How to prepare your dog for the groomer?Here at Dharma Dog, we are constantly trying to teach our clients new things to help their dog be happy and comfortable when they are in their own home. Although this comes in many aspects, training and socialisation being two of those, knowing the at home care and preparation for your dog’s grooming is just as important. What many people don’t realise is that adding the simplest extra details to your dogs at home grooming, can make a life of difference to the job of your professional Groomer, and also your wallet!
The thing of it is, even if your dog has minimal hair and you do all of your dog’s grooming care yourself at home, you’re still going to want to teach him or her how to behave for the whole process, without traumatizing them. And although people may believe that this only applies to small dogs, or dogs with a lot of hair, larger & short haired dogs need just as much training than small dogs, especially while young, since it will be MUCH harder to control them once they learn to throw their weight around. It’s also important to remember to employ proper positive reinforcement techniques with larger dogs, since (especially if going to an actual Groomer) you can’t just “force” them through the process.
Below we’ve listed some tips on what you can do at home to make the transition into grooming a successful one.
Although Dharma Dog likes to keep a calm spa-like atmosphere, some grooming shops can be very noisy, busy, and filled with other dogs. Your dog will be crated when not actively being groomed, which means crate training is a necessity for dogs of all shapes and sizes. You do not want to put your dog through a traumatizing experiencing, crying at the top of its lungs trying to get out, or worse, eliminating in its kennel. This also makes the process take longer, if the dog needs to be rewashed, and therefore may end up costing you more money.
Socialization is a huge part of preparing your dog for future grooms. It’s common sense to be doing this regardless, but letting your dog experience lots of new places, people, and other dogs will help him or her enjoy the atmosphere of the Groomer as opposed to dreading it.
Most likely, your dog will be put in a tub with running water out of a spray nozzle, not a filled tub. He or she will be soaked down, possibly have his or her anal glands expressed, if requested, and soaped up. Water and shampoo will be coming in contact with every inch of your dog, including his or her face, and he or she will need to be prepared to be manhandled all over.
You can help get your dog used to running water just by exposing him or her to it at a young age. Remember, though, work slow! If you go to fast and blast your dog in the face, you’re going to make them afraid and imprint them with fear. You can just set them in the tub and start the water running at bath time, or even just to practise. If you don’t want your dog getting wet, stand them where the water’s pooling a bit, and let them explore if they’re curious, and remember to praise and possibly treat for good behaviour. Remember though, if your dog gets wet, you will need to comb them as they dry, and after they’re dry, or they will mat up. Water + No Comb Out = Matted Dog!
This is also a good opportunity to try and teach your dog how to stand calmly. It’s difficult when default mode for a dog is a “sit”, because while the dog is technically being good, it’s impossible to wash and rinse a sitting dog. Work on something of a “Stand Up” command, and if your dog responds to this well ,make sure to tell your Groomer whatever word you use so that they can reinforce that behaviour. Teach your dog to stand still, then work up to standing there while you pick up and rub paws, lifting their tail, and rubbing their face – only praising them when they don’t pull away. This may take some time, and no Groomer is going to expect a puppy or new rescue to be perfect right away. However, standing still for everything is the ultimate goal.
Drying & Brushing
Whether hand drying on the grooming table, or blow-drying in the kennel, your dog will have warm, possibly loud, air blown on them during the grooming process. The easiest thing you can work on with your dog at home is by using your own hairdryer. However, please remember, whenever working with a human hairdryer and dogs, use the coolest setting. Even though dog dryers do heat up quite a bit, they don’t get nearly as hot as we use on our own hair. When working with your dog, first let them sniff the dryer and let them get used to it. Then, hold it back from them (so you don’t surprise them) and turn it on, with the air facing away. Work on letting them get used to the noise at first. Once they’re fine with that, work on slowly introducing them to the air flow.
Once your work with the dryer goes well, you can introduce a brush into the mix. Depending on your dog, your Groomer may use any number of brushes for drying, but the default would be a slicker brush, so a small, soft one is best for training. You don’t have to brush hard, just get the dog used to the feeling while having the air on them at the same time. You should already be working at home at brushing and combing your dog to keep him or her mat free. We see so many people come through and it’s simply too late to de-mat their dog, which means the Groomer has no choice but to shave out the area to save your dog the pain and stress. It is also important to remember that even if your Groomer can de-mat your dog, it does come at a hefty cost. If you start early combing your dog down to the skin, then he or she should be a pro in no time.
After your initial grooming, it’s never too soon to start brushing your dog. Don’t wait a month to start. Do it the next day. Brushing just 5 minutes a day can do wonders!
Talking to Your Groomer
Afterall, there is only so much prep work you can do at home before bringing your dog for a haircut. No dog is perfect, and we understand this, so it’s important to discuss with your Groomer things you’ve been working on, commands you use, and most importantly, areas your dog is still having trouble.
Further to this, it is also very important to be as clear as day when discussing your dogs grooming needs with your Groomer. You don’t want anything lost in translation. If you’re trying a new Groomer, and if you have photos of how you want your dog to look, this can be very helpful. It’s also best that you fully understand the type of haircut that you would like for your dog and any implications that may occur. Overall, a good Groomer should be very knowledgeable and should be able to guide you through this process if you are not 100% sure.