Grooming is a necessity, but, unfortunately, it can be stressful for some dogs… but it doesn’t have to be! Using some basic techniques, you can train your dog to like being groomed. Here’s how:
Create Positive Associations
If the bathtub brings on anxiety, or if your dog flees as soon as she sees nail clippers or ear wipes, turn those things into positives. On days when you don’t groom, give her little bits of treats for being in the bathroom or for sitting near the nail clippers. No pressure, and no grooming. Your dog will start to associate those items with yummy bites of food.
Get Her Used to Being Touched
When your pup is relaxed, gently rub her ears, massage her paws, or touch her tail. Some dogs just aren't comfortable with handling, so make sure it's low-pressure and stress-free. Regular, gentle handling should start with your pup as young as possible. But, if you adopted an older dog or are starting this practice later in her life, no worries! With lots of rewards, gentle handing, and a ton of patience, your dog can become comfy with handling and grooming.
Reward Like Crazy
On grooming days, plan on decreasing your pup’s breakfast or dinner because she’s going to get a flood of treats! A happy stomach can overcome a lot for a dog, so be prepared to dish out the goods. This is the time to break out those extra special treats. For my dog, Cooper, who was terrified of nail trims, that special treat is cheese. He normally gets healthy, dog-only treats, so the cheese made the nail trims exciting for him.
Most Importantly: Be Patient
With Cooper and his nail trim fears, it took months of repeating steps one and two before he stayed calm for his trims. Now, knowing he’s going to get his fill of cheese, he gets excited when the clippers come out of the grooming drawer! The same can happen for you and your dog with time and lots of patience.
Always go at your dog’s pace, and be sure to cut back on her meals on training days to keep her fit and trim!