Help Your Groomer Help Your Dog
Understanding Your Dog’s Behavior before Taking Your Dog to the Groomer
There are things that happen in our lives that we don’t like and situations we are afraid of. But the more prepared we are, the more secure we feel. Behavior under stress is exaggerated. If your dog is normally calm and confident, in your groomer’s shop he may be shy, cautious, panicky, or aggressive.
He is in a place with new smells, unfamiliar sights, strange sounds, and different surfaces to walk on. He also picks up on the emotions of the other people and animals surrounding him. He needs your help and guidance to prepare him for new things.
If your dog spends the majority of his time in your house and yard and does not meet people outside your family members, then chances are that he will be nervous in or fearful of new situations. Getting him used to new sounds, sights, smells, and flooring before he goes to the groomer’s will not only help him at the groomer’s shop, but it will help become a well-adjusted and calmer dog at home.
Introduce your dog to people of all ages who wear different kinds of clothing and who carry all sorts of objects. Take him to different environments. Let him walk on new surfaces (concrete, dirt, rocks — even mud — ugh!) and let him see and hear different sights and sounds such as trucks backfiring, motorcycles, umbrellas opening, and children playing.
Obedience Training before Taking Your Dog to the Grooming Salon
Obedience training is trust training — your dog trusts you to keep him safe when you are him leader. You set guidelines and boundaries for him, and he feels safe within them. It gives him something familiar to do in an unfamiliar setting and helps calm him down.
Train your dog to sit, stay, and stand on command. For the sit command, your dog is standing in front of you. Take a treat and hold it at his nose. Slowly move the treat just above his head between his eyes. He should follow the treat with his nose, and that movement will make his head come up and his rear end go to the floor. Praise him and give him the treat.
For the stand (now that he is sitting), hold the treat just in front of his nose and bring your hand towards your body so he has to get up to reach for the treat. When he stands, praise him and give him the treat.
For the stay, just continue to give him treats when he is in either of these positions until you release him. Begin making him stay just a few seconds. If he moves, guide him back to the exact same spot.
What Your Groomer Does during Grooming Your Dog
You know how terrific your dog looks after he has visited his canine beautician, but do you know all the things your groomer does to get him to look that way?
Your groomer begins by brushing your dog and getting the mats out. Then she clips him before his bath and may express (squeeze the stinky stuff out) his anal glands.
The temperature of the bath water is warm. She wets him all over and then begins to shampoo. She pays special attention to cleaning inside the ears, around the eyes and mouth, between the pads of his feet, and around the anal area. Then she puts a conditioner on him and rinses it off.
Next she towels him off and then either dries him with a hand-held dryer or puts him in a crate with a dryer. After that, she begins brushing and combing his coat. During this entire process, she is checking for parasites (such as fleas and ticks) on his skin.
Then come the final touches. She cleans his ears and removes the hair. She cleans the tear stains. Thenshe cuts the hair between the pads of his feet and around his anus and groin. She trims and fileshis nails. Then a final hand scissoring and brush and comb out.
You Can Help Your Groomer Help Your Dog
HANDLING: While you are at home, you can handle your dog as your groomer would during grooming. Choose a quiet time and a quiet place, and give him treats during this whole process. Begin by just touching all parts of his body as if you are giving him an all-over body massage. Scratch his tummy, under his chin, and behind his ears. Pet him with long, gentle strokes.
As he becomes comfortable with that, touch his ears, look inside his ears, stroke his muzzle. Pick up his paws, run your hands down his legs, gently squeeze his feet, toes, and tail.
CLIPPING NAILS: Some dogs do not like having their nails clipped. To get your dog used to the sound, while your dog is next to you, pick up some wooden matchsticks and cut the matchsticks, giving your dog a treat with each cut. Handle your dog’s feet several times a day, giving him a scrumptious treat as you touch them. Then take the nail clipper out and put it on the floor near your dog. Give him a treat every time he looks at the clipper. Pick it up and slowly bring it closer to him giving him treats the whole time. Hold your dog‘s foot and put the matchstick underneath his foot and cut the matchstick. When he gets used to this, then put the clipper to his nails and pretend to cut them.
THE SOUNDS: The two sounds to get him used to are the sounds of the hair clippers and the dryer. Begin with the dryer. Put the dryer several feet from him. Turn it on and off very quickly. Toss him a treat every time it is on. As he acclimates to the sound, leave it on for a few more seconds and gradually it move closer to him. Remember the treats! When you finally get close to him, let it blow on the least sensitive part of his body and give him a treat. Leave it on for longer periods. When he is used to the dryer, repeat the entire process again with an electric razor or other appliance that simulates the sound of hair clippers.
THE TABLE: Get him used to being on a raised surface. Several times a day, pick him up and place him on a table, a counter top, your washer or dryer, or some other raised surface on top of which you have put a rubber mat.
THE CRATE: Make him want to go into the crate. Put his favorite toys in the crate and close the door so he is outside and the toys are inside next to the door. Now he wants to go into the crate to get his toys! Open the door and let him in to get them. Leave the door open. Gradually put the toys further back so he has to go further inside to get them. Do the same thing with his food, and put his dish further back. Begin swinging the door while he is eating. As he gets accustomed to the noise, then close it for just a short period of time. Slowly lengthen the time the door is closed.
Please read our other article “Help Your Vet Help Your Dog” for additional dog handling tips.
I’d love to hear what your comments are. What tips can you contribute to help your dog before going to the groomer’s? Please share your experiences with your dog or ask a question so we can begin a dialogue to help each other.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational only.It does not replace a consultation with a dog behavior consultant or veterinarian and may not be used to diagnose or treat any conditions in your dog.
If you need help with dog training or puppy training in Los Angeles, please contact us. We would love to work with you!