Grooming an anxious dog? Try these tips
Whether it’s trimming nails or trying to bathe a dog, if you’re a dog groomer then you probably see anxious dogs on a daily basis and if you have an anxious dog then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about! No matter how experienced you are, how good at your job, and how much effort you put into keeping a dog calm, there are some dogs that simply don’t like to be groomed. Maybe they’ve had a bad experience. Or perhaps the sound of clippers makes them nervous. It could be a lot of things. Fortunately, there are some easy ways to help calm nervous dogs.
A little bribe never hurts
Bribery may be illegal with humans but, when it comes to dogs, a little bribery will often get you what you want and there are no laws against it. Many dogs are very food-motivated. If you’re grooming a dog who is only slightly anxious then you can frequently help him overcome his nervousness by giving him a treat reward for being a good boy (or girl). This is a great way to help a puppy when he’s getting his first “big boy” hair cut or having his nails trimmed. If he’s never had a bad experience and he’s simply a little uncertain you can ease him through the entire grooming process by giving him a treat at each step. Clip a nail — give a treat. Clip another nail — another treat. And so on. Many puppies can’t wait to jump up on the grooming table if you practice this method.
Music soothes the savage…
If you’re bathing a dog who is seriously afraid, such as a dog who freezes up as soon as the water hits him, singing and crooning to him can help. Playing music in the grooming salon is often relaxing to dogs. Some groomers find that dogs enjoy having a television with nature programming on in the shop. This may not take away all of their anxiousness but it can help relax some dogs. Grooming products with soothing natural scents, such as lavender, can also help calm a nervous dog. You may want to try something like a lavender between bath spritz. The pure essential oil will help to soothe your dog.
An all-natural solution
You may also wish to try an all-natural solution such as Sleepytime Tonic to help an anxious dog. Sleepytime Tonic is a relaxing tonic that is perfect to help calm a nervous dog. It’s a herbal and a Flower Essence-based formula that can ease your dog into a calmer more relaxed state. It contains valerian and scullcap, two herbs that have been used for centuries in Europe to encourage relaxation and sleep. If you’re using it for a dog that you’re going to groom you can put a couple of drops on a treat or place a few drops directly into the dog’s mouth. Sleepytime Tonic works in about 20 minutes so you can give a dog a treat with a few drops on it when he first arrives and he will be ready for a bath or grooming in just a few minutes.
Grooming can be very stressful for some dogs and Sleepytime Tonic can help relax the dog so he won’t be so distressed about the whole process. You will be able to trim the dog’s nails, clean his ears, bathe him and finish his grooming without causing him the kind of upset that disturbs some dogs so much. Sleepytime Tonic is perfectly safe and completely non-toxic. But of course, get permission from the dog’s owner first.
The finishing touch
Remember, too, that simple brushing is often relaxing for many dogs. Try to begin grooming with brushing and let the dog relax a little so he feels more comfortable before you spring something on him that could cause him to become anxious, such as trimming his nails. Finish up with treats and lots of petting. Don’t forget to tell your client dog what a good boy he’s been and how great he looks. He’ll be happy to see you next time.