How to Groom a Large, Fearful Dog

Medium
20 - 40 Minutes
6 Weeks

Introduction

Grooming a large fearful dog can become quite the challenge. Your big guy can overpower you and cause you and himself harm or injury if he is frightened by what you are doing while you're grooming. Whether your large dog is simply not used to grooming, a little anxious over lots of activities in his life, or nervous because of all the tools you have for grooming sessions, you can ease him into each grooming task by separating them and doing one at a time and letting him explore the grooming tools you are going to use so he's comfortable with them.

Dog's Perspective

A scared dog who is also incredibly large can be like a bull in a china shop. If your pup is scared, try to ease his mind a bit by giving him more control. He's nervous and extra large in size, which may make him a little more clumsy. Grooming tasks may make him a little more fearful than normal.

The Separate Tasks Method

Effective
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Slicker Brush
Shampoo
Scissors
Nail Clipper
Toothbrush
Step
1
Bathing
Bathing your large fearful dog will be a matter of trial and error. Your dog might enjoy being in the shower with you but may not enjoy an outdoor bath with the hose. Try several different ways to give him a bath without scaring him. Make these baths as quick as you can while still washing him to rid of dirt and odors and rinsing him well.
Step
2
Brushing
If your big guy is afraid of most things he will probably be afraid of brushes as well. The best way to get him used to this grooming task is to introduce him to the action of brushing and the tools you use everyday. Get into the habit of brushing your big guy on a daily basis but always introduce the tools before you do so.
Step
3
Tools
Lay your brush and comb out in front of you let your dog sniff them and reward him when he acknowledges them without fear. Anytime your big guy gets anxious while brushing him, pause, let him sniff the brush, and give him a treat. This will help build his confidence around these tools.
Step
4
Cutting and trimming
Try to separate cutting your dog's fur with bath time and any other time-consuming grooming tasks you take on. Anytime you need to cut or trim your dog's fur introduce him to the tools. Trim your dog's body one section at a time until he's used to this particular task. Be sure to reward him with tasty treats throughout your trimming session.
Step
5
Other grooming
Use the same method for other grooming tasks such as caring for your dog's nails or brushing his teeth. Never do grooming tasks on the same day as another task and always introduce the tools that you plan to use to your big guy before you use them. Rewarding him for acknowledging them is always a good idea and will help him become more comfortable.
Recommend grooming method?

The Repeat and Treat Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Shampoo
Scissors
Nail Clipper
Clipper
Towel
Toothbrush
Step
1
Bathtime
If your large your fearful pup does not enjoy baths, one of the best things you can do for him is to give him a bath as often as is necessary. Though in bathing him often, you may not go through the entire bathing process each time. Some baths only get him wet so he can feel the water and go through the motions. Other baths will require more time because you are bathing him with shampoo and rinsing him.
Step
2
Brushing
Try the repeat and treat method when brushing as well if your big guy is fearful of this grooming task. This might mean you don't brush his entire body every time you brush him but introduce the brush to certain areas of his body by showing him the brush, letting him sniff it and giving him a treat. Once he's been introduced brush on a certain area of the body, give him more treats. Wait until the next session to brush other areas of your pup.
Step
3
Ear cleaning
Ear cleaning needs to happen every week or two. If your big guy is fearful of having you touch his ears, touch them often. Even when you are not cleaning his ears, pull on them, tug on them gently, lift them and look inside, and stick cotton balls in when you can to wipe them clean. Every so often use an ear cleaning solution to get in there for a thorough ear cleaning. Be sure to treat him every time you touch his ears.
Step
4
Brushing teeth
Oral health is not a favorite grooming task for many dogs. If your guy is fearful he's probably not going to want you messing with his mouth very often. For you, this means try to do it as often as you can. Again, you don't have to brush his teeth every single time you touch his mouth, but touch his mouth often and introduce a toothbrush with dog toothpaste on it so he knows when you're brushing his teeth you are not causing harm. Be sure to treat as well.
Step
5
Scissors and clippers
At some point, your large fearful dog is going to need a haircut. At first, you might need to take this in sections as you did with brushing. This might mean you only cut his tail fur one day or his leg fur one day. Take some time and get him used to the tools you use and what they do to him before you tackle grooming his entire body at once.
Step
6
Paw care
Your large dogs visits much of his world with his paws. His paws are going to need to be cleaned and his nails will need to be cut. If he's extremely anxious about this task, feel free to cut one nail at a time over the course of a day. As with all other care, be sure you allow him some time to explore your grooming tools and give him a treat during the procedure.
Step
7
Repeat and treat
Repeat and treat throughout all grooming tasks to make him more comfortable and build his confidence. When your big guy understands the tools you use are not going to hurt him and the procedure you use for grooming is good for him and rewarding, the easier grooming will be on him.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Separate your grooming tasks into individual pieces and do one at a time until your big guy is used to each task and you can begin to combine them together.
  • Try to incorporate simple tasks into daily routines such as brushing.
  •  Always let your big guy explore and sniff the grooming tools you plan to use from your brushes to your scissors and even your clippers.
  • As your dog explores these grooming tools, give him a treat for acknowledging them and sniffing them. This will build his comfort and confidence around these tools, making using them on him easier and more relaxing.
  • Anytime you use a grooming tool such as clippers or a Dremel for your dog's nails, turn the tool on and let your pup hear the sounds it makes and feel the vibration on his skin. Just be careful not to put moving parts near his skin or fur as he's exploring the tool.
  • Remember a soft, gentle tone in your voice and some tasty treats can go a long way in making your large fearful dog more comfortable during grooming sessions.
  • Be patient with yourself as well as with your pup during the sessions as you get used to what he needs to feel comfortable and he gets used to the tasks you need to do to keep him looking beautiful.

Conclusion

Your dog is large and in charge. He's no scaredy cat, but he might be fearful of many things. Take activities slow and ease your big friend into grooming tasks. Challenge him to explore grooming tools one at a time. Once he gets used to regular grooming, he'll give you no problems, paws down.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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