Whether it’s a dog’s first time visiting the groomer, or the 10th, there can be some anxiety around the event for doggie and human companions. Animals may not realize that we have their best interests in mind when we take them to be cleaned, combed, and tidied up. They might see the outing as a trip away from their usual surroundings, where people who aren’t their family handle them, and they could try desperately to avoid the encounter by refusing to get into their crate or making a scene at the groomers. To prepare your dog for the groomer, even if you’ve been going to the same groomer for years, it’s best to take a few steps to reinforce that the occasion need not be a stressful one.
Prepare Your Dog for the Groomer at Home
Before your pup ever steps foot into a dog groomer’s facility, you should perform some of the grooming acts yourself on your furry friend. That way, your dog gets used to what it feels like having someone clip their nails, shampoo and dry fur, brush hair, check teeth, and even place bows and headbands (if that’s how you like to beautify your pup). When it comes time for a stranger to do these tasks, hopefully your doggie won’t mind the handling.
As you groom your dog at home, confidently touch your dog in all of the areas a groomer would, including the belly, paws, legs, hindquarters, neck, chest, head, ears, eyes, nose, and mouth. Have fun with your dog while you’re grooming so that your dog thinks of it as playtime and bonding time, instead of a chore. If you want to end your at-home grooming session with a special treat, your dog will probably love the experience even more.
If you don’t have a regular groomer that you use, try to get groomer recommendations from a trusted friend or family member, or from reputable websites that offer groomer reviews. When you come across groomers that seem well regarded, call the facility and visit to get more information. You’ll want to take note of the attitude of all employees that you come into contact with, and make sure to pay attention to the cleanliness of the facility.
If possible, watch another dog being groomed so you can get an idea of how your dog will be treated by that groomer. Also, if your dog has special needs, ask the groomer if they can accommodate your requests and requirements.
Time for Drop Off
Some groomers will let you be in the room when your pup is being primped and primed. Others may prefer you drop off your dog and come back in a couple of hours. By the time you’ve chosen a groomer, hopefully you’ll feel comfortable leaving your dog and coming back later for pickup. It’s best to prepare your dog for the groomer’s drop-off requests, or for your convenience, so you can tend to other tasks, by having some separation time before the grooming appointment.
For an hour or so, a few times before the grooming visit, leave your dog with friends or family and take off for a bit. Keep in contact with your doggie’s sitter, but stay away for a while so your dog can get accustomed to someone else’s care. This will offer the confidence your dog needs to be without you while getting groomed.
If you need to talk with someone about the best ways to prepare your dog for the groomers, or introduce your dog to strangers, call me. I have many years of experience with dog groomer training and preparing human companions for grooming dogs. Should you wish to forgo the groomers altogether and attend to cleaning up your pup on your own, I can assist you with love-based behavior guidance that will make the process much easier for you and your dog.