Canada boasts a heart-warming 5.9 million dogs, but winter snow, springtime mud and summer burrs make for one tangled coat. However, if your pet is fearful and anxious about grooming, you've got big problems. Here are some possible solutions.
1. Redirect Bad Behavior
While you might be inclined to coddle and coo your misbehaving dog, sympathy isn't going to teach him to change his ways. If he sneers and struggles, give him a quick "No!" that reminds him he should be cooperating. Listening to your firm orders can actually be reassuring to him, because it shows him you're in charge and the situation is under control. Ask the groomer to use the same words and tone as you, for consistency in training.
2. Conduct A Few Meet And Greets
You can't blame a dog for being apprehensive about a new place and new people, it's just his nature. Prior to showing up for the actual grooming appointment, introduce your pet to the people who will be shampooing and shaving him. If possible, arrange to meet the staff in their parking lot right before they open or close, so your dog can sniff them out on his own terms, rather than being dragged inside.
3. Don't Just Drop Off Your Dog
So long as you remain composed and don't interfere with the grooming itself, your dog will benefit from having you close by during appointments. Although it's often more convenient to leave him on his own while you run other errands, this could exacerbate his anxiety.
4. Practice Grooming Routines At Home
Call your dog into the bathroom while the tub or shower is running and ask him to "Sit!" and "Stay!" for a minute. Run an electric razor in his proximity and talk to him while you have your hair dryer blowing. Also, touch his paws and nails more, so he understands this isn't too invasive or cause to protest.
5. Try Spacing Out The Grooming Tasks
If it can be arranged, schedule a few shorter trips to the groomer, instead of one long one. For example, run him in real quick to have his nails clipped this week, then have him bathed the next. Especially for serious anxiety issues, getting the ordeal over faster can help him cope.
6. Get An Easier And Faster Styling Job For Your Dog
Some dogs require more lengthy and elaborate grooming sessions, while others can get away with a quick snip and trim. Whatever is faster may be best, so consider a new and abbreviated styling if your dog's coat permits.
7. Schedule Appointments When The Groomer Isn't Busy
If you can be the first or last appointment of the day, you may avoid larger crowds that can aggravate your pet's anxiety. Arrive as close to the time he will be seen as possible, too, as the wait will only build on his agitation.
8. Treat Your Dog To Animal Massage
Between grooming visits, your pooch could enjoy a massage, which should show him that not every outing is cause for panic. Massage for animals works tired muscles and eases tension the same way it does for humans. You could also try home massage techniques right before leaving and in the waiting room.
9. Keep Up With Problematic Coats At Home
The more you can brush out matted fur at home, the less time the groomer will have to spend on it. Invest in a good brush and maintain a schedule for keeping your four-legged friend free from tangles, especially around the ears, between paws, where fur dangles off his tail and on his rear quarters.
10. Socialize Your Dog More
It's important to expose your dog to different people in different settings, as it teaches him how to negotiate his own emotions. Take him to pet stores that allow feline and canine customers, walk him on busy streets and let him be around odd noises, such as traffic and machinery.
11. Consider Obedience School
Sometimes, bad dog behavior calls for outside intervention. If necessary, sign your pet up for boot camp, where he'll learn to listen to other people, tolerate other animals and control himself under challenging circumstances.
12. Ask Your Vet About Special Medications
If all else fails, speak with your veterinarian about medicines for anxiety and aggression. Benzodiazepines, for example, can be given in varying doses for different levels of behavior problems when needed. Other remedies, such as Buspirone, need to be taken on a daily basis. Your vet can help you sort out the best option for you and your dog.
Helping your pet through anxiety and apprehension with the groomers should translate into improvements in other areas of life as well, for both of you. With patience, time and diligence, he should feel proud to look so clean and stylish and you won't dread dragging him to appointments!
For more tips, contact a company like W.A.G.S. Wash and Groom Salon Ltd.