Does your dog dread grooming? Try these desensitization tips.

Does your dog dread grooming? Try these desensitization tips.

If your dog needs to be groomed, whether it's a cool haircut or a thorough de-shed, training your dog to be comfortable around grooming tools can make a world of difference!

Grooming desensitization usually starts while your dog is still a puppy, but can also be beneficial for older dogs. Bringing your pup in every few weeks for a light grooming session can help them get used to being handled by another person and become more comfortable with being groomed overall. 

You can also desensitize your dog at home by doing light grooming or body handling yourself! Touch your dog's body where a groomer might need to, especially the feet, every day. When touching the feet you can touch them lightly with your hands or even use a pair of nail clippers. Your dog will get used to their feet and body being handled over time and won’t be so uncomfortable when getting a nail trim or full grooming appointment at the grooming salon. 

Sticking with a grooming desensitization schedule can be very beneficial if your dog is nervous around: water, having his or her paws touched, or loud noises like hair dryers. Over time, with proper desensitization training, you can help your dog to become more comfortable with all aspects of grooming.

To further help your dog with desensitization, you can use food or their toys to keep them occupied. Try brushing your dog while they're eating, as the food may be distracting enough that they won't mind the brush at all. If you keep doing this, your dog may start to associate brushing with something more positive, like their food. 

It's best to start desensitization early, and best to go slowly. If a dog becomes too uncomfortable during a grooming desensitization session, make sure to stop what you’re doing. Either move on to another section of the groom, or stop altogether. For example, if your dog becomes upset while you’re trimming their nails, listen to what they’re telling you and take a break from nail trimming. Start brushing instead, or quit for the day, to give them time to relax. 

If you intend on bringing your dog to get professionally groomed in the long term, we highly recommend bringing them to us for a Puppy’s First Groom service designed specifically to help desensitize your dog to being groomed. This 45 minute appointment consists of: a very light bath, light blow dry, and a slow nail trim. Our groomer will provide treats and words of encouragement to your dog throughout the process, to help them get used to the sounds and sights of grooming.

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