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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Overcoming Grooming Fears (A Blog Request)

My VERY dirty white puppy needs a grooming!
Wow, such a great request for a blog post topic! This is a very broad topic, as dogs can be resistant to grooming for many reasons and in many ways. As I thought about how to approach this post, I decided the first thing to do was to break it down. There are so many aspects to a grooming session. We should begin by asking questions about each aspect to see where the issue is. 

Is your dog resistant to the entire process of grooming? Most likely there are activities of grooming that go better or worse than others. Which part of the process is your dog resisting? Being restrained? Having certain parts of her body touched? Having toenails clipped? The way the brush or comb feels? The strong smells of some grooming sprays and products? Being up on a table? How many aspects of the grooming routine can you break the session into, and which ones are causing resistant behavior in your dog?

Can you easily and gently restrain your dog in various body positions with both of you remaining calm and relaxed? Can you hold her in your lap, lying on her side, lying on her back cradled in your arms or between your legs on the floor? Can you hold her feet for several seconds, or hold her chin or muzzle to hold her head still? Think of all the ways that you touch and move your dog during grooming sessions. Is she comfortable with each of them or is one or more causing her stress? Can you touch your dog anywhere on her body in a gentle way with her remaining calm and relaxed? Each foot, each toe, her collar, ears, teeth and lips, around the eyes, tail, up and down each leg?

Are you sure your dog’s resistance is not due to her being sore or in pain? If it hurts when you touch or manipulate your dog’s body, she will not want to cooperate with you. If you suspect that your dog is hurting from an injury or a condition such as arthritis, please schedule a visit with your dog’s veterinarian to get it checked out. If this is a chronic condition, you may need to find different ways of grooming that are more comfortable for your dog. Are you pulling mats in her hair as you brush or comb? Even small mats can really hurt when they get caught in the brush or comb – if you have long hair, you know this! Ouch!

Consider the products you are using to groom your dog. We want our dogs to smell nice, and there are all sorts of nice-smelling products for us to put on our dogs, but remember that your dog’s sense of smell is so much more sensitive than yours. I know most grooming products have a smell that I consider to be strong. Imagine what that must be like to a dog that can smell so many many things that I don’t even notice! And the dog can’t even walk away from the strong smell because it is stuck to her and follows her everywhere! If you are using a spray on your dog (even a mist of water), is she comfortable with the spray? Many dogs are not.

If you put your dog on a table to groom her, is she relaxed on the table? Will she comfortably move around and change body position on the table, or is she stiff and unsure? Whether you use a table or not, is your dog comfortable in the area that you’ve chosen to do grooming in?

And lastly, how do you approach grooming time? Are you approaching grooming your dog as a chore that you don’t want to do? Are you hurrying to get through it as quickly as possible? Are you afraid to groom your dog? Many people are afraid to do certain grooming tasks, such as clipping toenails. Do you approach grooming with the expectation that it is going to turn into a fight with your dog? Any of those emotions can result in you holding tension in your body and breath, as well as emitting a sense of anxiety to your dog. 

If you’re having trouble grooming your dog, make a list of some of the areas of the routine that your dog is not comfortable with. Maybe it was something I listed, or maybe it’s something totally different. List as many things as you can. Each aspect may need to be introduced individually and gradually in separate sessions before it can be put together again in a full grooming session. Take some time to slowly work on anything about the grooming routine that worries your dog. Work on it away from grooming time, just for a few minutes at a time (or maybe even less) until your dog starts to become more comfortable with it.

1 comment:

  1. I was looking for something like this..really a nice and interesting post..