Stress-Free Grooming is a Partnership
The aim of any qualified groomer is to provide a stress-free environment in which a dog can be groomed, but that’s the easy bit! What takes knowledge, skill and oodles of patience is dealing with a dog who themself is not confident and sees every new experience as a challenge to overcome rather than an adventure to be enjoyed.
This requires training much the same as any other training you will do with your dog, be it toilet training or fetching a ball. Having a confident, well adjusted dog, who is relaxed in every situation doesn’t just happen, the experiences have to become familiar and with familiarity comes understanding and then confidence.
It sounds simple, just take your dog to the groomers but in reality, this is often an area of familiarisation that is overlooked when fur babies are puppies.
Owners often wait until a dog needs a full groom or a nail clip which may, depending on breed be close to being a year old. Introducing a teenage, or older dog to a new environment can be an assault on their senses with new smells and sounds. It is better to start early and take regular trips while your dog is young and learning all about life. Just like any other training, being at the groomers needs to be fun with lots of positive reinforcement. At the same time as looking for a vet for your puppy, look for a local, qualified groomer too. Give them a call and ask if you can book your puppy in for groomer socialisation or a puppy pampers session.
The positive payback is that a clean, well-groomed dog always gets attention and cuddles so its win-win for them.
How do groomers provide a stress-free environment?
A friendly atmosphere is important for both your pet and you. If your dog feels that you are relaxed and smiling, they will feel more confident in themselves. Nowadays most salons are open plan, and this gives a dog something to look at and engage with as well as having small distractions to capture their attention.
A cool salon with air conditioning is great in providing an environment with a stable temperature, meaning dogs don’t have to respond to changes that can potentially generate stress.
Qualified groomers have been specifically trained in maintaining and responding to the welfare of your dog and have many tricks up their sleeves including appropriate handling, calming sprays and massage techniques. They will also adjust tools and equipment to be suitable to work with your dog and of course, very important, cuddles are freely available.
How can you help?
Your pet will be looking to you for encouragement and reinforcement when any new experience is encountered. If you are nervous or unsure about what the grooming process entails, then put in a call to your groomer prior to arriving at the salon. Your dog will pick up vibes from you so making sure you allay any worries to ensure you arrive with confidence, will in turn be picked up and copied by your dog.
Make sure your dog has been to the toilet. Groomers expect little accidents in the salon so this is not for their benefit, but your dog will become stressed and uncomfortable if they need to go to the toilet and upset if they make a mess. A walk before they go into the salon can easily avoid this.
Leave plenty of time to get to your appointment. Avoid running late and getting flustered as your dog will pick up on this and that all important hand over to the groomer will be rushed making your dog uneasy. When you do handover your dog, make sure you are relaxed and leave without fussing. Tell them “You’ll see them later” or similar in a positive way.
Ensure your groomer knows about your dog’s likes and dislikes so they can handle your dog and manage the groom in a way that promotes their confidence rather than reduces it. Things like ticklish feet, avoiding patting the head, soreness on a paw, anything, no matter how small can help avoid upsetting a harmonious grooming experience for your dog.
What does your groomer know to help?
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes – over 200 registered breeds and lots of breed combinations. Your groomer knows how to safely handle long legs, short noses, drop ears, long tails, cow hocks the list is endless. They also know about breed traits; why terriers don’t like their feet being touched, why rectangular dogs get nervous on tables, why some breeds suffer more than others with separation anxiety when their owners leave and why some dogs love that bath and others are agitated by the dryer air whipping around them. These are all very common situations in a grooming salon and a qualified groomer has knowledge and ability in dealing with all these situations plus many more.
Remember, a dog that is confident in a grooming situation will have a stress-free experience. The confidence will come from their training and socialising; also, the owner’s manner and tone of voice and of course the groomer who will use their vast knowledge of different temperaments and breed traits to work with your dog so that it has the best experience while in their care.
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