Grooming your dog at home can be a real chore if your dog is scared, anxious, or just plain fidgety. Here, our Liberty Lake vets share some dog grooming tips for difficult dogs.
Dog Grooming Anxiety
Grooming is an essential part of caring for your dog's health. Matted fur, goopy ears, and overly long nails are unpleasant for your dog and, if left untreated, can lead to more serious health problems.
From bathing to brushing, ear cleaning to nail trimming, grooming can quickly become a nightmare if your dog is nervous or anxious about the grooming process.
How to Keep a Dog Calm During Grooming
Begin Grooming Young
Whether you groom your dog at home or take them to a professional groomer, it's a good idea to start a grooming routine when they're young. By starting a regular grooming routine early on, your dog will learn that grooming is normal and not something to be afraid of.
- Professional Groomers: If you have a fearful or anxious puppy, professional groomers are trained in a variety of methods to help put your dog at ease. Taking your puppy to the groomer while they are young will help to teach your dog that visiting the groomer is a normal and enjoyable day out.
- At-Home Grooming: Beginning at-home grooming while your puppy is young is a great way for both of you to begin feeling relaxed and comfortable about the grooming process. Beginning grooming while your puppy is still small and manageable will also help you to become more confident.
It's critical to stay calm when grooming your dog, whether you're doing it yourself or taking it to the groomer. If your dog detects your anxiety, it will believe there is something to be afraid of.
- Professional Groomer: If possible, consider walking your dog to the groomer. The added exercise provided by a walk is a great way to burn off nervous energy and help your dog to arrive at the groomer's feeling calm and confident.
- At-Home Grooming: Have all the grooming tools ready before bringing your dog into the room. Being prepared will help you to remain calm throughout the grooming process. Speak to your dog calmly and let your dog safely sniff and explore tools such as brushes and clippers. Wait until your dog is calm before beginning grooming, and have treats handy to reward good behavior.
Vigorous exercise is one of the best ways to calm a dog down before grooming. Long walks, running, chasing a ball, or playing with other dogs at the dog park are all excellent ways to sedate your dog without using medication. Grooming will become a relaxed and simple process once your dog has expended all of their energy.
Positive reinforcement is an effective method for teaching your dog to remain calm and relaxed while being groomed. Giving your dog treats and praise when he sits still to be brushed or lets you clip his nails will teach him good grooming habits. Stay calm, positive, and patient while taking it slowly, even if that means only clipping one nail at a time.
Dogs enjoy being petted and patted, and grooming time is no exception. Patting and holding your nervous dog during the grooming process can help reassure him that everything is fine and that he has nothing to be afraid of.
A variety of scents are known to have calming effects on dogs, just as they do on humans. Rub some lavender essential oil onto your fingertips and then run your fingers through your dog's fur to help calm him down while grooming. The relaxing scent of lavender, combined with the calming effect of touch, may help to relax your dog.
Dog Appeasing Pheromones
If your canine companion is nervous or anxious despite your efforts to keep grooming calm, you might try using a synthetic pheromone diffuser. Pheromones are chemical compounds that allow animals to communicate with one another. Scientists have isolated the compound that transmits a sense of calming relaxation to dogs, and they have developed a line of products to help keep pets calm during grooming.
Using a synthetic pheromone diffuser bathes your room with an odorless, non-sedative, synthetic hormone that can help to relax dogs, but has no effect on humans or other animals. Speak to your vet to find out more about using a synthetic pheromone diffuser to help calm your dog during grooming.
Medical Sedation for Dogs
Medications to calm dogs for grooming do exist. If your dog is extremely anxious or fearful during grooming, it may be necessary to visit your vet to discuss medical sedation options.
While there are several effective anti-anxiety and sedation medications for dogs, not all sedation medications work for all dogs. Your veterinarian may prescribe diazepam, acepromazine, gabapentin, or fluoxetine as sedatives for your dog.
Never give your dog sedation medications without first consulting your veterinarian.