How to Relax a Nervous Dog Before Grooming
Grooming can be stressful for a dog and even the pet parent when the pup is uncomfortable about the experience. Preparing your dog in advance, however, is the key. There are certain things that you could do to make him/her more comfortable during these sessions. Here we will share some simple steps you can take to calm down your stressed dog before taking them for a grooming session.
Understand the Cause of Your Dog’s Anxiety
The first step is figuring out what exactly makes your dog so nervous. Some common triggers include:
- Being handled by strangers – Dogs wary of new people may become frightened when an unfamiliar groomer tries to pick them up and handle them. This is especially true for rescues or dogs that weren’t well socialized.
- The grooming environment – Loud noise from dryers, other barking dogs, and strange smells can cause sensory overload for some dogs.
- Being restrained – Many dogs dislike being placed on grooming tables and held still for long periods of time. They may resist restraint and handling.
- Negative past experiences – If your dog was mistreated, injured, or frightened at a grooming appointment, it can cause lasting anxiety.
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Try Calming Products
There are a variety of over-the-counter calming aids made specifically for anxious dogs. These products contain natural ingredients that help relax muscles, relieve stress, and reduce excitability. Options include:
- Calming chews or treats – These edible supplements contain calming compounds like melatonin, L-tryptophan, chamomile, and hemp. Give your dog one 30-60 minutes before going to the groomer.
- Calming sprays and wipes – Lightly spritz these solutions on your dog’s coat or wipe paws/belly before the appointment. They contain soothing pheromones that provide comfort.
- Calming collars – These collar diffusers release calming pheromones over time to reduce stress. Have your dog wear one on grooming day.
Pre-grooming exercises can help your dog feel relaxed and tired during the appointment. Take your pooch for a long walk or play a vigorous game of fetch in your backyard. Expending pent-up energy beforehand promotes calmness.
Use a Calming Cap
Calming caps or hoods are breathable mesh that covers your dog’s eyes, muting visual stimulation. This tunnel vision effect can relax dogs that get overstimulated seeing strangers, unfamiliar environments, and grooming tools. Introduce the cap at home first with treats so your pup accepts it.
Ask for Accommodations
Call the grooming facility beforehand to ask about any special accommodations they offer for anxious dogs. Many pet grooming services are willing to work with nervous pets by:
- Scheduling early morning or late evening appointments when things are quieter
- Allowing the owner to stay during the grooming session
- Using your dog’s own leash and collar
- Taking extra time and care with handling
- Providing more frequent breaks
Use Comforting Scent Cues
Dogs find familiar, comforting scents very relaxing. Bring your dog’s favorite toy or blanket with your scent on it for grooming day. You can also lightly spray their crate or leash with a calming pheromone product beforehand. These familiar smells provide security.
Practice Positive Association
The more positive experiences your dog has at the groomer, the less anxious they will be over time. Try visiting the best dog grooming services occasionally just to provide treats and praise without getting groomed. You want to build up pleasant associations with the location and staff.
Remain Calm Yourself
Dogs are very in tune with our emotions. If you get stressed about taking your dog to the groomer, they will pick up on that energy and become more anxious. Focus on staying relaxed – your chill vibe will rub off. Don’t coddle or comfort a nervous dog; just act neutral.
Bringing a high-strung dog to the groomer can be difficult, but with some planning and preparation, you can help make the experience less stressful. Talk to your groomer about your dog’s needs, use calming aids, exercise beforehand, and work on creating positive associations over time. Search for pet grooming services near me for an experienced and trustworthy groomer who can provide quality service and care for your pet. Even the most nervous pups can learn to relax and tolerate grooming with patience and gentle handling.