How to make grooming a positive experience for your dog

How to make grooming a positive experience for your dog

While we all love our dogs and want to treat them like furry children, we must remember that they are a different species and have different psychological needs than we do. Dogs look to their humans for guidance and leadership, so your reactions count. If you’re calm and collected, chances are good your dog will pick up on this and behave accordingly. Of course, this is just the first step to a positive grooming experience. Follow the tips below to ensure your dog’s visit is as stress-free as possible:

Choose the right groomer

Is the salon cage-free, where dogs have access to each other, or are they kenneled for their safety? Does the groomer offer one-on-one appointments to limit time spent at the salon, or does she take more than one dog at a time? Once you’ve asked some preliminary questions, visit the groomer and check out the salon. Is the groomer receptive and informative? Is the salon clean and presentable?

Exercise your dog before his appointment

If your dog is high energy, it is always a good idea to use up some of that energy before a grooming appointment. A structured walk allows the dog to eliminate as well as establish a positive state of mind before heading to the grooming table.

Remain calm throughout

Dogs are very perceptive. If you are anxious when bringing your dog to the groomer, you will project those feelings to him. Walk confidently, with purpose, and limit your conversation with him.

Don’t reward unwanted behaviours

If your dog starts to exhibit signs of stress or anxiety, don’t reinforce that elevated energy state with treats or physical rewards. Ignore any behaviour that is not contributing to the dogs’ well-being, and offer affection only when the dog is calm.

Practice at home

Sometimes, dogs have an aversion to certain aspects of the grooming process – blow drying, bathing, nail clipping, brushing, etc. You can try desensitizing your dog at home by repeating the problem task in a comfortable environment. Just remember, the goal is to have your dog accept the process, so you must be diligent!

Try essential oils

It is important to keep your dog from getting overexcited even before you arrive at the groomer’s. Using essential oils in the car on the way to the appointment can help keep him relaxed.

Schedule regular appointments

Any groomer will tell you that dogs who visit the salon frequently are easier to work with. This is because the dog and groomer build trust, and the dog knows the routine and what to expect. Taking your dog to be groomed more often means he is less likely to become matted, have overgrown toenails, excessive ear hair etc., which means the process is not as invasive or unpleasant.

Talk to your groomer

It is okay to express any concerns about your dog. Your groomer is the professional, and can often offer suggestions on what will help make your furry friend more comfortable.


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Becki Selby owns a busy grooming salon in Peterborough, Ontario and serves as a sales consultant for an all-natural pet health company. She has worked with animals since 2000 in a variety of capacities, including veterinary assistant, pet food retailer, and pet store manager. Becki has been involved with conformation dog shows and has worked with dog trainers. Her passion is advocating for animal health and welfare.