How to Groom an Aggressive Dog

Hard
1 - 2 Hour
1 Month

Introduction

Ferris is a long-haired dachshund, who happens to hate being groomed. In the past, his hair has been pulled and his nails clipped too short. He used to tolerate grooming better when he was younger, but now he is old and grumpy, he does not want to be groomed, and he is not afraid to make that clear. Ferris has learned that by growling and snapping at people who groom him, both at home, and at dog salons, the handler will often stop what they are doing, and in some cases, the grooming session has even ended.  Victory for Ferris!  

If you have a dog that becomes aggressive when being groomed due to fear or aggressive tendencies, you and any professional groomers working with your dog will need to know how to handle and groom an aggressive dog.  Utilizing the right tools and techniques will make grooming an aggressive dog safer for everyone concerned. Even better are techniques that counteract aggressive tendencies and result in different behavior from your dog, making future grooming sessions easier and more pleasant.

Dog's Perspective

An aggressive dog is not just trying to be difficult while grooming, he has a reason, and understanding that reason will help you counteract it and deal with aggression. Dogs can be aggressive during grooming due to pain from current or past medical conditions. Check with your veterinarian if you think this might be an issue. Your dog may have memories of past traumatic events during grooming, such as razor burn or nails cut to the quick. Other frightening and painful experiences that are associated with grooming, such as abuse that may have occurred, can also make a dog react aggressively to grooming. A generally fearful dog that is afraid of new people and new situations, will easily transfer this fear to groomers and salons. A dominant dog may be trying to exert his dominance and control of a situation and become aggressive during grooming.

If you allow your dog's aggression to control you and stop the grooming process, you have just created a positive reinforcement for your dog's aggression, and stopping aggression in the future will be more difficult. It is important not to allow an aggressive dog to control the situation. You will need to be confident and firm to mitigate fear and take precautions to alleviate discomfort, but not show fear yourself as this will only encourage and contribute to the dog's behavior.

The Techniques Method

Effective
0 Votes
Spray
Slicker Brush
Shampoo
Scissors
Pin Brush
Nail Clipper
Hemostat
Deshedder
Dematter
Comb
Clipper
Step
1
Provide treats
Create a positive association with grooming locations and tools. Put treats on the grooming table, feed while brushing. Provide treats in bathtub. Allow your dog to investigate tools, and provide treats when the dog sniffs or touches the tools.
Step
2
Be firm and calm
Be firm, patient, and keep grooming sessions frequent and short, until your dog learns what is expected during grooming sessions, and that he cannot control the session by displaying aggression. Never end a grooming session when the dog is displaying aggression, wait until he is calm and allowing you to groom to end the session.
Step
3
Hold face away
Snug the dog's back end up against your body, with the head away from you, and restrained with a neck restraint or neck collar and lead. Wrap one arm around the dog's body, holding the chest. Be firm but gentle.
Step
4
Use an assistant
Have an assistant help restrain the dog by putting one arm around the neck and the other around the dog's abdomen, or around armpits. This hold will allow you to handle feet and access the dog’s back end for grooming. Position the head away from your face, rest the neck against your shoulder hold firmly.
Step
5
Use assistant and lateral hold
Have an assistant restrain the dog in a lateral hold. Lay the dog down on his side, stand at the dog's back, and put one arm over the dog's neck, with your elbow at his head, and hold the bottom front leg with the same arm, the other arm goes over the back in front of the hips and grabs the bottom hind leg. Use light pressure to restrain the dog if the dog struggles.
Recommend grooming method?

The Tools Method

Effective
0 Votes
Slicker Brush
Pin Brush
Nail Clipper
Deshedder
Comb
Clipper
Step
1
Use table and restraints
Use a grooming table for better access to your dog, with a non-slip surface and provision to attach restraints such as a neck restraint and hip restraint, if necessary. This allows you to position the dog and manipulate the dog as necessary, to ensure your safety. Restraints around the neck control the dog's head position while you are working on the legs and body of the dog. It can be snugged up as required, but be careful not to allow it to get too tight, cause discomfort, or hurt the dog's windpipe. Additional restraints below the. abdomen in front of the hip can also be useful to control an aggressive dog.
Step
2
Medicate if necessary
Medication may be appropriate to sedate an aggressive or dangerous dog that requires grooming. Medication should only be used under the direction of a veterinarian.
Step
3
Muzzle
Muzzle the dog so they cannot bite. Make sure the muzzle fits adequately, and is not hurting the dog. Use the muzzle as little as possible, so as not to stress the dog. Sometimes, putting a blanket over the dog's head when transferring them from a bath to a table may be helpful, make sure the dog can breath at all times.
Step
4
Long handled tools
Long handled combs and brushes can be used to allow you to restrain the dog with one hand and brush or comb at the same time, reaching spots that the dog may snap at without causing you to withdraw your hand, as your hand is well out of striking range.
Step
5
Secure face with comb
Use a comb in the dog's beard to control your dog's head as you groom the face. When you have to remove the neck restraint to groom around the neck, you can put a comb in the dogs beard, and turn the dog's head away from you while you are working on the neck and face.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Take safety precautions when working with an aggressive dog to protect yourself and others, use restraints and muzzles when necessary.

  • Make sure restraints and muzzles are used correctly, and the appropriate size so as not to injure or cause discomfort to the dog.

  • Give an aggressive dog breaks from grooming when they are behaving calmly, to reward them for appropriate behavior and prevent them from becoming tired and frustrated, or escalating stress, which will contribute to aggression.

  • Be aware of health concerns or medications the dog may require. Get advice from a veterinarian to address issues.

Conclusion

Aggressive dogs can be a challenge to groom, but some precautions and knowledge of useful techniques and tools that will minimize risk and counteract aggressive tendencies will help make grooming sessions with aggressive dogs safe. Understanding the cause of the dog's aggression so that it can be mitigated with adjustments or behavior modification for best success. Tools like grooming tables with restraints, muzzles, and long-handled tools can also be useful.  An assistant and knowledge of safe holds to prevent injury to the dog or to others will often be necessary when grooming an aggressive dog.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions