How to Groom a Small, Anxious Dog

Medium
10 - 20 Minutes
2 Days

Introduction

If you have struggled with your small and anxious dog each time he needs to be groomed, it might be time to think about how to make him more comfortable so your grooming sessions are easier. Does your small dog often whine, cry, bark, or nip at your fingers or the tools you are using while grooming, or even pee all over your grooming table when it's time to be brushed or have his haircut? If your little guy does this, he's an anxious pup and grooming is not his favorite task. Remain calm and set him up for better grooming sessions to come.

Dog's Perspective

It doesn't matter why your little guy is anxious and scared each time you bring out of brush or a pair of scissors. The reality for him is this is not his favorite thing, and he would rather do just about anything else than to be groomed. Do not underestimate the power of treats, a calm voice, and tons of patience.

The Calm Environment Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Scissors
Pin Brush
Comb
Clipper
Towel
Step
1
Set the stage
Before you begin any grooming, prepare the area for a calm and relaxing session. Play soft, quiet music, which has been known to relax humans and animals alike. If you diffuse essential oils, diffuse something that will calm you and your dog such as chamomile or lavender. You can also light candles or burn incense a safe distance away from your dog.
Step
2
Prepare everything
Lower your stress level and your pup's stress level by preparing everything you need in advance. Along with having the environment calm and relaxing, bring any tools you need such as combs, brushes, scissors, clippers, and even treats to the area before you bring the dog over. Consider bringing a towel for your dog to stand on to catch any falling fur.
Step
3
Start grooming
Bring your little guy into the area and begin your grooming session. Start by giving him a treat to make him comfortable.
Step
4
Tools
Let your little guy sniff the grooming tools you plan to use one at a time. As he gets to know them, give him a treat each time he acknowledges a tool.
Step
5
Getting used to tools
Try to use only one or two tools for one grooming session at a time. This might mean you are only brushing and combing and not using scissors or only using scissors and a brush but not clippers for the first several sessions.
Step
6
Place tools on his body
Hold one of your grooming tools up against your pup's body in different areas, and give him a treat after each time he lets you do so. So, hold a brush up against his leg and give him a treat. Then hold a brush against his side and give him a treat. Do the same for his ears and his face, as well as his tail, treating him after each time you've placed the brush on him.
Step
7
Begin session
Once your little guy gets used to the grooming tools, start grooming him. Start slow and groom only small sections at a time. Use a soft voice to talk to your pup and keep your first several sessions short.
Step
8
Give it time
With lots of short sessions, your little guy should ease into grooming naturally. He’ll understand the tools won’t hurt and he’ll be rewarded for sitting still while you groom.
Recommend grooming method?

The Sleepy Time Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Scissors
Pin Brush
Nail Clipper
Comb
Step
1
During naps
Start your grooming introduction during naptime. If you quietly start brushing your little guy while he’s sleeping, you might be able to brush a small area before he even notices.
Step
2
Before bed
Each night before your pup goes to bed, give him a treat and do something grooming related. Make this simple and short. You can brush him, trim a bit of fur, wipe his ears, or even trim a few nails while he’s sleepy. Make him comfortable in his bed and start with a petting before moving to grooming. Avoid doing too much at once.
Step
3
Ambiance
Make the area quiet for grooming. Set the ambiance with soft music, essential oils, and low lights, though bright enough for you to see if you are clipping or cutting.
Step
4
Massage
Start off your grooming sessions with a gentle massage. Begin by petting your little guy then massaging his thighs and torso. When he’s relaxed, start one short grooming session. Make sure you are only doing one grooming task at a time. Try not to overwhelm your tiny pup with multiple tasks when he’s relaxed.
Step
5
Treats
Reward tolerance with lots of treats.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • There are tricks you can use to coax your dog through each grooming task.
  • Treats throughout grooming instead of only at the end of each session might help keep your pup focused or even distracted long enough to get your task done.
  • Your little guy will pick up on your lack of patience. So, for his sake and yours, watch your tone when you're talking to him, and try to remain calm, quiet, and patient.
  • As with humans, dogs can find healing and comfort through music. Whether you choose to play soft classical music, sounds of nature, or just sing to your little guy, you might be surprised at how calm he can be with soft music playing in the background.
  • Your small dog might have built up anxiety from past grooming sessions. Every time you groom your little guy introduce him to your grooming tools one at a time. Do not overwhelm him with a lot of tools and reward him as he explores each one.
  • Build up your small dog's tolerance to grooming by doing small sessions one at a time.

Conclusion

His bite can be as big as his bark if he's nervous and scared, so calm your anxious small dog with slow and short grooming sessions. A soft gentle voice will let him know he is safe. Don't worry about pampering your pooch just yet, focus more on making him comfortable first.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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