Pawsitive grooming

The importance of grooming is well known to keep your pooch good looking and healthy. But not all pooches would take to grooming sessions positively. Here’s how to keep the stress out.

Early start…

It is very important that dogs learn to get used to grooming sessions starting from a young age. It’s a good


Samantha Laws with Maisie

idea to bathe your puppy for the first time when she is a few months old so that she gets used to bath, water, getting dried, brushed, getting nails trimmed, etc. If your dog is a breed who will require regular haircuts, groom her while she is standing on a table. Make sure the dog isn’t able to jump off and is supervised at all times!

Grooming etiquettes…

Dogs’ behaviour during grooming will depend on various things such as whether they have been to a grooming salon before, and if so their experiences while there and if they are groomed at home, their general temperament and the mood on the day. When grooming a dog for the first time, you should always take time to assess the dogs’ general temperament beforehand as this will give you a good idea of how the dog is going to react to being groomed.

Handling the touch-me-not’s…

When you are brushing your dog, she may not like it and may try to get away. If she decides to protest when you touch the dog, backing off can give the dog the wrong message and will learn that people actually want to be informed of a dog’s wishes through growls, snarls and snapping teeth! However, if you overreact and are aggressive with the dog for protesting, you can make the dog more defensive. The best way to deal with a dog who doesn’t want to be groomed is to take it slowly and as much as possible ignore the bad behaviour so that the dog learns that trying to bite or throwing a tantrum isn’t going to get her own way, eventually the dog will give up and they usually realise that grooming is actually nice! Talk to her in a calm tone and give her treats when she allows you to groom her.

Handling the nervous kinds…

Dogs may be nervous or scared when they are first groomed and this could be because they have had a bad experience, are not well socialised or just naturally nervous. The dog will show her nervousness by trying to hide, avoiding eye contact, laying on her back and possibly even urinating. Some nervous dogs may also be fear aggressive and may try to bite if they are pushed too far, so you should be especially careful with nervous dogs.

The best way to deal with a nervous dog is to take things slowly but be confident, at first it is best just to try and make friends with the dog, maybe sit on the floor so you are at her level and try to get her to interact with you, using treats or toys or whatever the particular dog likes. Once you start grooming the dog, you should introduce everything slowly and make no sudden movements as this will make the dog realise that you are not just going to suddenly do something nasty. Also talk the dog through everything you are doing in a calm soothing voice, she won’t know what you’re saying but it will help her to stay calm. The more often the dog is groomed and handled, the more she will learn to trust you and grooming will become easier and more enjoyable.

Handling the hyperactive ones…

Dogs may also be excited about being groomed and may be hyperactive, jumping around and barking which can make the dog difficult to groom. If possible, take her for a good walk or run before grooming and try and get rid of excess energy. While grooming, be calm and try to make the experience as relaxing as possible. Teach the dog that overexcited behaviour gets them ignored while calm behaviour gets them attention.

Brushing can be fun too…

When brushing she may try to bite the brush, if this happens you should introduce the dog to brushing gently using a soft brush to show the dog that brushing isn’t painful and work your way by using a more effective brush or comb. The same may be true for using clippers as it makes a strange noise and vibrates which may make the dog unsure. If she is wary of the clippers let her have a good look and sniff the clipper while it is turned off and then run it over the body. Once the dog is happy with the clippers, you can turn it on (without a blade) and repeat the process until she is happy with the noise and vibrations.

Making bathing a thrill…

The most common problem is that dogs try to jump out of the bath and get away from water. In this case, you should turn the water pressure right down to make it a stream rather than a spray and start at the back legs, slowly working your way up the body until the dog is used to the water.

Once she is used to the grooming routine, you shouldn’t have any problems and most dogs enjoy it so much they may well fall asleep!

(Samantha Laws has been a professional Canine Stylist since 2007 and running her own business ‘Doggy Styling’. A member of British Dog Groomers Association and English Groomers Group, she takes part in grooming competitions around the UK. She can be contacted at:

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