Some dogs do not like to be bathed, brushed, combed, have their nails trimmed or grooming.
This almost always has to do with the way they were raised and how they were introduced to a bath, brush, comb, nail trimming or grooming.
An exception to this might be a dog with physical problems, where grooming causes some kind of physical discomfort.
The bad news is this can be a big problem.
A dog that can’t be brushed or groomed because they are so unruly, with barking, biting and overall struggling, is going to develop problems. You won’t be able to trim their nails easily so you will more often than not let it go. The nails will get too long and can even curl around and start growing back into the leg. They can cause the toes to splay, resulting in flat feet and back problems. Walking can become painful because the nails are so long and of course they will easily scratch you. This also increases the risk of a nail getting caught on something and ripping off which may need vet care.
If you can’t comb or brush your dog they will get mats in their hair. These mats also become irritating to the dog which would feel like continuously having your hair pulled. You also cannot bathe the dog because when they get wet it will tighten the mats and become painful for the dog which also makes it much more difficult for the mats to be removed. When this happens you will need to go to a groomer and get the dog de-matted and this can be time-consuming for a groomer and costly for the customer. In many cases the only thing a groomer can do is shave the dog entirely.
The good news is, you can train your dog to accept being groomed, combed or brushed and have its nails trimmed without struggling.
At the earliest age possible introduce your little friend to these items:
– Comb and brush
– Nail clippers or a dremmel
– A bottle of shampoo
– Electric clippers. If you don’t have professional clippers and don’t plan to use them to groom, you can use an electric shaver. Of course you won’t ever actually want to try and use an electric shaver on your dog. The purpose here is to just get your dog used to the feel and sound of the shaver so when they go to a groomer they will be used to it and the groomers clippers won’t bother them.
The purpose at this stage is to just get your dog used to them, not actually groom them.
Again, at the earliest age possible, take each foot and gently massage it. You want your dog to allow you to touch and hold his feet without a reaction.
Look in his ears and mouth also so he can get used to someone doing that.
If you have an older dog who is difficult follow the same procedures as if it were a puppy.
At first, just let them smell and get used to what these tools are, but do not ever let them bite these tools.
A dog’s strongest sense is smell. Hold the tools out for your dog to sniff them then place them against the dog so he can feel them.
Turn on the clippers or razor and just let them feel the vibration of it and get used to the sound.
Continue doing this exercise until your dog accepts the tools and products as nothing special and is not bothered by the sound of the clippers or the feel of the vibration.
Also continue touching/holding each foot to keep him used to having them touched and held.
Next, you will start to use the tools on your puppy but before you do take him for a nice long walk. A tired dog will be more relaxed and easier to work on.
Now, just start with the basics. Get a brush or comb while he is sitting or lying down and just sit with him, gently pet him. This isn’t playtime, its time to be relaxed, so do not show any excitement. When he is calm, slowly brush or comb him. If he starts to bite at the brush or struggle, stop, wait a few moments and try again. If it is a difficult dog don’t try to comb him from head to tail. Instead just pick a smooth part of the body and brush there. As long as your dog is ok with what you are doing keep going. You should try to do it everyday in the beginning and you may need to do this for a few days or a week depending on how often you do it. Reward him when he is good.
You can also just let your grooming tools/products stay near him if he is just laying quietly somewhere so he learns that seeing them doesn’t mean anything is going to happen but never allow him to play with or chew on them.
Gradually increase the amount of time you spend combing him but always do it gently and slowly. Try trimming a toenail and if that goes well do another.
A note about nail trimming. We prefer to use a dremmel, the kind you can get at Home Depot. This allows you to get the nails shorter and you can round them off so they are nice and smooth.
Do not yell at him if he doesn’t get it right away. You need to be calm. When you do an exercise always end on a positive note and be sure you don’t stop this exercise when he is acting up or struggling or you will reinforce in him that acting up gets you to stop.
If you do these things often and calmly you CAN get him to enjoy being groomed and the professional groomers will really appreciate this and have a much easier time. If he is running away put a leash on him before you get any grooming tools to practice these exercises.
How is he when you bathe him?
If that’s a problem follow the same kind of steps and remember don’t yell at him.
Some dogs like to bite at water from a hose which makes it very difficult to give them a bath.
To stop this behavior first introduce your dog to a hose with the water off.
Note: it will probably be mush easier to do this training with your dog on a leash.
Move the hose around, hold it against him and just let him get used to it. Don’t let him get excited or bite at it.
Next, turn the water on and let it run out of the hose with the hose on the ground. Don’t let him play with it or go after the water. When he is to a point where he ignores this, pick up the hose and spray water. If he shows excitement and bites at it stop and correct him. You don’t need to strike or hit your dog, just a firm “no” (that means firm, not loud).
Continue this exercise until your dog is no longer interested in biting the water or water coming out of the hose.
When you get to the point where your dog will ignore water from a hose, while he is on a leash go (for better control) go ahead and spray him with it. He should stand calmly while you do this. Correct him if he bites at the water. If he doesn’t you are moving too fast so go back to the previous exercises until he is more relaxed with water coming out of the hose.
If your dog is afraid of the water from a hose or Fawcett, introduce it to him slowly and gently for short periods of time. Gradually increase the time as he gets used to it and remains calm.
When your dog is good or when you finish an exercise, reward him with a treat.
Don’t forget to exercise him before you start, he will be more relaxed. A walk is better than running around as a high energy session will get his adrenaline going.
This will work but you need to do it often and be calm and consistent.
A long-haired dog will likely need combing once a day. Mats and tangled hair can form very quickly on long-haired breeds so be thorough and comb everywhere including the chest and underarms, the tail and around the butt.
With a long-haired breed you should use a comb, not a brush. The soft bristles of a brush won’t get down to the skin to separate the hair and will just smooth the top. The teeth of a comb will reach down to the skin and when you comb it will pull out the loose hair in the undercoat as well as separate the hair to prevent tangles and mats. Combing often will also alert you to any bugs like fleas or ticks, will help you to quickly identify any skin conditions before they get bad, and keep your dog cleaner.
A well-groomed dog will feel better, look better and keep your house cleaner.
Most all dogs will come to enjoy this time you spend together and it can be a relaxing experience that your dog will enjoy and further strengthen the bond between you. It will also be one more thing that will help to reinforce that you are the leader.