Although many dogs love the idea of pampering, for others, the idea of loud noises, clippers, and blow dryers can create a full-blown panic attack. Or at the very least, it can make them whine, tremble, salivate and in some cases, become physically sick. Every pet reacts differently, and you need to take notice of how your pet behaves, so you can combat any anxiety they might be feeling.
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While most professional dog groomers are trained to deal with anxiety from their customer’s pets, there are things you can do in the lead-up to their grooming session to help prepare your pooch.
Take the fear out of noise and equipment
According to research, 70% of dogs experience anxiety, and one of the main reasons pets fear the groomers is the noise. Blow dryers and clippers are loud, and particularly so if your pet is visiting a grooming salon where there are a number of dogs at one time. That noise can be quite scary, so before heading to a professional, start by giving your dog a bath at home. Turn on the blow dryer so they can hear the noise it makes and show the dog what you’re doing. Do the same with clippers. You might even hold up some nail trimmers in front of your pet, without clipping, just to get them familiar with the sight.
Make them feel comfortable
To do this, start by ensuring your dog is used to being around other people. If you have them as a puppy, start socializing as soon as possible. Introduce them to people in your life, and take them to a dog park where they can interact with strangers (and other dogs). This will make them feel more relaxed when you take them to see their groomer. Now to the touching – your pet will need to be touched all over their body when getting a grooming treatment. Prepare them at home by giving them a full body massage before you head to the salon. Play with your pet’s ears, scratch their bottom, and spread their toes apart to help them get comfortable.
Exercise right before you go
Take your pet out for a long walk before you go to the groomers. Dogs need to get plenty of exercise and if they have been for a walk, they are likely to be tired – which will help calm them down for their cut and wash. It also gives your pooch time they need to relieve themselves and it will help contain any nervous energy they might have.
For some dogs, the car ride to the groomers can provoke anxiety and if your pet is already stressed when they arrive, it’s not going to be a pleasant experience for them in the salon. To help them feel more comfortable in the car, Ourfitpets.com suggests a few things you can try: “Keep the temperature cool in the car, lower the windows and allow plenty of fresh air, try not to give your pet too much food or drink before driving, and as we’ve mentioned already, take your pet for a walk to help make them more relaxed prior to the journey. If your pet’s anxiety is derived from motion sickness, talk to your local vet for some medication.”
Choose the right groomer
If you want your pet to feel comfortable with their groomer, don’t be afraid to research and interview your local service providers to find one you think is suitable. An understanding groomer, someone who has worked with nervous dogs and who can provide you examples that set your mind at ease, is ideal. If you’re still unsure, see if you can take your dog along to meet them, prior to booking them in. A groomer that has been professionally trained will be able to understand the needs of your dog and will have ways they can help reduce your pet’s anxiety or suggestions for you.
Finally, don’t rush into it. If your dog has never been to a groomer and is showing signs of anxiety, or if you have a rescue pup and you’re not sure how they will react, start slowly. For their first session, just book a bath and brush. If that goes according to plan, next time you book, include nail clippings and an ear clean. Add one or two new services with each appointment until finally, your pet is able to enjoy a full pampering – anxiety-free.
Grooming should be a happy experience for your pet, and you want them to feel as safe and comfortable as possible. If the above tips don’t work, talk to your vet to see if there is another option or suggestion for your dog’s anxiety.