  • NEVER use any type of grooming table restraint that does not feature a quick-release.  If your dog leaps off the table in a restraint without the release, he could be seriously injured or worse.
  • Always talk to your vet about any type of sedative you plan to use and follow the instructions very carefully.
  • Be sure any grooming products you use such as shampoo, conditioner, or detanglers are made for use on dogs. Do not use products made for humans as they contain chemicals that may be toxic to your pup. 

Conclusion

While grooming a difficult dog can be challenging, the most important thing to remember is that he is not the one running the show. Most dogs will defer to their alpha leader. But when your dog becomes anxious and agitated, you may need to restrain him or give him a sedative until he gets used to being groomed by you. Take your time, relax, and work with your pup until the two of you can both enjoy every grooming session. 

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

Grooming Questions & Answers

Question
Tonks
Miniature Schnauzer
Four Months
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Tonks
Miniature Schnauzer
Four Months

Hi:) I’m having a very bad time with any sort of grooming that requires pressure or restraint (I.e. holding her paw to clip between her paw pads, or to cut her nails, or hold her face still for trimming, etc.). Whenever I don’t let her go if she tries to pull away, she FREAKS. OUT.
She starts jerking and tugging and throwing herself around and eventually gets so worked up that she’s hyperventilating. I’ve done ‘de-sensitizing’ work and given lots of rewards, but she gets so agitated that she’s not interested in any kind of food. She’s not a overall food motivated dog, really. She loves to play, and is not aggressive. But when she gets like this she does try to bite...I wouldn’t call the attitude aggressive so much as intensely agitated.
I just don’t know what to do. I’ve never had a dog act like this, and I can’t just NOT do this stuff because it will get out of hand and be even worse for both of us in the end....
HELP. 😅

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Groomer
0 Dog owners recommended

Hi there and thank you for the inquiry. It sounds as though you are doing everything right so far and taking care to introduce grooming to Tonks. You are right, it sounds like she has a fear of grooming which causes agitation. Can you ask at the dog park for recommendations for a groomer who specializes in fearful dogs? The grooming sessions would start out short and easy, gradually building up in length and service as Tonks gets used to the groomer. Once she allows the groomer to clip the nails and cut the fur, she may then tolerate it at home. Good for you for starting the process when Tonks is young. I hope this helps!

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