How to Groom a Dog with Separation Anxiety

Hard
15 - 60 Minutes
1 Week

Introduction

Now that you have mastered grooming your own pup, your neighbor Jill has asked in you would try your hand at her "Little" Bobby, a 100 lb. Alaskan Malamute. Knowing the Malamutes tend to be calm dogs who tend to take things in stride you agree. So, the neighbor drops Bobby off and goes shopping. There is a sudden change in his behavior the minute his human walked out the door. Instead of calm and relaxed Bobby, now you have 100 lbs. of howling, crying, and running-all-over-the-house Bobby.

Known as separation anxiety, it affects a much larger percentage of dogs than you might think, no matter the breed. It can make grooming an incredibly challenging task, but not one that is impossible. The most important part of the whole plan is to remain calm and work with a worried dog to calm him down before you start grooming him. Once you have gone through this process with him a few times, you will find he looks forward to his weekly grooming visits. 

Dog's Perspective

Dogs like Bobby are very much a pack animal. They will live with their pack for their entire life and any time they are taken away from it, they can become very anxious. Separation anxiety is something almost any dog can be trained to get past, with a little help from his new groomer friend. 

The Short Bursts Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Pin Brush
Deshedder
Dematter
Step
1
Start with a few visits first
It pays to start with a few short sessions first. Have the dog's owner leave for just five minutes. Ignore the pup's behavior. When he stops fussing give him a treat. Over the course of a few days, keep extending the time until the owner can be gone for at least a couple of hours. Not only will this give you time to groom him, but it will give you time to form a special "friend of the pack" bond, which will only make grooming easier.
Step
2
Short first sessions
Using the appropriate type of brush, start with lightly brushing one section of his hair. Don't go for more than five or ten minutes. Then stop and give a treat.
Step
3
As he gets used to it
As the dog stops fussing and gets used to being left with you for grooming, you can start extending the amount of time you spend brushing him.
Step
4
Full body workout
At this point, your canine client should be feeling just fine about being left with you to be groomed. Now you can start brushing him completely, beginning at his head and working down his neck and chest. Go down his back and sides and then take a short break. Let him know he is a good boy and give him a treat. Remember, you want this to be enjoyable for him.
Step
5
Finish him up
Finish top side by grooming the rump and tail, then have him roll over. This is a great time to give him a nice belly rub to help create that bond. Then you can finish the job by grooming his belly, his legs, and his paws. After a few weeks of this, the two of you should be best friends, and better yet, he should be over his separation anxiety once and for all.
Recommend grooming method?

The Make It a Game Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Pin Brush
Deshedder
Dematter
Comb
Step
1
Take some together time
As soon as your grooming partner arrives, it's time to divert his attention from the fact his human left him with you. Put his leash on and take him out for a nice walk, let him pee, sniff around, and tire himself out.
Step
2
Play before grooming
When you get back from the walk is a great time to grab a tug toy and play with your new buddy. This will help to build trust and besides, it's just good fun.
Step
3
By now he is ready
By this time he has probably already forgotten to be anxious about the fact his human isn’t there. This doesn't mean he has forgotten them, just that he is having too much fun to worry about it.
Step
4
Start at the top
Give the pup a nice treat and then using a brush, start at the top of his head, catching his ears, muzzle, chin, down his chest, and then down his neck.
Step
5
In the middle
Work your way down the back and sides, ending up at his rump. Using a soothing voice gently work around his anus and genitals. This is a good time to give him a treat and let him know how proud you are of him.
Step
6
On the flip side
Finally, have Bobby lie down and roll over, give him a good belly scratching and then brush out his belly, his legs, and finally his paws. Now if you are lucky, the two of you can have just a little more playtime before his person comes to pick him up. Repetition will only make things get easier and easier until he has forgotten all about his separation anxiety.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Always work with the dog's owner to ensure they are okay with your methods.
  • Never punish or yell at the dog because of his anxiety, this will only make it worse.
  • Take your time preparing the dog for grooming.
  • The more time you spend making "friends" with the pooch, the less anxious he is likely to be.
  • The longer (in terms of total number of grooming sessions) you work with him, the less he is likely to be anxious.
  • Never force the pup to do anything using physical power.
  • Take your time grooming him, use short sessions at first and lots of treats. The more you make friends the less worried he will be when his human leaves.

Conclusion

Grooming a dog with separation anxiety can be challenging. It is up to you to divert his attention away from the fact his human has left him with you. The more time you invest in this at first, the easier grooming him will be and the more times you groom him, the more he is going to trust you. Take your time, be patient, and you will gain a new furry buddy. 

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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