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How to Deal with Uncooperative Dogs in the Grooming Salon

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

Every groomer understands the challenges of having to work quickly and produce beautiful results when your client is a living, breathing animal. Groomers must be prepared to deal with situations of all kinds in order to keep things running smoothly. An uncooperative dog doesn’t have to result in a headache for you and your employees.

A corgi dog being dried
How To Deal With Uncooperative Dogs In The Grooming Salon

A dog groomer is responsible for providing every beauty and spa treatment in the book to their four-legged friends, but another required job skill is the ability to understand dog behaviour and provide positive experiences. To ensure the safety of both the groomer and the pet, groomers must know how to keep pets calm and under control during their visit.

For some dogs bath time is a breeze and trimming isn’t all that bad either, but what happens in between turns some of the sweetest dogs into complete maniacs and they become uncooperative. Just when you think you are only a dry and a cut away from sending a certain dog home you turn on your force dryer to find out that this dog is just not having it. It’s a frustrating scenario especially when you pride yourself in being a groomer who only dries dogs by hand.

Understanding Why The Dog Is Being Uncooperative.

The first thing you need to do is understand why the dog is acting up. Is it a fear of the cage dryer? Does the vibration cause them to feel uncomfortable? Are they just too excited to be in a new environment?

When preparing a dog for grooming, it is important to consider the animal's comfort level. The noise and blast off air from a dryer can be overwhelming to a dog that has not been desensitised to the sensation. By taking a few extra steps to slowly introduce the dog when it comes to your drying procedures you can help dogs have a fear-free experience resulting in a less stressful work day for you. Areas that can cause concern.

  1. The noise from the forced air dryer can be a factor.

  2. Strong air can be alarming.

Putting protocols in place with every new dog in your grooming salon, and with every dog that has a history of being a challenge for the dryer will have a huge impact on their entire visit. It is a lot easier to prevent a dog from becoming stressed in the first place than it is to calm an already nervous dog. This is also a good way to introduce puppies to drying. While they might seem perfectly calm and confident, always consider making it part of your routine to use this protocol for drying.

Corgi Dog Being Groomed
Understanding Why The Dog Is Being Uncooperative

To start, follow your usual process for intake and beginning the grooming process. Whether you do pre-work first or begin with a bath right away, make it a goal for you and your staff to become expert observers during this time. Does the dog seem responsive to you?  Is the dog comfortable with handling, and are there any particular areas that the dog does not give you the green light to touch? Is the dog showing any signs of stress, or giving any cut off signals? Knowing these things will help you handle the dog in the most accommodating way and give you a glimpse into how they are likely to react to certain aspects of grooming.

In addition to observing the dog's behaviour and body language, pay attention to their coat as well. Does it appear healthy or unhealthy? Are there any mats or tangles that need special attention? These questions should be answered as soon as possible so that you can provide an experience that is tailored specifically for each pet.

After bathing, when it comes time to dry the dog, begin with a good towel dry and use either a towel or a Happy Hoodie compression band to cover the dog’s ears.

Preparing a dog's coat for grooming is a critical part of dealing with an uncooperative dog.

The first step is to gain the dog's trust and establish a positive association with grooming tools. You want to make sure that your dog does not find brushes or combs scary, as this will make it harder for you to do your job.

Start by turning on the dryer but not directing it at the dog. Let them get used to the sound of the dryer, and don't let them get too close or touch it until they're comfortable with it being around them. Then use treats or praise to reinforce that this is something good!

When they are comfortable with the dryer being near them, start moving the dryer slowly toward their backs, making sure they don't react negatively before turning it off again. If they don't react negatively, continue moving forward with grooming—but every so often remove air from them (not necessarily turning off), when they are being calm in order to reinforce desired behaviour. If a dog is nervous and past their limit, give them a break either way.

A dog being dried
A Happy Dog Being Dried

The grooming process is often a time of fun and relaxation for pups; it's an opportunity to build the trust between dog and groomer that creates that all-important bond. And while dryers can be incredibly effective tools in the grooming room, when used incorrectly they can actually hurt your business. By focusing on your timing, you'll make sure you're getting the most out of your dryer, creating an experience that's both successful and enjoyable for both you and your pups.

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