How can we make grooming a positive experience for our puppy?

Time to paw-er up! Prevention is the best method to handle any unwanted behavior or issues when training your dog. Just by nature, dogs are intuitive experts at quickly assessing and reacting to different situations. This behavior varies with how they have learned to handle and respond to daily activities, such as going for walks, interacting with other animals, or meeting new people.

Visiting the groomer is such an activity, but unfortunately, most dogs don’t go the groomers regularly enough to learn how to cope with the environment. When not properly prepared and handled, this healthy activity can actually cause anxiety for your dog, the groomer, and yourself.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to prepare your new pup to love being groomed! Practice with these two exercises to ensure your dog associates every grooming experience as a pawsitive one.

Every Victory Counts Begin by asking yourself, “How often does my dog get to go to the doggie salon?” For most of us, the answer is probably once every few months. This is where pawblems crop up that make grooming seem stressful to your dog. Like most animals, dogs generally don’t like sudden changes, so the groomer needs to be a regular staple of their routine. So, to the best you can, try bringing your pup for visits to the doggie grooming salon every day, if possible. Doing so will help this environment become familiar to your dog. To kick off this exercise, simply bring your pup to the groomer’s facility as often as you can, at least a few times a week. Do not have any grooming done during these first visits. Simply walk in and out of the building with your pup, making sure to exit on a positive note. Keeping the leash on and using any commands you’ve already taught your dog will reassure them that you’re still in charge and have control in this new environment, thus giving them the security they need as they venture into this new place with you. Be observant and learn what your dog’s favorite reward is, whether it’s a goodie, affection, or plaything, then use it to reward your pup every time they complete this exercise successfully. Over time, this will help your pup associate the groomer’s, including all its scents and sounds, with positive outcomes and rewards. Remember, there is no need to rush this process. After your pup has completed this exercise successfully several times, it’s time to carefully guide your pup through the more challenging aspects of what they should expect to happen at the doggie salon. This includes taking your time to introduce them to the staff, to the grooming tools, and to the other pets there. Continuously completing these exercises with positive outcomes will help make it easier on your dog’s brain, that way they’re not so overwhelmed by all the new experiences when it’s time for an actual grooming session. Just take it at your dog’s pace, and use your discretion for when you feel they’re ready to take the next step of actually being groomed.

Though this first point may seem generic, and the amount of practice and repetition varies from one dog to another, it’s a vital step that all dog owners should consider implementing sooner rather than later. However, it’s possible that an unexpected event or action can trigger negative behavior in your pup, no matter how hard you worked to prevent it. This is where the second tip comes into play.

Your Bread & Butter Pawblems Made Easy is a big, big advocate for the following advice: get your dog to exercise before doing anything new or challenging for them! We really can’t stress this step enough. Though not all dogs require the same quantity and intensity of exercise, every dog benefits from being properly stimulated and challenged. Even the laziest, calmest, chillest dog benefits from the right amount of exercise, especially before they’re being put through a new and potentially stressful situation. Burning off any of that excess energy makes it easier for dogs to relax and adapt to situations. This second point is also the perfect addition to when you’re practicing the “Every Victory Counts” step since regularly exercising with your dog ensures they’ll trust and accept your guidance. That makes it easier for your pup to let you take the lead and guide them through new exercises as opposed to venting out or misbehaving.

Enjoyed these pawblem solvers? Pawblems Made Easy has more tips and tricks from experience to offer, especially when it comes to helping you build a pawsitive bond with your dog. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions, comments or concerns you might have at!