Why don’t you advise me to stay with my pet while being groomed?


I'm often asked "why cant I stay with my baby while you are grooming him/her?" In my experience, most of the time, it is the owners who are more nervous than the dogs-the human doesn't know what to expect at the groomer's; there are things out of their control-their own dog's behavior and the groomer's behavior, they don't want to leave their baby with someone they don't know, and any other number of reasons why a human could be feeling anxious.

Dogs are more nervous when their owner is around mostly because the owner is nervous and they are reading their body language. Also, typically, the owner tends to coddle their nervous dog, so it ends up being a bad cycle of the dog being nervous because the owner is nervous and then the owner coddling the nervous dog.

Coddling a nervous dog is reinforcement for that behavior-it's rewarding the shaking and whining by hugging and kissing and giving treats. This is instinctual maternal behavior (which can be given by men and women) for humans to want to care for their scared dog, but dogs are not humans and as much as we want to treat them like babies, it is much more beneficial to care for them by having a relaxed, calm nature, and not rewarding nervous behavior. We can best care for our dogs by being a calm and assertive leader.

So, in terms of why this relates to me grooming your dogs is that it is much more difficult to groom a nervous dog than a relaxed dog. I am trying to establish a relationship with your dog with my own calm energy. If you are standing right there next to me, the dog will always be trying to get the attention of you, because of one dog's best traits-loyalty! They are always going to be most loyal to you, their owner! However, if I am trying to trim a pup who keeps turning his head to look in your direction or is acting nervous to win your approval, it makes for a much more dangerous trim, of which I am not in favor. Grooming a dog is already a difficult task-using sharp scissors on a moving target that you cannot vocally reason with to let them know to stay still. Any added distractions are just that-added distractions.

The Solution

The best way to get a dog used to grooming is find a groomer that you trust-stop by and have a chat or bring your dog in and see how they react to the groomer/bather/salon.

Walk in the door confidently, holding the leash loosely and with your shoulders relaxed. Breathe deeply. As a reminder, it is best not to reward the nervous behavior, nor to discipline it--just completely ignore any nervous behavior; act as if everything is totally normal.

In our salon, it is our policy that if the dog is ever too stressed out, or acting in a peculiar or very aggressive manner, we stop grooming immediately and call the owner. We don't want your pup to be stressed out either. We would much rather have a calm, relaxed dog on the grooming table. Some dogs may take more time than others to reach that state. Every dog (just like every person) is different and is a work in progress-a living, breathing being, who is able to learn calm behavior and procedures in a grooming shop.