Use These Tips to Get Your Nervous Dog to Enjoy Grooming
At Splash and Dash Groomerie & Boutique we understand the needs of a nervous dog. Many adopted or rescued pets come from a difficult past. Dogs like this need special devotion to help them overcome their anxiety.
Some dogs love the pet salon while others fear it. A reputable grooming salon takes strides to make a dog’s time there a luxurious and soothing experience. Understandably, for a dog, even this pampering experience can be scary. A pet salon is full of loud noises from the clippers and blow dryers. Dogs can become fearful of other dogs that are also there for a grooming even when dogs are kept separate. All these foreign stimuli can make grooming a traumatic experience for a nervous dog. In some severe cases, dogs can have a full-blown panic attack from not being properly acclimated to the situation.
The issue with nervous dogs is that, for their safety, a professional should be the one doing their grooming. Every dog needs grooming. Without regular brushing, washing, and a trimming a dog’s coat can develop matts. Dogs that are neglected—without grooming—can develop skin irritations. Not to mention a dirty dog means a dirty house. Even though your dog may have some anxiety, she’s still going to need the pet care that comes with grooming.
No matter your dog’s situation, follow these ten steps to help prepare your dog for a positive grooming experience.
Step 1: Massage
When a dog goes to the groomer, a specialist will attend to areas of her body that need to be cleaned—even the sensitive areas. Her ears, groin area, paws, and glands will need to be handled. To get a dog ready for this, you can give your dog a full-body massage. Gently pet your dog from head to toe. Play with her paws and make sure you spread her toes apart. Play with her ears and scratch her bum. Making sure your dog is used to being handled is the first step.
Next, give her a massage on a raised table. This simulates the experience she will have at a grooming salon. Take baby steps with a nervous dog. Whatever you can do to make your dog more comfortable is a good idea. Plenty of soothing languages, treats, or a blanket will help her association with these foreign experiences a pleasant one.
Step 2: Bathing, Brushing, and Supplies
Try exposing your dog to as many of the sensations of grooming as possible. Re-create these experiences in baby steps at home first. Then when your dog is ready, take her to the groomer.
If you can safely give your dog a bath at home, give this a try. Constantly brushing your dog every day is also good for them. Get them used to as many sights and sounds as possible. Turn on a blow dryer so she can hear the sound then give her a treat. Hold up a pair of nail trimmers next to her paws without clipping—then give her a treat.
It might seem excessive, but for a nervous dog, this will help.
Step 3: Make Sure She’s Plenty Exercised
That old expression, “A tired dog is a happy dog” is very true. Not only do dogs crave exploring the world by peeing on everything, they need to get plenty of exercise. Before taking your dog to the groomer make sure she’s had a walk. This will give her time to relieve herself and workout any nervous energy.
Step 4: Find an Understanding Groomer
Not every groomer has the resources or the professional skills to handle an extremely nervous dog. If your dog suffers from anxiety or aggression, inform the groomer of the situation. Some groomers actually specialize in dogs with special needs.
Splash and Dash groomers are thoroughly trained with the professional skillset to accommodate for any dog. Our trained staff will work with you and your pup to ensure a safe and comfortable grooming experience.
Step 5: The Car Ride
When your dog is still a puppy is the best time to start acclimating them to car rides. Car rides can be very stressful for a dog. A car ride is a foreign experience. Your dog may anticipate a stressful destination like the groomers or vet. Take your puppy on car rides while they’re young. This can get them used to the motion of the car and the sounds of traffic. Drive around without a set destination. If your dog is older, you can still counter condition them to make car rides a more pleasant experience.
Bring your dog’s favorite blanket or toy. Make sure they are comfortable. Doggie car seats and restraints will ensure their safety. If your dog has stomach issues during the ride, this is most likely due to motion sickness. If this is the case, discuss anti-nausea medication with your veterinarian. Drive around without a set destination so that your dog will not relate a car ride to a stressful visit to the groomers or vet. This will curb their apprehension. Continually reassure your dog with a calm voice and plenty of treats.
Plan a trip to the groomers after your dog has mastered stress-free car rides.
Step 6: Training Visit
After finding a groomer you and your dog are comfortable with, ask if you can schedule a training visit. On this visit, you can walk around with your dog and help them slowly adjust. Your dog can see the facilities, hear the loud clippers & blow dryers, and can practice standing on a grooming table.
This also presents an opportunity for your dog to meet the groomer. A principled groomer will take the time to meet your dog and help her to relax. During this time a groomer can help coax her nervousness away.
Step 7: Special Equipment for a Nervous Dog
Dogs with anxiety are common. Over the years specialty grooming supplies have been made to adjust the grooming process for a nervous dog.
Scaredy Cut was developed with this purpose. Scaredy Cut are serrated blades with 7 comb attachments—1/2 to 1 or #1 to #6. This allows a groomer to trim a dog’s coat with the same precision of an electric blade. This silent clipper is a less abrasive way for a groomer to trim down a nervous dog’s coat.
Another specialty item that you can consider are Mutt Muffs. This headgear covers your dog’s ear to help them protect their ears against loud noises. Mutt Muffs fits the contour of your dog’s head and straps comfortably in place. The sound-reducing headgear was designed for airplanes but can be useful for dogs at the groomers. Another noise reduction product is the Happy Hoodie which wraps around a dog’s ears and head. This device was made specifically for dogs to help protect and calm them from the loud noise and high-pressured air from a blow-dryer at the grooming salon. The swaddling effect is similar to one that is produced from a Thunder Jacket.
Step 8: Aromatherapy
Many groomers, including Splash and Dash, have adopted aromatherapy into their pet salon treatments. The way aromatherapy works for dogs is through conditioning. You can train your dog to associate the calming scents with peacefulness. The ingredients of aromatherapy dog shampoos are typically botanicals like lavender, chamomile, and essential vitamins. These formulas are designed to induce a calm state.
Splash and Dash has a shampoo dedicated to getting nervous dogs to calm down. The shampoo treatment is aptly named—Relax.
Step 9: Acepromazine
Acepromazine is an over-the-counter tranquilizer and nervous system depressant administered for nervous dogs. The drug works as a dopamine antagonist. It is used to prevent anxiety during thunderstorms, fireworks, and vet or groomer visits. The effects of acepromazine last 6-8 hours and can combat nausea, stabilize heart rhythm, and lower blood pressure.
Before you give your dog any medication, consult your vet first! Your vet will be able to give you directions on a proper dosage for your dog and any expected side effects. Use of Acepromazine should be for a worst-case scenario option.
Some dog’s adrenaline will kick in under stress resulting in a more ‘drunken’ state where their behavior may become erratic. If your dog has been diagnosed with extreme anxiety, you may need to use prescription sedatives or have a veterinarian administer sedation.
Step 10: Take Your Time and Ease Into It
Allow your dog to adjust in baby steps. After a training session, maybe just have your groomer do a bath and brush. Next time, your groomer can try a nail trimming and ear cleaning. Your groomer will work with your dog toward getting a whole grooming session done in one appointment. Each time your dog gets a treat, and plenty of reinforcing loving approval. Over time, your dog will be less nervous and hopefully begin to associate the groomers as a relaxing part of their life.
If you are looking for a special place to bring your fur-baby click here! Splash and Dash Groomerie & Boutique is more than happy to offer their services toward nervous dogs who need accommodations and a loving touch to ease their way into grooming. Splash and Dash is not simply a grooming shop. The company offers a pet spa and salon experience that pampers your pets in sudsy luxury.
Finding a groomer is like finding a babysitter. You will want to leave your dog in trusting and professional hands.
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