How to Groom a Small, Fearful Dog

Medium
15 - 30 Minutes
1 Week

Introduction

Even the most fearful of small dogs, like Lucy, need to be groomed on a weekly basis. Not only is this important to the health of her coat, but it is the perfect time to examine her all over for fleas, ticks, and signs of injury that might need to be attended to by her vet. 

There are many reasons why Lucy might be afraid of being groomed. Some dogs seem to be naturally fearful, for others, it might stem from a previous experience. Give her plenty of time to get used to the tools and to being handled. In time she will come to enjoy the personal touch of being groomed. 

Dog's Perspective

Trying to calm a fearful dog down enough for grooming can be a little like trying to chase down a chicken in the yard. Worse yet, if you try to force Lucy to be groomed, it can only make things worse instead of better. The best way to get her used to being groomed is to take your time, go gently and slowly. Plus, it never hurts to have plenty of her favorite treats on hand. 

The Early Bird Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Pin Brush
Step
1
From day one
When you first bring your dog home is the time when she is going to bond with you and decide whether or not she should be afraid of you. Treat her very gently, rub her head, her back, her belly, and generally all over. The idea is for her to get used to your touch and to imprint your "odor" on her fur. Keep this up as often as you can until the time comes for grooming.
Step
2
Play time
Time to take your pup out on a nice walk to go potty and then spend time playing with her. The idea is to tire her out, which in turn should help calm her fears. It also helps you bond with her, which builds trust in you.
Step
3
Set up and introduce
Set up the tools in the room you have chosen for grooming and bring your dog in. Let her spend as much time as she needs to get used to the tools you plan to use on the grooming table. Put her on the table, hook her up to the safety restraint and let her see and sniff the tools. Give her lots of time to get used to everything.
Step
4
Tops up
Start brushing her at the top of her head, then her face, and finally her muzzle. Take a break and give her a treat. Brush her back and sides following the direction her coat grows naturally and the outsides of her legs.
Step
5
Bottoms up
Brush her rump and tail, being very careful when brushing her rump as the area around her "private bits" is extremely sensitive. Have her roll over so you can brush the insides of her legs, her paws, and of course her belly. Finish up by trimming the hair between her toes and the pads of her feet using a pair of shears.
Recommend grooming method?

The Handle with Care Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Pin Brush
Step
1
The grooming room
Start by putting together a nice, peaceful grooming room by laying out all of the tools you plan to use and turning on some nice relaxing music. Try to pick a room with a tile or linoleum floor that is easy to clean. Add the grooming table.
Step
2
Make it smell so good
Add a diffuser with a little lavender essential oil and turn it on. This will help your dog to calm down and relax.
Step
3
Time for a walk
Take your pup out for a walk that is long enough for her to go potty and to tire her out. This will help burn off some of that nervous energy.
Step
4
The rub down
Nothing helps calm a nervous or frightened pup better than a nice gentle, all-over massage. Don't miss anywhere, you want her to be comfortable with being touched in this manner as it will make grooming easier.
Step
5
Groom slowly, groom gently
When it comes to grooming a fearful pup, there is no such thing as taking too much time. Go slowly, take frequent breaks, use lots of treats, and be gentle. Before long your pup may just start bringing you the brush come grooming day.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • The earlier you start getting your dog used to being touched, the easier grooming will be when the time comes.
  • No matter whether your dog has short or long hair, she needs to be groomed weekly to help keep her clean.
  • Use this time to look her over for fleas, ticks, injuries, or skin problems.
  • Use sharp safety shears with rounded tips to cut out any mats in her hair you come across.
  • Be sure to take your dog to the vet if you find any serious injuries.
  • Take your time, let the dog set the pace, and keep working together. 

Conclusion

Lucy might struggle and fuss at first, but if you plan it right, by the time she is old enough to need grooming she will already be used to you touching her all over. Work with her at approximately the same time on the same day each week to get her used to the routine. It will help build her confidence and trust. 

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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