There are things that happen in our lives that we don’t like and situations we are afraid of. But the more prepared we are, the more secure we feel. Behavior under stress is exaggerated. If your dog is normally calm and confident, in your groomer’s shop she may be shy, cautious, panicky, or aggressive.
She is in a place with new smells, unfamiliar sights, strange sounds, and different surfaces to walk on. She also picks up on the emotions of the other people and animals surrounding her. She needs your help and guidance to prepare her for new things.
If your dog spends the majority of her time in your house and yard and does not meet people outside your family members, then chances are that she will be nervous in or fearful of new situations. Getting her used to new sounds, sights, smells, and flooring will not only help her at the groomer’s shop, but it will help become a well-adjusted and calmer dog at home.
Introduce your dog to people of all ages who wear different kinds of clothing and who carry all sorts of objects. Take her to different environments. Let her walk on new surfaces (concrete, dirt, rocks even mud ugh!) and let her see and hear different sights and sounds such as trucks backfiring, motorcycles, umbrellas opening, and children playing.
Obedience training is trust training your dog trusts you to keep her safe when you are her leader. You set guide-lines and boundaries for her, and she feels safe within them. It gives her some-thing familiar to do in an unfamiliar set-ting and helps calm her down.
Train your dog to sit, stay, and stand on command. For the sit command, your dog is standing in front of you. Take a treat and hold it at her nose. Slowly move the treat just above her head between her eyes. She should follow the treat with her nose, and that movement will make her head come up and her rear end go to the floor. Praise her and give her the treat.
For the stand (now that she is sitting), hold the treat just in front of her nose and bring your hand towards your body so she has to get up to reach for the treat. When she stands, praise her and give her the treat. For the stay, just continue to give her treats when she is in either of these positions until you release her. Begin making her stay just a few seconds. If she moves, guide her back to the exact same spot.
You know how terrific your dog looks after she has visited her canine beautician, but do you know all the things your groomer does to get her to look that way? Your groomer begins by brushing your dog and getting the mats out. Then he clips her before her bath and may express her anal glands.
The temperature of the bath water is warm. He wets her all over and then begins to shampoo. He pays special attention to cleaning inside the ears, around the eyes and mouth, between the pads of her feet, and around the anal area. Then he puts a conditioner on her and rinses it off.
Next he towels her off and then either dries her with a hand-held dryer or puts her in a crate with a dryer. After that, he begins brushing and combing her coat. During this entire process, he is checking for parasites (such as fleas and ticks) on her skin.
Then come the final touches. He cleans her ears and removes the hair. He cleans the tear stains. Then he cuts the hair between the pads of his feet and around her anus and groin. He trims and files her nails. Then a final hand scissoring and brush and comb out.
HANDLING: While you are at home, you can handle your dog as your groomer would during grooming. Choose a quiet time and a quiet place, and give her treats during this whole process. Begin by just touching all parts of her body as if you are giving her an all-over body massage. Scratch her tummy, under her chin, and behind her ears. Pet her with long, gentle strokes. As she becomes comfortable with that, touch her ears, look inside her ears, stroke her muzzle. Pick up her paws, run your hands down her legs, gently squeeze her feet, toes, and tail.
CLIPPING NAILS: Some dogs do not like having their nails clipped. Take some wooden matchsticks, and cut the match-sticks to get your dog used to the sound, giving her a treat with each cut. Handle your dog’s feet several times a day, giving her a scrumptious treat as you touch them. Then take the nail clipper out and put it on the floor near your dog. Give her a treat every time she looks at the clipper. Pick it up and slowly bring it closer to her giving her treats the whole time. Hold your dog‘s foot and put the matchstick underneath her foot and cut the matchstick. When she gets used to this, then put the clipper to her nails and pretend to cut them.
THE WATER: Sometimes the first experience that dogs have had with water is when they go to the groomer, and, in a word, they freak out. So get her used to the water at home. Leash her and put her in the sink or in the bathtub or even on the ground. Splash warm water on her feet and give her treats. Start working your way up her legs with the water, a little bit at a time, and then the rest of her body. There’s nothing that says that you have to do this all in one lesson. Ideally, you want to stop before she is uncomfortable or begins to struggle. If she has a nervous temperament, then start really small by doing only one paw at a time.
THE SOUNDS: The two sounds to get her used to are the sounds of the hair clippers and the dryer. Begin with the dryer. Put the dryer several feet from her. Turn it on and off very quickly. Toss her a treat every time it is on. As she acclimates to the sound, leave it on for a few more seconds and gradually it move closer to her. Remember the treats! When you finally get close to her, let it blow on the least sensitive part of her body and give her a treat. Leave it on for longer periods. When she is used to the dryer repeat the entire process again with an electric razor or other appliance that simulates the sound of hair clippers.
THE TABLE: Get her used to being on a raised surface. Several times a day, pick her up and place her on a table, a countertop, your washer or dryer, or some other raised surface on top of which you have put a rubber mat.
THE CRATE: Make her want to go into the crate. Put her favorite toys in the crate and close the door so she is outside and the toys are inside next to the door. Now she wants to go into the crate to get her toys. Open the door and let her in to get them. Leave the door open. Gradually put them further back so she has to go further inside to get them. Do the same thing with her food, and put her dish further back. Begin swinging the door while she is eating. As she gets accustomed to the noise, then close it for just a short period of time. Slowly lengthen the time the door is closed.