How to Groom a Scared Dog

Hard
15 - 30 Minutes
1 Month

Introduction

Nothing can be harder than trying to groom a scared dog; they may try to bite, nip, scratch, and are constantly in motion. While not all dogs are afraid of being groomed, the number that are might surprise you. The level of fear can range from mild fear all the way up to and including a full-out panic attack. No matter what form your pup's fear happens to manifest itself, you need to be the one to address his anxiety before it has a chance to become an aggression problem.

There are several reasons why your dog might not enjoy being groomed and becomes fidgety and nervous when it's time for his grooming session. He might not have had enough time to get used to the tools you need to use and the noises they make. On the other hand, maybe your pup had a bad experience the last time he was groomed. The hard part is determining why your pup has a problem being groomed. 

Dog's Perspective

From your dog's perspective, the tools used (scissors, brushes, combs, and electric clippers) can be pretty scary. They are shiny, noisy, and something he is not used to having in his world. What you may not realize is that this type of fear is quite normal, but with the right training and plenty of patience, you can teach him that this type of behavior is neither necessary or acceptable and get him to the point at which he is comfortable with being groomed by you or a professional groomer. Just remember, it is going to take time, effort, and patience to reach your goal. 

The Remove the Fear Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Shampoo
Scissors
Pin Brush
Nail Clipper
Flea Comb
Deshedder
Dematter
Comb
Clipper
Step
1
Gather your tools
Gather up all of the tools you need to groom your pup:, shampoo, combs, brushes, nail clippers, scissors, and electric clippers. Make sure you have everything all in one place, this is not the time to forget anything, as adding new items can impede the whole training process.
Step
2
Place the tools
Start by having your dog lay down on the floor and gently place all the tools on the floor near him. Give him plenty of time to get used to them being there. If he gets up and sniffs at them, let him take his time doing so and give him plenty of praise and a treat.
Step
3
Repeat this
Repeat this process over the course of several training sessions. The more time you can take doing this, the less stressed your pup will be when grooming time comes. You can start doing this when your dog is still a pup so that he grows up around the tools, this will help reduce his stress when it is time for you to use them.
Step
4
Introduce your pup
Once your pup has reached the point at which he no longer seems interested in the tools, it's time to introduce him to each tool one at a time by touching them to his body. If he starts to react to them, calm him down and give him time to get used to them. Once he settles down, give him a treat and plenty of praise.
Step
5
Keep it short at first
Once your pup remains relaxed when you are touching him with the tools, it's time to start the grooming process. Start out slowly and keep your grooming sessions short for the first few weeks. Your dog will let you know when he has had enough. Be sure to reward him with praise and treats. In time, you should be able to fully groom your pup without any fuss or bother.
Recommend grooming method?

The How the Pros Do It Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Shampoo
Scissors
Pin Brush
Nail Clipper
Flea Comb
Deshedder
Dematter
Comb
Clipper
Step
1
Talk to your local professional groomer
If your pup seems to be out of control when the time comes to groom him, and you are not sure what to do, why not talk to a professional groomer to see how they handle this situation. What you are likely to find, is that when it comes to unruly dogs, most pros use a helper.
Step
2
Grab a friend or family member to help
Long before the groomer will bring out the grooming harness, they will have another groomer step in to help. Bear in mind that when a dog becomes aggressive, it can become dangerous both for him and the groomers.
Step
3
Hold in place
The job of the second person is to help hold your pup in place while you groom him. Your helper can help keep your pup calm by holding him gently and praise him using a calm, relaxing tone of voice.
Step
4
Constant speech
The real trick is for both you and your assistant to keep talking to your pup before and during the grooming process. You can be the one to tell him exactly what you are doing (dogs understand far more than you might think). At the same time, your assistant can simply stick to words of praise and gently stroking your pup to keep him calmed down. Between the two of you, your dog will find it much easier to remain calm.
Step
5
Let the grooming commence
Start grooming your pup, beginning at the head and working your way down his front and then across his back, his chest, and his rear end. Take your time and go slowly, allowing your pup to get used to being groomed in short sessions. In time, he will get used to it and may even look forward to being groomed so that he looks his best.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Give your pup plenty of time to get used to the tools you plan to use before trying to use them. This is vital--the more time you take doing this, the less stressed your dog will be during grooming time. Also, be sure to buy high-quality tools. For example, a top-quality set of electric clippers are likely to be far quieter than a cheap set.
  • Start getting your pup used to the grooming tools long before the time for grooming arrives. This way, when it does, he won't be scared of the process.
  • Never force your dog to be groomed, this will only make the problem worse and could lead to many other problems further down the road.
  • If you have tried everything, try talking to your vet as there are several different medications on the market that can be used to help calm him down.
  • Consider using aromatherapy. You might be surprised at how many groomers use scented candles and natural oils in vaporizers to create a calming atmosphere that will help your dog to relax. 

Conclusion

It is very important for you to do your best to determine the cause of your pup's anxiety in order to help reduce it to the point at which he will allow you to groom him without becoming anxious. This process can be challenging at times--it will take time to reach the point at which he is relaxed and calm during the grooming process. Relax and have fun. If you make grooming fun, your dog is far more likely to relax and enjoy it himself. 

Success Stories and Grooming Questions