So you have a dog and they either have never been groomed or don't like the grooming process. Whether you have a long haired breed that needs a haircut every so often or a short haired breed there are a few things that can help your dog have a good experience when being groomed.
When it comes to puppies touching your puppy all over is very important, they need to get used to having their body handled and realize that it's ok and they are safe. A great way to start this is gently taking your puppy's paw in your hand and keeping it while giving them a treat with your other hand. Doing this repeatedly helps them associate having their paws handled as a positive experience. This way it's not so scary when they're at the groomer. Another great idea is to get them used to having foreign objects touch their paw. I usually recommend people touching the paws and nails with a metal spoon while giving treats to help them not be afraid of nail trimmers touching their paws in the future. These tips are also helpful if you have a dog that doesn't like having their nails trimmed. Most of the time it is fear. Once we start to teach the dog that good things happen when getting their feet and nails done they won't be so fearful and have a less stressful experience. Starting with desensitizing them to having their paws and nails touched is a great first step. Start by gently holding your dogs paw and giving a high value treat repeatedly over and over again. It will feel daunting at first if they don't like it but when done consistently your pet will let you hold their feet and touch their nails and they'll be model citizens when getting their nails done in the grooming salon.
Maybe your dog is a long haired breed such as a Shih tzu or a Goldendoodle and they don't like having their face trimmed. A few things come in to play here. It's possible your dog is fearful of objects close to their eyes or that they don't like the sound/feel of the clippers on their head. It's also possible they don't like having their face or head held still.
To make sure your dog has a safe and less stressful experience there are a few things you can work on at home. First, if your dogs difficulty is having scissors or other objects near their eyes it's similar to the recommendation with nail trimming because we want them to associate the action with pleasant and happy things aka getting treats. So get out a metal spoon and use the handle to gently touch the eye corners or face of your dog. While doing so, give high value treats and repeat "yes" and "good" when they allow you to touch their face with it. Like the other tips this will need to be done repeatedly many times to get them to realize it's ok and they don't need to be scared. I suggest the handle of a metal spoon because it can mimic scissors without risk of cutting during the training process. If they don't allow you to touch their face with a spoon you can also use your fingers and hands to start to get them to feel more comfortable.
Sometimes they don't like the clippers near their face. A way to desensitize them and get them more comfortable with this is, you guessed it, positive reinforcement. I suggest using an electric toothbrush or perhaps you have a beard trimmer you can remove the blade from. I suggest removing the blade for safety as well as not to have any unwanted haircuts. Using the electric toothbrush or bladeless beard trimmer you want to let the dog investigate the sound while you give treats. Once they are comfortable with that you can touch the top of their head with the toothbrush handle or beard trimmer handle. It's important to continually give high value treats the entire time the device is on so that they can become comfortable with the sound as well as the feeling of the vibration. This is also a good tip if they have trouble with the clippers anywhere else on their body as well. Letting them get used to the sounds and feelings is exactly what your groomer will do with a new puppy as well.
Perhaps your dog doesn't like having their face or head held still. When your groomer is trimming the hair around the face it's important that your dog's head is held still for safety. Sometimes this is done by cupping the chin or gently holding the hair under the chin. Whatever the method, some dogs just don't like it. What you can do at home to help get them used to it is, again, giving the high value treats while doing the process. Gently scooping your dogs head up and having them hold it there while giving treats is what you want to do. If you have a long haired breed gently holding the hair at the bottom of their chin while treating and repeating "yes" and "good boy/girl" will start to make a world of difference.
These are just some of the common issues that I see daily in the grooming salon and tend to get asked about. When I work with dogs who have similar issues, I'm doing the above tips and trying to gain the dogs trust. However, if it's not consistent sometimes it doesn't get better. If you work on these things at home your dog will have a better experience and your groomer will surely thank you! If you have any questions or need advice for your dog please feel free to call or message us. We're always here to help and we'll be able to work on a plan with you to get your dog trained and groomed like a pro. :) Our training phone number is 269-815-0196 and our grooming phone number is 269-815-0162 or click the "lets chat" button on this page to contact us.
-J & K