5 Ways to Help Your Dog Have a Good Experience at the Groomer’s
1. Take him to go potty before going in. Your dog will be in a different or new environment for possibly several hours. Do him (and your groomer) a favor by letting him go potty before you get there.
2. Walk confidently with him from your car into the shop. Don’t keep telling them, “I know this is scary, but you’ll be ok.” Dogs pick up on your nervous-ness. They read your body language. That is often why they become nervous themselves. Take a deep breath and release a long exhale, relax your arm if you have them on a leash. Most groomers became groomers because they love animals. Find a groomer that you feel cares about you and your dog and connect with them a little before and after grooms so that you feel comfortable leaving your dog in their care for several hours. Initiate a feeling of calmness (not necessarily excitement) within yourself and I guarantee your dog will feel that.
3. If he is nervous, do not coddle him. (i.e., hugging to your chest, holding them and telling them it’s going to be alright, giving them treats) This one is the hardest to do. I see owners doing it all the time and even I find it tough to do with my own dogs. But I have to see it as leading by example and doing the best for them. It’s like leaving a child at daycare. If you start to cry when they cry, they will only feel more scared and panicked. When a dog shows he’s nervous at the groomer’s (i.e. trembling, not wanting to go inside), by coddling and hugging and giving treats, in a dog’s mind, you are rewarding this behavior. You are telling them that this is how you want them to act. They are thinking, oh, if I shake a bit, I will get a treat or a pet and this must be what my owner wants. Act calm and confidently hand the dog (or the leash) over to the groomer. Show the dog that you are comfortable with this. Give any treats you may have to the groomer to give to the dog once he is in a calm state.
4. Bring some of his treats from home. Which leads to my next tip. In my shop, I always have treats for dogs. I love to give positive reinforcement, especially for dogs that are very food motivated and are nervous about nail clippings. I also like to give every dog a treat (if they’ll accept) when the groom is finished. That way they have a positive association with the grooming and with my shop before they leave. Many dogs are excited to come back here. If your dog is a picky eater, or has dietary restrictions, try to bring some of their own treats from home. If you know your dog has an affinity for a certain type of food, such as chicken thighs or carrots, cut up a bit of it and put it in a baggie to hand to the groomer when you get there. I’m a big fan of positive associations and reinforcement.
5. Give him a few drops of Bach’s Rescue Remedy for Pets. Also, a drop of lavender oil placed on the pad of the paw or the inside tip of the ear. These can be administered at home before getting in the car to go anywhere, so that by the time you get to the shop, they have had time to take effect. Both of these are options I offer at my shop; they are all-natural ways of lessening stress and anxiety for your pet. I have seen amazing results with just a few drops of the Rescue Remedy and if I know a nervous dog is coming in, I’m sure to put a few drops of lavender oil in my aromatherapy diffuser and on my grooming table.
Just remember to do what’s best for your dog and find a groomer that you and your dog connect with. Good luck!
Lindsey Barr is a Certified Professional Groomer and yoga teacher and is the owner of Powder Hounds Grooming Salon in Steamboat Springs, CO. Find more helpful articles for you and your dog on powderhoundsgroomingsalon.com.