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Get Used to Grooming for Anxious Dogs

Some dogs don't like being groomed. They may have an aversion to a particular aspect of the groom, such as having nails clipped, or the noise of the high-velocity dryer. Sometimes previous, negative experiences make it difficult for a dog to feel safe being handled by a groomer going forward. Some dogs just hate the whole thing. A dog who is anxious or afraid will tell us how it is feeling through its behaviour.

Common indicators of anxiety include:

  • Cowering or crouching and immobile ('freeze' reflex)

  • Straining against the leash

  • Not wanting to come in

  • Avoiding eye contact

  • Running away ('flight' reflex)

  • Resisting being handled or held 

  • Licking lips

  • Yawning

  • Baring teeth or growling 

  • Biting (The 'fight' reflex)

Being groomed can feel threatening or invasive to a dog who is frightened of it. There is a new environment; a groomer to learn to trust; and a range of sometimes noisy tools being used on their body.

By adopting a 'little and often' approach we break the groom down into manageable chunks for an anxious dog. Using counter-conditioning techniques, both at home and in The Parlour, and working at the pace of your dog, we can groom them in a way that makes them feel safe and in control.

Our approach for anxious dogs falls under the Get Used to Grooming umbrella, and uses the same principles that we adopt for Puppy Grooming which mean that we work gently with your dog to help them overcome their anxiety, rather than force them through a groom and exacerbating their fear.

Below are some examples of a dog called Astro. He comes in every couple of weeks for an hour, for consistency, and to make sure his coat is being looked after. During our grooming sessions I try to advance the groom little-by-little. In Astro's case I work off a low table, which means he is free to jump off any time he feels too far out of his comfort zone. These methods are consistent with the Fear-Free approach, and I am an accredited Fear-Free pet professional, and an Approved Taking The Grrr Out of Grooming professional.

If you think your dog could benefit from this kind of approach, please do get in touch for more details

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