How to Calm a Dog For Grooming

July 20, 2023

Written By: Earth Buddy Team

Golden Retriever looking nervous about going to a grooming session. Read this blog to learn more about how CBD for dogs can calm anxiety with grooming.

Grooming is an integral part of dog care. Regular grooming can keep your dog’s coat looking shiny, help prevent skin conditions, and also provide an opportunity to check for any unusual signs or symptoms of health issues. However, many dogs become anxious during grooming, making the process stressful for both pet and owner. Fortunately, there are several strategies to ensure a calm and stress-free grooming session.

Understanding the Dog’s Perspective

Before pet parents can effectively calm your dog, it’s essential to understand why grooming might cause stress. For dogs, the grooming process can be overwhelming. The sensations of being touched, brushed, or having their nails clipped can be strange or uncomfortable, and the noises from hair dryers or electric clippers can be frightening. Furthermore, grooming often involves a break from routine, which can be unsettling for dogs who thrive on consistency.

Signs of Stress in Dog

In order to know when your furry friend is overwhelmed, you first need to understand and learn their signs of stress. If your dog suffers from feelings of anxiousness, you may notice:

  • Excessive panting or yawning: Dogs often pant or yawn when they’re uncomfortable.
  • Pacing or shaking: Just like humans, dogs may pace around a room or shake uncontrollably.
  • Loss of appetite: Dogs might not eat as much or at all.
  • Excessive shedding: Dogs can shed more than usual.
  • Avoidance or escape behavior: This can include hiding, trying to move away, or even being unusually clingy. Dogs who are stressed might also show signs of fear or aggression.
  • Excessive barking or whining: Any unusual vocalization could be a sign of stress.
  • Excessive licking or chewing: Dogs often lick or chew their bodies or objects around them when they’re stressed.
  • Changes in body posture: A lowered body, flattened ears, a tucked tail, or raised fur can all be signs of stress.
  • Changes in eyes and facial expression: Dogs can show stress through their eyes and facial expressions. This can include dilated pupils, rapid blinking, or showing the whites of their eyes.
  • Changes in bodily functions: Your dog may experience problems using the bathroom.

How to Calm a Dog for Grooming

One of the most effective ways to help your dog stay calm during grooming is to introduce grooming procedures early in their lives. Puppies are generally more adaptable to new experiences, and early exposure can help them become more comfortable with grooming as they grow older. Regular grooming can also normalize the process, helping to reduce dog stress over time.

Create the Right Environment to Keep Your Dog Calm

The environment where grooming takes place can have a significant impact on a dog’s comfort level. Here are some tips to create a calming area for grooming:

  • Choose a quiet, comfortable space: Grooming should be done in a quiet, familiar, and comfortable space. Avoid high-traffic areas where noise and distractions may add to your dog’s stress.
  • Maintain a consistent space: If possible, try to groom your dog in the same place each time. Dogs are creatures of habit, and having a consistent grooming space can help them feel more secure and comfortable.
  • Comfortable temperature: Ensure the room is not too hot or cold. A comfortable temperature will help keep your dog relaxed.
  • Adequate lighting: Good lighting is essential not only for you to see what you’re doing but also to keep your dog calm. A well-lit area can help reduce your dog’s stress, as dogs can become stressed in dark or shadowy areas.
  • Use calming scents: Certain scents, like lavender or chamomile, can have a calming effect on dogs. Consider using a diffuser with dog-safe essential oils or a specially formulated canine calming spray.
  • Soft music or white noise: Soft, soothing music or white noise can help drown out the sound of grooming tools like clippers or nail grinders, which may otherwise stress your dog. Classical music or specially designed dog relaxation music can be effective.
  • Comfortable bedding or mat: Place a non-slip mat or comfortable bedding where you’ll groom your dog. This gives them a secure and comfortable place to sit or stand.
  • Keep tools out of sight: Clippers, scissors, and other grooming tools can be intimidating for dogs. Keep them out of sight until you’re ready to use them to minimize stress.
  • Keep It positive: Use a calm, reassuring tone of voice throughout the grooming process. Offering treats, toys, and plenty of praise can also help create a positive association with grooming.

