“What can I give my dog to calm him down for grooming?” Is it a common question for many dog lovers? Many times people need to struggle to calm down a dog during its grooming session.
Sometimes people observe unusual behavior before and after the grooming session. It is not common for all dogs. But some dogs are afraid of grooming.
These dogs are nervous. Grooming an anxious dog is dangerous for both the groomer and the dog.
Any accident may occur. The groomer may accidentally cut the dog’s skin for its reckless movement, or the dog may bite the groomer out of its nervousness.
So, before grooming, you need to understand its mental condition. How do you know that your dog is anxious?
Symptoms Of An Anxious Dog:
- Tense muscle.
- Attempts to escape.
- Destructive behavior.
- Biting tendency.
- Urinating or defecation.
- Crouching to the ground or try to hide.
- Wide-open eyes.
- Pulled back ears.
- Physically ill.
These are the sign of a nervous dog. Their anxiety level can be mild to traumatizing. For these dogs, the grooming appointments turn into nightmares.
So, if your dog has these signs, that means he is unwilling to do grooming. Whatever his mental stage is, it is necessary to reduce its stress level.
Now, you may ask why it gets anxious?
Reasons For Anxiety:
Well, there are many causes behind its unwillingness. When you identify that your poor pet is anxious, then you need to try its reason. Because then you can treat him well. The prime causes are:
- Naturally nervous.
- Afraid of new things.
- Bad experience in the past.
- The long time grooming session.
These are the primary reasons. There are treatments for every cause. Your help and effort can make them comfortable and secure.
So, how can you help the little fellow? Do you have any idea about that?
How to Calm a Dog for Grooming?
Grooming is like torture for a nervous dog. But preventive measures can reduce the intensity of its aggressiveness.
Let’s see some effective methods to calm him down.
1. Behavioral Modification Through Training:
It is the first thing. You can make your dog used to the grooming process. You can manipulate his behavior with positive appreciation and treats.
It is easy to train a puppy with grooming activities. Let him used to get handled. But if you own an old dog, you need to give more effort to prepare.
Start from the easy steps. You can frequently brush his hair or can give a bath once in two or three months. I am doing this stuff regularly to help him eventually.
It is unnecessary to give him always a treat. But praise him a lot. The more he gets used to grooming activities, the more he behaves well at the appointment.
You need to earn his trust. Improve your understandings of him. Make fun and let him enjoy it. When he likes to enjoy the stuff, he will be no more anxious.
Every day you can train him with grooming activities for two/ three minutes. Gradually increase the time.
When you feel that he is confident enough, then you can introduce him with grooming tools. Step by step, it will able to come out of its shell and enjoy the grooming session.
If you want to get a professional groomer, meet them first after the agreement. Let them enjoy and understand each other.
2. Try To Be Natural:
Yes, there are ways to use medication to calm a dog. But before you jump to the medicine, try to use nature to keep the little fellow calm and organized. There are many alternative ways to sedate a mild nervous dog without medication.
- Make the dog physically tired. Sounds weird, right? But it works for most of the dogs. Make him physically active by walking or playing with him. You can play Frisbee or ball catching to make him tired. Physical activity removes anxiety from his mind and also helps him to be quiet during grooming.
- You, along with your dog, can take training from a professional groomer or vet. The session will be more like: playing than actual grooming. This training helps him to be used to handling. You can play with his paws, neck, shoulder, and other parts of his body.
After that training, at grooming time, he will think you will play with him like before. Then he will not concern during grooming.
- Give them their favorite toy, blanket, or treat during grooming. The toys will occupy him during its grooming. So, he will not make trouble in the grooming process.
- Some dogs have a craving for owner touch. If your dog is afraid without you, stay close with him during grooming. Pat him frequently and assure him you are beside him. No matter to be scared. Encourage him and appreciate him for co-operation.
- Another unique but effective way is to use aromatherapy. Many natural oils can affect animals to calm down. Such as lavender oil has soothing power. Massaging with soothing oil is effective in calming him down at grooming.
- Some people also say that aroma candle is also helpful to calm the dog at grooming.
- A natural supplement like L-theanine, Melatonin, S-adenosyl, etc. is also useful in calming him down.
3. Take The Vet’s Advice:
If all the above techniques are a failure, then you need to take the vet’s advice. Vets are well aware of all situations. So, he can prescribe you the right medicine to calm your dog. You will get many sedatives available in the market.
The doctor may suggest anti-anxiety medicines like amitriptyline, alprazolam, buspirone, dexmedetomidine, fluoxetine, diazepam, etc. These medicines are effective for grooming a dog that bites.
But before you start medication, know well about its side effects and appropriate doses. You must abide by all instructions for medication.
There are both oral and injectable medicines available in the market. Not all medications are suitable for all dog’s breed and health conditions.
Do not apply for any medicine without a doctor’s prescription. The wrong dose can be harmful to your little fellow.
4. Individual Facilities and Equipment:
Find out an understanding groomer who has passionate about understanding. The groomer should be impulsive and patient. He needs prior-experience to handle an anxious dog.
Using calming aids is also a good idea to calm a dog. Calming devices are- calming chew, a DAP collar, Thunder-shirt, Anxiety wrap, etc. are useful for some dogs.
Make the session short. Instead of a long course, to do full grooming takes several days.
Use equipment that is less noisy and less scary. Like to brush hair, you can use a brush glove instead of a metal brush.
Sometimes, counterconditioning may be helpful for some cases. But it does not apply to all. Counterconditioning means reduce the fear level by doing the things frequently that he is afraid of.
Suppose your dog afraid of lifting to the grooming table. Then lift him often to a height. Systematically increase the frequency. Thus, the combination of desensitization with counterconditioning will bring out the best result.
Think of a unique solution for individual dogs. If your dog hates the slippery surface of the grooming table, put a mat or towel on the surface. If he hates long grooming sessions, try to split the whole process into some days instead of one long course.
The last important thing is, make the session easy for the little fellow and let him enjoy it. You and the groomer should handle the dogs with great patience and love.
So, that is how you can keep a dog calm and quiet during grooming. Remember, natural methods are the best to make the dog soft. All sedatives have more or fewer after-effects. Take help from the vet to find out correct medicine with the right amount of dose.
Be careful to handle a nervous dog. Don’t cuddle him when he is afraid. Study shows that cuddling can reinforce fear more.
So, a controlled and systematic approach is necessary to get a positive attitude. If the fear level is mid-high or high, then use seductive medicines with concerned doctor opinion.
Otherwise, avoid chemical sedatives and use natural remedies for calming down is the best way. Before hitting the groomer, consult with your vet for a successful grooming session.