How to Keep a Dog Calm While Grooming

Ziggy
November 4, 2021

As a pet parent, you’ve probably wondered if grooming your dog is actually necessary or if it’s more like a spa day for humans. Well, it’s true that grooming is relaxing and enjoyable for most pups, the real purpose is to maintain your dog’s hygiene. It keeps your fur baby smelling and looking great in the short-term and healthy in the long-run. If you want to learn more, check out our post on the basics and benefits of regular grooming.

That said, meeting a groomer at a salon may not always be a pleasant experience for your pup. The new environment and stimuli can cause emotions to run high for both you and your four-legged best friend. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to prime your pup for a better and more comforting experience. First, we recommend finding a groomer who can provide a one on one service ratio, so the same person is with your fur baby every step of the way. At Barkbus, not only do our pet stylists provide one on one grooming, but we’ll also come straight to you to provide an excellent service right outside your home!

After finding a groomer you can trust, it’s important to take additional steps to prepare your pup for a new experience and keep them calm throughout. By better preparing your dog for the known stressors of grooming, they will be less reactive and acclimate more quickly.

Getting your dog groomed is necessary for their overall health and wellness, but it doesn't have to be stressful. To help you create a more positive experience for your fur baby, we’ve put together a few tips on how to calm a dog for grooming.

How to Groom an Anxious Dog

It takes 1-2 hours to groom a dog using a mobile service like Barkbus, and can take up to five hours at traditional salons, but that timeline starts to stretch when nerves come into play. If you’re meeting a groomer for the first time or your pup had a bad previous experience, there’s likely to be a high level of anxiety for everyone involved. It’s a natural reaction, so it’s easy to think that there’s nothing you can do to improve the situation. But in reality, there’s a lot you can do! Check out our tips for grooming a nervous dog.

Get Familiar

Prepare your pup for the experience by introducing them to foreign stimuli beforehand. While it’s impossible to replicate the whole grooming experience, think about the things you can do at home to get your dog familiar with new sounds and sensations. It could be as simple as using a hair dryer or electric clippers around them to familiarize them with the noise, or giving them a bath at home to get them comfortable with the process. 

Does your dog hate getting his or her nails done? Try this: when watching TV or hanging with your pup, gently tap the remote on their nails to get them accustomed to their nails being touched. This is especially critical to puppies! 

Make It Comfortable

Take note of your dog’s emotional state before, during, and after the experience, but also take steps to keep them relaxed throughout. Think about what you can do to help ease their stress and make the experience more enjoyable. Perhaps you can bring your pup’s favorite toy or blanket to calm their nerves and reduce their anxiety. Dogs are very aware of energy, and often adopt their parents’ energy too, so a calm pet parent will lead to a calmer pup. Whatever you do, be sure to let your dog explore the space before getting groomed, as it helps them to feel safer and more relaxed in a new setting.

Consider Timing

The best way to keep your dog still while grooming is, unsurprisingly, to get their energy out prior to the appointment. It’s a good idea to schedule a solid amount of physical activity, like playtime or a long walk, before the groomer comes to you. On the flip side, consider the timing of the daily rituals that you and your pup share. Dogs are very habitual and come to expect certain things at certain times of the day, so try not to schedule a grooming appointment during those times. The disruption in routine will increase your dog’s anxiety, making the process more difficult and time-consuming.

Use Treats

By now, you’re probably wondering what to give your dog to calm them down for grooming. The answer is one of the more effective training tools around: tasty treats! Reward your dog consistently to provide positive reinforcement for remaining calm during and after grooming. This can also serve as a great distraction while grooming, but the idea is for your pup to eventually associate getting groomed with the positive experience of getting treats. After enough time, neuroplasticity takes effect and reduces or eliminates the need for a reward.

Be Patient

The reality is that it may take some time for your dog to feel comfortable in a new space, but if you remain calm, your pup will be more likely to feel at ease too. 

One additional benefit to the services we provide at Barkbus is that we’ll come straight to you, and all grooming occurs from the comfort of your home — whether that’s in your driveway or right on the street in front of your home!

Dogs are more intuitive than we give them credit for, and they often pick-up on our emotions before we do, so it’s important to be mindful of your energy. It can actually be a self-fulfilling prophecy – your dog is anxious because you’re anxious about them being anxious. The good news is that if you stay calm, cool, and collected, then your pup will most likely do the same.

If you’re looking for a trusted dog groomer, take advantage of the Barkbus mobile grooming services today!

WRITTEN BY
Ziggy

More From the Ruff Draft