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Dog Behavior at the Grooming Shop

Over the past year, we have gained quite a few new clients. Many of whom, have either never owned a dog or have never owned a dog that needed regular grooming. The Covid-19 adoption boom is real and we are here for it! (For the record, it is probably the only “positive” thing to come out of this pandemic, so we’ll take it.)

One of the main concerns expressed by these new dog owners has been fear of bad behavior while being groomed. We want to thank all of you for being responsible dog owners and for being aware that all dogs have the potential to be difficult for the grooming process, but we are here to tell you a secret:

You do not have a bad dog if your dog is not perfectly behaved while being groomed!

Dog Behavior at the Grooming Shop: Things to Consider

The grooming process at Planet Groom includes: bathing, blow-drying, the haircut, itself, nail trimming, and finishing touches.

Not all dogs enjoy being in water, but this is especially true when it comes to being bathed. This may seem counterintuitive for some who have been taught that dogs inherently love to swim, but it has been our experience that this is not the case and even if it is, does not always translate into loving bath time.

Blow drying is loud. It is loud for humans, so you can imagine how loud it is for a dog with significantly better hearing than ours. The sound of a high-velocity blow dryer can cause a dog a great deal of stress, understandably, so we give dogs (especially those who have never been groomed before) some grace when gauging their response.

Nail trimming seems to be a major source of contention for so many dog owners. Dogs can be sensitive about having their paws handled and the most common issue we face is a dog pulling his or her arm away or thrashing about on the groomer’s table. Some dogs can become aggressive and may require a muzzle during nail trims, but as with all other aspects of the process, we do our best to never use muzzles unless absolutely necessary.

So, if some dogs have a strong aversion to the use of the shower hose in the bath, how do we respond? We change course. We use buckets. Some dogs cannot tolerate the high-velocity dryer. What do we do? We adjust the strength of the dryer. If that doesn’t work, we let the dog sit in a cubby and dry under a slow, stand dryer. Does it take a bit longer? Absolutely, but the stress that the other dryer may cause for a dog that is already not responding well to its use is not worth it to us. A dog’s health and safety will always be our paramount concern. I'm a paragraph. Click once to begin entering your own content. You can change my font, size, line height, color, and more by highlighting part of me and selecting the options from the toolbar.

You do not Have a BAD DOG!

We liken a first grooming appointment to a child getting a full haircut for the first time. We use positive reinforcement to acknowledge behavior that we like and do our best to make the entire grooming experience as comfortable for our doggo clients, as possible. We move slowly and do our best to recognize any stress signals, at which point, we re-evaluate and change our strategy.

Some dogs have severe anxiety just being in our shop. Being around other dogs who are barking, along with the noises of the dryers, general activity, and fear they may have leading to the groom, itself, may be insurmountable for some dogs, and you know what? That’s okay. We always try to work with dogs to the best of our ability and sometimes, our amended processes are not sufficient in making a dog comfortable enough to be groomed without causing significant stress that could lead to dangerous reactions; reactions that may put the dog and/or the groomer at risk.

When this is the case, our last resort is to suggest a sedative. We like to say that a veterinary prescribed sedative is the human equivalent of having a glass of wine to take the edge off. If a sedative is the only option that prevents a dog from responding in a harmful way, we fully endorse it.

Having a dog who does not enjoy being groomed or a specific aspect of the process does not mean that you have a bad dog. So many of our clients respond to our behavior reports by saying, “But he/she is such a good girl/boy, at home!”, which we do not doubt, in the least! But consider all of the new experiences they have while with us! These may be things your dog has never encountered or you have never seen your dog encounter and so there is no basis for their response to it. That’s okay! It doesn’t mean that your dog is “good” or “bad”; it simply means there are some things we can work on to better their grooming experience! 

How to Help at Home

Check out this great article that offers tips to help you to prepare your dog for his or her visit to the grooming shop.

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