How to Help Your Dog with Grooming

Training Your Dog To Be A Good Grooming Clientdog groomed

People often wonder why they pay more to get their dog groomed than they might for their own haircut. One of the many reasons is that grooming dogs is hard! Groomers spend their days wrestling dogs into bathtubs, trying to get dogs to stay still while trimming their coat, all while trying not to get bitten, scratched, peed or pooped on.  If you want to become your groomer’s favorite client, work on teaching your dog some of these husbandry behaviors. Husbandry behaviors are behaviors you can teach your dog that allow them to voluntarily participate in their own health care in a less stressful way.

Here are some behaviors you can train to make them a better grooming client:

  • Stand: We often teach our dogs sit and down, while heavily rewarding our dogs for offering these behaviors, but teaching them to stand on command can be just as important, especially at the groomers. Watch this video to see how to train your dog to stand on command.
  • Stand Still: Great, you got your dog to stand, but that does the groomer no good if your dog stands for a second then sits back down or becomes all wiggly and excited. To teach your dog to stand still, start extending the amount of time between when your dog stands and when they get the treat, and then keep treating while they stand to encourage them to stay in the position and not move. While treating to keep your dog to stand still, introduce the command for the behavior, such as “still” or “stay.” When you are done, use a release word to let them know it is OK to move.
  • Nail Trims: Train your dog to be a pro at nail trims using the tips in this video! The trick is to take it slow and make the experience positive and relaxed. If you are experienced with a clicker, it’s highly recommended to use a clicker to train your dog to be comfortable with nail trims.
  • Handling: Groomers usually have to touch your pet all over in order to properly bathe and clip them, so it is important to desensitize your dog to being touched in different parts of the body. Many dogs are sensitive to their ears, faces, and paws, and some dogs don’t like their stomachs or parts of their back to be touched if they were not properly socialized as a puppy or if they had a painful experience in the past. Identify your dog’s sensitive areas and then use clicker training or other positive reinforcement methods to get them used to being touched in that area, similar to the methods seen in the nail trimming video. Again, take it slow and keep it positive! Be sure to let your groomer know if your dog has sensitive areas so that they can approach them cautiously.

Finally, one of the most important things you can do at home to ensure your dog is a good grooming client is to stay on top of your dog’s grooming! Many dogs learn to dislike the groomers because they may go in matted, tangled, or with overgrown nails. This can make the grooming process painful for the dog and create a negative association with being groomed. Regular brushing at home, keeping nails trimmed and filed down, and keeping your dog on a grooming schedule appropriate for their breed and coat type will help make grooming a more positive and relaxing experience for everyone.