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How To Handle A Dog While Grooming?

At A Glance

All dogs need regular grooming, but some of them may be uncomfortable or even scared of going to the salon. Preventing stress, developing trust, and a bit of obedience training can make a huge difference in how your dog reacts to its next salon appointment.

Last Updated on: Mar 08, 2022

How can I control my dog while grooming? Is it almost time for your dog’s next (or first!) grooming appointment of the year? Are you anticipating a bad reaction when you walk into the salon?

Dogs may not always like the ambiance of salons because the sights, sounds, and smells are entirely unfamiliar or even threatening to them. However, because grooming is a basic necessity for all dogs, it is something they must get used to.

When you let too much time pass between professional grooming sessions, a dog’s fur can become incredibly dirty and impossible to manage. Read on for some simple and practical tips that will help you handle your dog before and during a grooming session:

custom oil-painted dog portraits by Poshtraits

an image of dog having his teeth cleaned

Preventing Stress

Most canines experience stress and anxiety when in a new environment, and salons are no different. After all, a salon is entirely different from the home or even the neighborhood they’re used to. And when a dog becomes anxious and irritated, controlling it can become very difficult, to the point where the groomer may not be able to do their job.

Groomers know to be very compassionate with dogs, but they also know that it is not just patience and a calm demeanor that will save them when a new dog comes to the salon. As an owner, it’s your responsibility to control your dog, too. One of the best ways to do this is to prevent anxiety long before you come in for your appointment.

Here are some ways to do so:

  • If your dog doesn’t like car rides, walk to the salon instead. Expending its energy right before a grooming appointment can help it remain calm.
  • Indulge in a vigorous play session right before you go to the groomer. This will tire your dog out and can even get it to the point of napping through the grooming session.
  • In the waiting room at the salon, give your dog indulgent rubs and talk to it in a soothing tone. This will help it understand that there’s nothing to be anxious about.

Building Familiarity With The New Environment

The next thing to consider is how do you groom an unwilling dog? Again, such behavior likely stems from the new environment and fear of the unfamiliar. Another effective way to manage a dog’s behavior is to help it understand what’s about to happen.

You can visit the salon before your appointment. Take it around the facility and introduce it to the new sights and sounds without the pressure of a looming session. Your groomer will likely be happy to be introduced and sniffed all over to develop familiarity and rapport before they work on your dog.

Your groomer will help on this end, too. They know to let dogs spend some time sniffing around the grooming station before settling down for the procedure. They will calmly introduce the grooming tools and wait until the dog is willing to be handled.

It’s important to follow your dog’s pace and go step by step.

These early efforts at building familiarity and trust will go a long way in ensuring stress-free grooming appointments moving forward!

Training A Dog To Behave In The Salon

Dogs can be trained to behave well in a new environment. When you help your dog associate grooming with rewards, it will be a breeze to bring it in for an appointment.

Remember that positive reinforcement is the best and most effective way to instill good behavior. This means generously doling out treats and verbal praise when your dog follows commands.

A dog’s idea of personal grooming is to roll on a dead fish. -James P. Gorman

Using essential oils with your dog’s favored scent can be a good choice for grooming sessions at home or at the salon. This kind of familiarity can ease its anxiety and instill a sense of calm. You can also opt for a home session with a professional groomer, too.

An image of a dog being groomed

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Restrain An Aggressive Dog For Grooming?

If your calming efforts don’t work, it may be best to opt for physical restraints to keep your dog in place while grooming. Salons already have setups for this, and they often include a metal bar over the dog’s head and a two-point leash to restrain the neck while holding its head up comfortably.

Two-point restraints remove the pressure from the dog’s trachea, which is a highly sensitive section of the throat. Some grooming restraints have additional loops on the opposite end that go over the dog’s rear end to limit movement.

A cute puppy looking at his nails being groomed

How To Handle A Dog While Grooming When It’s Terrified?

When a dog is terrified, it will do everything it can to get out of the environment causing its distress. It can create a lot of ruckuses and will be impossible to groom.

How to groom an anxious dog? A 15 or 20-minute break can help a terrified dog calm down, take stock of its surroundings, and process what’s happening. Stopping when a dog feels discomfort is a good way to develop trust.

How Do I Relieve My Dog’s Stress After Grooming?

If your dog manages to get through its grooming session, congratulations! Hopefully, the next appointment will be a breeze, too.

A thorough scrub and a fresh haircut can feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable for the first few days. Be extra attentive, affectionate, and generous with your dog after grooming. Dole out treats and praise its fresh and clean look as often as you can.

If your dog still shows signs of discomfort or pain after a few hours or days, check it over for injuries or irritated spots that may have been caused by the groomer. A vet check can help diagnose the problem.

Also Read: 30 Common Dog Health Problems and Solutions

An image of a dog with his tongue out while being groomed

It may be difficult to make dogs behave well before and during a grooming session. Knowing how to handle a dog while grooming will do wonders for its hygiene and overall well-being, so it’s worth the time and effort to develop trust and ensure good behavior during its appointment.


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Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.

Through his words, Paul aims to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a dedicated pet parent, reminding you that life is simply better with a four-legged, snorting sidekick by your side.