Desensitization and Counterconditioning

Desensitization and counterconditioning techniques can be incredibly effective in reducing grooming stress. Desensitization involves gradually introducing your dog to the grooming process and tools. Start by showing your dog the grooming tools, then gradually move to touching the dog with them, always ensuring that the dog remains comfortable.

Counterconditioning involves changing your dog’s emotional response to grooming. This often involves pairing grooming activities with rewards, such as treats, toys, or praise. Over time, your dog may come to associate grooming with positive experiences, reducing their fear.

Training Commands and Gentle Restraint

Teaching your dog basic commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, and ‘lay down’ can be incredibly helpful during grooming sessions. Not only does this give your dog a sense of structure and predictability, but it can also keep them still during critical moments. Gentle restraint, using a soft touch and reassuring tone, can also be helpful. Remember never to use forceful restraint, as this can increase your dog’s fear of the grooming process.

Using Full Spectrum Water-Soluble CBD

Woman's hand holding a bottle of Earth Buddy Quick Calm 250mg CBD for dogs and cats. Water-soluble CBD for dogs absorbs in the bloodstream faster to calm anxiety.

Many products are available to assist in calming dogs during stressful situations. These include pheromone sprays, which mimic the calming pheromones produced by mother dogs; body wraps or vests; and calming treats or supplements.

 

Quick Calm CBD for Dogs can also help your pup maintain a relaxed disposition and has the following benefits:

  • Calming effect on nerves
  • Helps cope with external stresses
  • Helps maintain contentment during stress caused by changes in your pet’s daily routine
  • May help curb destructive behavior
  • Absorbs into dog’s system faster because it is water-soluble CBD

If your dog despises the grooming table and it’s difficult for you to get the grooming done yourself, it may be time to look into hiring a professional. Provide your dog with a dose of full spectrum hemp extract 20-30 minutes before going on the car ride to the pet salon. Or, if you think your dog will handle grooming at home if they’re calmer, you can try it then, too.

Professional Help from the Pet Salon

In some cases, you may need to seek professional help instead of doing it yourself. This could be a professional groomer who has experience with stressed dogs or a professional dog trainer or behaviorist who can provide specific strategies and techniques for dog grooming effectively.

Professional dog groomers employ a variety of techniques and methods to calm dogs during grooming sessions. Firstly, they’re trained to handle dogs gently and confidently, creating a sense of security and trust. They often work in stages, gradually introducing grooming tools and procedures to avoid overwhelming the dog.

Additionally, many groomers use soothing voices to calm anxious pets and reward good behavior with treats and praise, creating positive associations with the grooming process. They may also use products like pheromone sprays or calming music to create a relaxing environment.

Lastly, professional groomers understand dog behavior and body language, allowing them to recognize signs of stress and adjust their approach accordingly. Their extensive experience and understanding make them well-equipped to handle even the most nervous dogs, ensuring a smooth and less stressful grooming experience.

Be sure to do your research before making a grooming appointment. Check out reviews, ask your fellow pet parents, and reach out to your veterinarian to see who they recommend or if they have heard of the professional you’re interested in.

Post-Grooming Rewards and Reinforcement

Finally, always end the grooming session on a positive note. Provide your beloved dog with a special treat, extra playtime, or a favorite activity following their grooming session at the grooming salon. This helps to create a positive association with grooming, which can reduce fear over time, especially if you begin getting your dog groomed on a regular basis.

Keep Grooming Calm

Helping your dog remain calm during grooming doesn’t have to be a struggle. By understanding their perspective, providing a calm environment, using desensitization and counterconditioning techniques, training commands, and potentially using calming aids, you can create a positive grooming experience for your dog.

As always, consult with professionals for advice tailored to your specific situation, and remember that patience and consistency are key. Grooming should be a positive, stress-free experience for both you and your dog, contributing to a healthy, happy dog.

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