How to Train your Dog to Love Grooming & Nail Trimming

Grooming your pet is not an easy task – without the right tools and mindset of course. Many dog owners are unable or even slightly worried about harming their dog while grooming, especially when it comes to nail trimming, ear cleaning or even brushing.

You may say ok well I will send my dog to the groomers – for some dogs however this is very stressful and at the end of the day our pups happiness is the most important. So this article is for dog owners who understand that dog care tasks are essential and need to be performed on a regular basis as such are willing to learn how to train their dog to enjoy and even love the grooming experience.

Fact #1:     Untrimmed or long nails can grow so long that they curve around the back into the foot causing lameness and pain for your dog. Worn nails can get stuck on furniture or objects and cause extreme discomfort to your dog.

Fact #2:   Bathing your dog indoors or outdoors can be quite stressful if not done in a relaxed manner. Shampoo suds could go into your dog’s eyes, this is why it is important to have a tearless shampoo.

Fact #3:    Brushing is essential for dogs with long hair or thick coats, to prevent matting, help decrease shedding and prevent associated dog skin problems.

So, you may ask, ok so what’s the secret to training your dog to allow and even enjoy grooming? Simply pair the grooming event with something positive and do this on a frequent step by step basis so that you dog associates this time as a frequent event.

The number one training tool – is dog treats! Don’t jump straight into this and expect results right away.

  1. Give your dog a treat.
  2. Then don’t use the brush or nail clipping tool for its intended use – gently stroke the brush/clipping tool on your dog’s head, cheek, neck – in slow motions, keeping his attention on the dog treat.
  3. Use encouraging language and tone of voice, to make your dog feel that this is a good experience he is having right now.
  4. Throughout the week, place those same objects next to their bed, food bowl, drinking water, kennel. To make them familiarize themselves with these objects in a positive way.
  5. Each day, change the area you stroke the object with – move onto paws, legs, back, back of the neck.
  6. Then when you feel your dog is relaxed and calm – start using the object for the intended reason – for nail clipping usually it is the sound of the clipper that freaks dogs out – if you can do it gently yet seamlessly fast – it will give your dog a sense of trust and relaxation. In the beginning clip one nail, and then stop and give your dog encouragement and maybe another treat!
  7. For bathing your dog indoors or outdoors, ensure you have a towel or mat underneath your dog’s feet so that they feel stable and use warm water, gently pump the shampoo onto your palm and gently massage into your dog’s coat. Make sure the water level is slow, as sometimes the sound of rushing water makes dogs panic.

Sometimes the process takes 1 day only. Sometimes it takes a week with repetition of short grooming sessions. If your dog is still not coming around, you may want to contact your local veterinary staff who are trained in these techniques or a groomer trained in these low-stress behavior grooming techniques.

Just be sure to never push the limits with your dog, always remember the important rule of keeping your dog feeling safe and happy – this way this grooming experience will be enjoyable not only for your dog but for you as well.

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