As with any animal, dogs can become aggressive when they feel threatened – and a grooming session can make some pooches nervous. Today, our Kennesaw vets explain why some dogs become aggressive when it comes to grooming and offer tips to help make grooming sessions less stressful for both you and your pet.
Aggression In Dogs
Many dogs show aggressive behavior that can become a problem for their owners and families. While almost all wild animals are aggressive by instinct when guarding their territories, defending themselves, or protecting their young, when animals are adopted as pets it's important to address any aggressive behavior with training.
Aggression can involve a wide range of behaviors that can lead to attacks and injuries (including dog bites when grooming).
Signs of aggression in dogs include:
- Threatening growl or bark
- Remaining still and disobeying instructions
- Growling when the dog doesn't get their way
- Snarling (baring teeth when growling)
- Mouthing a person against his or her wishes to exert control
- A quick bite that leaves a mark, bruise, or puncture in or on the skin
- Quick series of bites
- Biting followed by trembling
In aggressive dogs, any of these symptoms may appear on their own or in various combinations.
Problems With Grooming Aggressive Dogs
Dealing with aggressive dogs during grooming sessions takes extra care, caution, and training to keep both your pooch and the groomer safe (whether you choose to groom your dog yourself or make an appointment with our professional groomers at North Cobb Animal Hospital ).
An aggressive dog may bite or show other aggressive behaviors during grooming sessions for numerous reasons - whether they are feeling anxious, fearful, confused, or have had previous bad experiences while being groomed.
If your dog has previously had negative experiences while being groomed, it may act extremely defensive the next time they enter a grooming space. They could even attempt to bite anyone who approaches or tries to touch them.
How To Successfully Groom An Aggressive Dog
Since your canine friend will need to be groomed regularly, you'll need to train your dog to tolerate grooming. Our groomers recommend keeping these tips in mind and building trust with your pup when it's time to bathe and groom your dog. The less stress any pet is put under, the more calm and cooperative it will be.
Introduce your dog to grooming early in life.
Introducing your dog to being groomed (and being taken to a groomer) as a puppy will save a lot of anxiety and stress down the road. Puppies enjoy exploring and are open to being socialized and learning. This makes it easier to train them to tolerate regular grooming. While it's not impossible to groom an older dog that has had prior negative grooming experiences, you'll just need to invest more time and patience in training.
Use positive reinforcements.
Positive reinforcement plays a role in training and can be a staple in grooming as well. Giving a treat before visiting the groomers (or before an at-home grooming session) may help keep them calm. You may want to give them another treat for sitting patiently during their bath and grooming.
Let your dog explore grooming equipment and procedures.
Until your dog is fully relaxed during grooming sessions, keep sessions short and make an effort to introduce groomers, grooming equipment, and new procedures. This allows your pup time to become familiar and comfortable with them. Let your pooch sniff the grooming area for a while before settling in, following up with praise and a reward.
Once your dog can understand that the groomer and equipment aren't intended to hurt them, things will go smoother for everyone.
Prepare for emergencies.
Some aggressive dogs may not calm down during grooming sessions no matter what – however, they still need to be groomed. Some solutions may include special anxiety-reducing jackets, organic and all-natural medications, or muzzles. Discuss any planned medications with your vet before administering them to your pup.
If you choose to have our professional groomers in Kennesaw do the job for you, rest assured that we have the knowledge and experience needed to groom all types of dog coats and work with animals of a wide range of temperaments, including those that are stressed, anxious or aggravated.
In circumstances where an animal is especially aggressive or fearful, we may recommend sedation during a grooming session. However, most of the time we can manage these types of dogs by doing the things listed above, and taking the following steps:
- Ensuring the environment is quiet, calm, and peaceful
- Asking your dog to perform an easy trick or action (such as 'sit' or 'shake paw')
- Offering treats
- Taking frequent breaks
- Playing music or opening a window.
At North Cobb Animal Hospital, we always look forward to meeting your four-legged friends and providing advice to help keep your dog happy and healthy. Alternatively, we'd love to take the job of grooming off your hands to get this important task done right, with minimal fuss.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.