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What To Do if Your Dog Hates Grooming? 9 Tips for Grooming at Home and Visits  


One of our customers has two dogs, and their personalities are like chalk and cheese. One loves grooming and sees it as their special pampering time, the other panics and won’t let anyone near them. Even the sight of the brush causes stress. The problem is that the panicky dog’s fur gets matted and dirty, and the longer it’s left the worse it gets. It reaches a point where, because it’s so neglected, it becomes ten times as bad. So, what do you do if your dog hates grooming? 

9 Tips for Dogs Who Hate Grooming

Grooming at Home  

1. Ditch the brush, use your hands and fingers to get them used to being touched  

For many dogs, a grooming brush or pair of nail clippers can send them into a frenzy. If your dog is nervous when you bring out the grooming tools, they’re never going to relax enough for you to brush them. Instead, get them used to the feel of being stroked and handled.

For example:  

  • Run your fingers down their backs and give them a lovely scratch  

  • Hold their paws and separate their claws  

  • Gently stroke sensitive areas like behind the ears and tummy*  

*Take your time getting to sensitive areas like paws by starting at the shoulder and moving down slowly.   

2. Slowly introduce the grooming tools  

Pet owners tell us they try to speed up the process of grooming to get it over with. While this is understandable, it’s the worst thing you can do. Dogs sense our anxiety and stress, and this makes them panic.   

Slow the process right down by getting your dog used to the grooming brushes and nail clippers. Introduce them slowly by placing them near your dog, but not using them. For example, you can leave a brush in your dog bed, or turn the clippers on, but don’t use them.

Once your dog is relaxed, you can pick them up and gently stroke your dog in an area they like. So, if your dog loves a back scratch, gently stroke their back with the brush. The objective is to associate the brush or clippers with a lovely relaxing stroke.   

3. Keep it short and sweet  

If your dog hates grooming, it is tempting to rush and get it over with in one go. Again, this causes stress for your dog. Now your dog is calm around grooming tools, aim to brush just one area of their body (backs are good, as you can give them a nice scratch afterwards). Make long, gentle and sweeping strokes with the comb or brush and praise your dog when they’re calm.  

4. Praise, praise, praise!  

Associate grooming with treats and praise. You can get a tasty snack out beforehand and leave it in view whilst presenting the brush or clippers. When your dog allows you to brush or clip, reward them with lots of praise and a delicious treat during and afterwards.   

Going to the Groomers  

For some dogs, going to the groomers is as bad as a visit to the vets. Dogs are sensitive to smells and will pick up on the anxiety from previous dogs.   

5. Go for a long walk beforehand  

Prepare your dog beforehand with a long walk to rid them of any excess energy. Make the walk as interesting as possible by taking a ball or Frisbee with you so they get to run around a lot.   

6. Let the groomer know your dog is anxious  

Tell the groomer you have an anxious dog and ask if they provide trial sessions to acclimatise them. Perhaps you can book a practice appointment where your dog can come into the groomers, have a look around, get used to being lifted on and off the grooming table, and hear the sounds of the equipment.  

7. Book extra time with your groomer  

It’s tempting to get the grooming over as quickly as possible so that your dog doesn’t stress for too long. As with home grooming, the trick is to go slowly, so book a double appointment or arrive half an hour earlier so you’re not rushing. You can use this time to sit in the car with your dog, walk them around the car park, or throw a ball for them.   

8. Is there something specific your dog doesn’t like?  

If you have a regular groomer, ask them if there’s something specific your dog doesn’t like. For example, dryers are much louder in a dog salon and can upset dogs who are noise sensitive. Buy a moisture-absorbing pet towel and dry your dog at home if the noise upsets them.   

9. Associate the groomers with positive things  

As with home grooming, gradually build up a positive association with the groomers by playing with your dog just before you leave or taking their favourite blanket or toy with them in the car. Afterwards, you can give them a special bone for being a good girl or boy.   

If your dog hates grooming, the trick is to slow everything down in stages. Get your dog used to one stage before moving onto the next, and praise and reward them for each step they take.   






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