Regardless of their demeanor, all dogs require grooming to some extent. This can prove challenging if your dog becomes aggressive during this service. In this post, our Egg Harbor Township vets talk about what causes dogs to become aggressive while being groomed and how we handle these situations.
Aggressive Dog Behavior
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for dogs to exhibit aggressive behavior which can lead to further issues for those that frequently handle the dog. 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 more behaviors than just biting or scratching, some of the other signs of aggression may include:
- Threatening growl or bark
- Remaining still and not obeying an owner's or carer's instructions
- Growling when the dog's wishes aren't followed
- Snarling (baring teeth when growling)
- Mouthing a person against his or her wishes in an effort to exert control
- A quick bite that leaves a mark, bruise or puncture in or on the skin
- A quick succession of bites
- Biting followed by shaking
In aggressive dogs, any of these symptoms may appear exclusively or in combination.
Grooming When the Dog is Aggressive
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 bring them to a professional groomer).
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 experienced a negative grooming experience at any point then they may become fearful and react negatively when they return to that space. The dog may attempt to bite anyone who approaches or tries to touch them.
How to Safely 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 they will be.
Begin grooming a dog when they are young
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 having new experiences 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 with prior poor experiences, you'll just need to invest more time and patience in training.
Utilize positive reinforcement for good behavior
Positive reinforcement plays a role in training and can also be a staple in grooming. Giving a treat before visiting the groomers (or before an at-home grooming session) may help keep them calm. You may want to give another treat for sitting patiently during their bath and grooming.
Allow your dog time to get used to the tools and procedure
Until your dog is completely comfortable with being groomed, keep sessions short and make an effort to introduce groomers, grooming equipment and new procedures, allowing 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 is able to understand the groomer and the equipment isn't intended to hurt them, grooming will go smoother for everyone.
Ensure that you use all possible preventive safety measures
You may do everything within your ability to calm your dog for grooming and in the end, nothing may work. Regardless of their demeanor, they will still need to undergo the process of being groomed. Some solutions may include special anxiety-reducing jackets (during nail trims), organic and all-natural medications or muzzles. It is recommended to speak with your vet in order to determine what precautions and solutions may be best suited for your dog.
If you choose to have professional groomers 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.
For dogs that are excessively aggressive while being groomed your vet will most likely recommend that they are sedated throughout the grooming services. However, most of the time these types of dogs can be managed 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 Newkirk Family Veterinarians, we are here to help provide tips and advice to make cleaning up your dog as easy as possible.
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.