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My Dog Hates Grooming!

My Dog Hates Grooming! 

SO your dog hates grooming? 

Now what?! 

How did my dog learn that? 

Let's start with the ways your dog learns and what happens when he or she has to participate in the grooming process. I say participate because in reality, your dog has no way of consenting to grooming... Participation is required for their well being and care. 

But he's only been groomed once! 

Your dog learns to "hate" grooming just as fast as he learns to love treats after a walk, or the overwhelming moment of happiness that he feels when you get home each day. If you, like many owners have a dog that seems to act more like a human than an animal, you already know how fast the learning process happens... My dog is capable of learning a trick in about 3 days with a 10 min practice each day. We are talking about 30 min here, guys! 30 solid minutes is what it takes for my standard poodle to decide if he will love to do a trick or hate it. 

When I say "decide" if he will love a trick or not, I'm simply referring to the reward he receives after performing the action I ask of him. If I was to become frustrated and annoyed in the process of teaching him the new trick and instead of rewarding his efforts I for example; gave up or negatively reacted to each mistake he made, he would hate the trick. On the other hand, if I ignored his mistakes and rewarded him for each small action he takes in the right direction, he would learn to love this trick simply because well it's chicken, chicken, chicken!!! 

How is this connected to grooming? 

So here is how it works, just like with treats and tricks, your dog will love or dislike the grooming process depending on how you and the groomer introduce him to it. No excuse! This is entirely up to you and your groomer. Yes, some dogs have certain tendencies to dislike people or being touched but again, with your help they really can overcome this. There are cases where a dog has been so traumatized by the processor grooming that even sessions and sessions of gentle and calm grooming can't undo this damage. This is only is severe cases! In most cases even if you rescued a dog and then found out he hates the groomer it is possible to redirect the behavior to something positive. 

Two Ways that your dog can learn to love grooming 

Your dog learns how to love grooming just like he learned to hate it. Dogs learn by immediate consequence to this action and by association. 

This is my dog Paisley, he is not afraid of grooming and fell asleep on the job. 

So how do I get a dog to behave this way? 

Let's start with immediate consequence. 

Dogs just like us naturally gravitate toward doing things that in the end provide them with a positive reward rather than a negative one. We go to work because at the end of a somewhat stressful day we receive compensation for our efforts. So, why would your dog be any different? 


Begging=food = Great! I will keep begging! 

Barking = Mom opens the door so I can go out= excellent, I must now bark every time I want to go out! 

Grooming= positive attention from the groomer and mom+plus some " good buy" sounds and treats= nice! I love grooming! 

A reward that comes after an action is what we refer to as operant conditioning. 

It's that simple but with many more steps. 

Your dog hates grooming for the same reason, he was forced ( as he can't consent) to be groomed without any rewards way too many times and now it's just punishment to him. 

This all starts at home. 

Nobody can expect a dog to love grooming if he or she only sees the groomer every 3-6 months. Remember when I said action=reward? The action must be consistent and repeated A LOT! 

Take your dog to the groomers every 2 weeks for at least 3-4 months to break the bad habits and teach him that a groomer=reward. Reward your dog and with treats and love after every session and allow the groomer to do the same. Many times people take their dog to the groomer and after they are informed that their dog is not great with being groomed they stop taking the dog to a groomer to avoid the stress. This is NOT at all the correct approach. Find a groomer who is willing to put in the extra time with your pup or hire a mobile groomer who can dedicate a chunk of time only to your dog. 

What to do in between grooming appointments? 

Premier Spa Mobile Pet Grooming  Here we have a 10-month-old puppy named Annie who has gone to two groomers. Mom was told each time she screamed the whole time and got frustrated while being groomed. In a single hour-long grooming session I experienced Annie go from a terrified pup to a calm dog who is enjoying the reward of my touch attention. 

Practice undoing what was done. Ask your groomer to inform you on exactly what your dog dislikes instead of just telling you "he was bad" for grooming. If your dog did not like his feet touched then, we will go home and touch his feel! Homework: Touch your dogs' feet while watching tv, cuddling or whenever he and you are both in a relaxed state. Take some treats and reward your pup when he doesn't pull away. Reward him if he lets you hold his foot for more than a few seconds and play with it. Start slow, hold for one second, stop and = treat. Hold for 3 seconds, stop = treat and so on. Never hold your dog down or push him to stay still. Just take your time. You will be surprised how fast your grooming problems will turn around. Exposure to what he is afraid of while being groomed with a reward instead of negativity will, in fact, change your dogs' mindset. 

Afraid of clippers? At home take your husband's clippers or yours and without turning them on pet him with them, each time he lets you place the clippers on his back, you reward him, eventually and only once he is fully comfortable with the clippers, you turn them on. Now away from his body you hold the clippers and give him treats simply for not running away. You bring the clippers close to his body with each session until eventually, you can touch him with them on. Please, never try this backward and turn your clippers on at the first step, this will only end bad. 

You can do the same routine for, scissors and the sound they make, nail clippers and even ear cleaning. DO not Rush! Each session should be no longer than 10 minutes.  Put some peanut butter on the fall of your bathtub or wherever you wash your dog and watch him forget he being washed! 

Classical conditioning and why your dog may, in fact, love grooming not hate it! 

Ever seen that owner on facebook with a video that goes something like this... 

"Bella is going to the groomers today, look at her, look how sad she is! We are driving there now and she is already shaking. Oh, baby, it's ok mommy is here, I won't let them take you. Oh, she's so scared!" This is all being filmed and the voice of the person filming reflects exactly that of someone anxious and nervous themselves.  

This is what we refer to as classical conditioning. 

The dog becomes conditioned to fear the process as it associates the ride to the groomers with anxious energy. Instead, next time take your dog to a dog trail, or a park and spend some time with him playing, then take him to the groomer and on your way there maybe pull out a few treats. Become overly excited with your dog before going in. Walk-in with confidence and hand your dog right over. Do not hold on to your dog for too long as this will create some separation anxiety for you both. Think smooth, calm and on a mission to positivity. 

The trip to the groomer has to be as exciting and rewarding as the process itself. 

Find a grooming who says " good boy" rather than " no", look for somebody who rewards good behavior. 

Premier Spa Mobile Pet Grooming 

Owens Cross Roads, AL 35763 


DOG GROOMER IN Hampton Cove, AL Big Cove, AL and Huntsville, AL 

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