It’s important for your dog to feel comfortable being handled, whether at the vet, groomer or dog spa, in order to create a stress-free experience. Vets will be able to diagnose and treat your dog more successfully without struggle or resistance. Spa techs and groomers will be better able to complete bathing and hair cut services successfully, which are necessary preventative care activities. Recently however, our spa team has noticed an increase in the number of dogs who are difficult to handle, and local groomers have confirmed with us that they are experiencing an uptick as well. Yet, with some intentional practice, your dog can learn to tolerate and even enjoy being handled at the spa, groomer or vet. Here are some suggestions:
Early exposure to all kinds of situations, people, and environments is the key to helping your dog thrive and become familiar with different scenarios. Puppies are much more accepting of experiences than adult dogs, so starting early is going to give you a jump start on setting them up for success! A dog who never had their paws or ears touched as a puppy is more likely to dislike it, fidget, and even growl or snap when a someone tries to trim their nails or clean their ears later on.
Don’t overwhelm your dog at first. You want to create positive associations with being handled and touched and forcing it will do the opposite. The goal is to slowly introduce different scenarios and tools so that your dog becomes desensitized and accepting of them. If your dog enjoys belly rubs or ear scratches, start with those, and then slowly move to other parts like gently playing with their paws and toes. Getting your dog used to having their ears and teeth/mouth examined is also important. Repetition and consistency every day goes a long way.
Praise and Treats.
Treats will be your best friend! Positive reinforcement with praise and treats will help your dog associate being handled with good things that they enjoy. If your dog is more toy-motivated, use their favorite toy to help them make the association.
Tools can be scary to dogs if they haven’t been exposed to them before. These include brushes, nail clippers, hair dryers, etc. Don’t suddenly turn on the hair dryer or immediately begin trimming their nails without introducing the tool to them first. This will frighten them and could set back your progress. For example, leave the dryer off, set it amongst toys on the floor and let your dog sniff and check out the tool on their own time. When they interact with it, offer a treat. Then over time you can begin turning it on for short periods of time, offering treats to your pup, and then gradually increasing the time it’s left on. Use this method to introduce nail clippers and other tools.
Start at Pampered Pets Inn.
Our Spa and Training teams can help you acclimate your dog to these environments and help them thrive. Having your dog get comfortable early on being bathed and getting nail trims will help groomers and vets as well and give you peace of mind. Reach out to schedule your pet’s next visit!