dog grooming

"my dog has bitten groomers in the past - should they be muzzled?"
Biting is a survival response, but it can also be a learnt behaviour to gain some control back over their safety and environment. All dogs should be trained to be comfortable wearing a muzzle because any dog is capable of biting - and safety must be a priority. I do not believe in muzzling a dog when they are stressed in order to 'get the job done' as that doesn't help your dog overcome their fears - it simply removes their ability to protect themselves, often making fears worse. If your dog has a bite history, we will work together to identify why and start building their confidence in using their communication cues. 

"my dog is scared of the groomers but needs grooming asap - what should I do?"
It is important to understand that there are no 'quick fixes' when it comes to behaviour. Like us, dogs are complex individuals and their personalities are a combination of genetic history, early learning and life experience. In cases where your dog's physical welfare is at risk and grooming is required immediately - such as matting, overgrown nails or a severe skin condition - I would recommend speaking to your vet about having them clipped under sedation. This can be costly, starting at around £150 for a small dog, and does come with risks, however from an ethical perspective it is far kinder than forcing your dog to undergo the stress of grooming and risking an injury to themselves or the groomer. It would also undo any progress you have made in rehabilitating them. Once your dog has been clipped under sedation and had time to decompress, we can then start a plan to prevent it ever needing to be done again. 

"how long will it take for my dog to enjoy grooming?"
This will depend on your dog and how severe their fear response is. If your dog has had a lifetime of negative grooming experiences, it may be that they need little and often grooming appointments the rest of their life. But I have worked with dogs that wouldn't allow me near them to then wagging their tails during nail trims within a year. Putting a timeline on your dogs emotional recovery can set them up for failure, and we must always go at a pace they are comfortable with. A stressed dog cannot learn. 

I groom all dogs no matter their temperament, age, size or breed. My approach can help dogs avoid developing fears in the first place, and you feel confident knowing they are being respected and cared for to the highest standard in my care.

"is my dog scared or just being dramatic?"
Reflecting human emotions onto animals is called Anthropomorphism. It is similar to saying that a worm is acting spiteful or a pigeon may be feeling guilty. We know that they do not have the brain capacity to feel complex human emotions, however this is often forgotten when we look at our dogs. Dogs have lots of emotions, but a smaller area of the brain for processing them. So when you believe your dog to be 'overreacting', to them it is simply fear or anxiety, which feels very real and scary to them. 

"how can i set my puppy up for grooming success?"
Take your puppy to the groomers as soon as they are vaccinated and safe to be around other dogs. Depending on your dog this could be for a 10 minute sniff around the salon and meeting the groomer so things get off to a great start. If your pup is a bit more confident you could start introducing them to salon noises such as the dryer on a low volume or the vibration of the clippers. It is important to build your dog's confidence up around these novel sounds from as early as possible. Puppies should have had at least 2 puppy trims before they are 6 months old (more if they have a poodle-type coat) with lots of maintaining at home. Make it a fun part of their daily routine and they are less likely to find grooming stressful.

"how can i help my dog at home when i don't have grooming equipment?"
Professional grooming should always be left to the professional that have been trained on how to use their tools without causing injury to the dog. However you can mimic a grooming salon using items around your house. A hairdryer can be used instead of a blast dryer, a pair of beard trimmers can mimic the motor and vibration of clippers, and you can use toe nail clippers and pasta to desensitise your dog to nail trimming. For step by step guidance sign up for the 'Fuss-free' online grooming programme (coming soon) which will explain everything and give you lots of demo videos.