Teach Your Pet Good Grooming Behavior for
Their Own Safety
What most people do not realize is how dangerous the pet grooming process can be for their pets. It does not matter how long a groomer has been grooming, accidents do happen. Pets are moving targets around sharp implements. This can be a train wreck waiting to happen. However, as pet owners you can reduce the odds of your pet getting injured by doing some simple things at home.
Puppies or Newly Acquired Adults:
I am a strong believer in reward/food training and with most pets when trying to train them to be groomed. Something special that they do not usually receive is generally in order. Small bits of hot dog, which as a vegetarian is a vile thing but I do it, or yellow cheese, which has great health benefits, may work wonders..
NEVER, EVER brush your pet on the floor. This is their turf and the only time they get yelled at is if they have a house training accident on the carpet. This is where they have fun, bark, play, run and humans many times are on the floor level making the two of you equals. Always elevate the pet at least to your waist height. This is where you need to be ALPHA dog and you are not equals. Use a countertop, washer/dryer, etc. Put a bath rug, the ones with rubber backing so they do not go flying off the surface.
When you are trying to groom either with clippers or hand scissoring you need that animal to hold perfectly still. The front head and front legs are the two places that usually cause problems.
To balance and hold the animal still to work on the head you need to hold them under the chin. If a pet does not hold still for this, it is very easy to poke one of the eyes, cut a tongue or lip. Practice by holding your pet under the chin “lightly.” The object is to not have them twist their head back and forth, up and down. Eventually you should be able to do this for 1 minute. Give them praise with lots of hugs, treats, loves and kisses for whatever amount of time they can manage.
Another dangerous area not only for dog but groomer. Many groomers get bitten when cutting nails. Play with your puppies paws, pull lightly on the toes, play with the inside of their pads, lightly pull the hair between them if you have a dog with that type of coat. Get them to let you hold their paw for 1 minute. More praise.
In order to hand scissor, as in a Bichon or Poodle and other breeds, you need to be able to hold the front legs out straight towards you. If you have 10 inch scissors and an animal jerking their leg it is very easy to cut the flesh on the inside of that leg. Hold their front legs out and as with the head, do not let them jerk or hop around. Practice the 1 minute rule as with the others. Again more praise.
Lumps and Bumps:
Always inform your groomer of any lumps you are aware of on your pet. Also ask if they have noticed any that you might have missed.
Moles and Warts:
Clipper blades cannot tell the difference between hair and skin yet alone moles or warts. Some breeds such as Schnauzers and Poodles have a high propensity as they age to acquire them. More often than not, those are clipped off during grooming leaving them bleeding and an open wound. There is an easy way to avoid that potential problem. Mark them with lipstick. Pink for dark colored dogs, red for light dogs. Now, I realize that there are single men reading this saying, no way am I going into a store to buy lipstick. Believe me, in some parts of the Metro area this would not be considered unusual. Buck up for your pets welfare and if Bruce Willis and Patrick Swayaze can dress up as women you can do this!
Most owners I know have no idea how to brush a pet for one simple reason: they were never shown how.
It may take a number of tries before you can get your pet to hold still but it is well worth the effort and patience in order to assist in more safe grooming for your pet. Ideally you should be able to brush your average 35-45 pound dog in less than a half hour.
The object of this exercise is to teach your pet to hold still, not dance about doing the 1960’s Twist and not bite the brush.
Usually you need one brush called a slicker and a metal comb to work with. For more information you can read further on this site under Grooming Tips. Start at the back leg (if your pet is not short haired), hold the foot out, pull the hair up with one hand and brush down with the other. Never just run the brush over the entire length of the dogs leg without getting down to the skin. When in doubt use the comb and comb through what you just brushed. In time you will learn to “hear” the mats or knots and not even have to look. If you are still having difficulty, ask your groomer next time to show you how to properly brush.
If they decide to eat or bite at the brush, the easiest thing is to simply let them. Turn it over, bristle side up. Without saying a word or even looking at them, let them knock themselves out. Usually after 4-5 times of biting at this rather unpleasant tool they will stop.
Regardless of the situation every animal needs to understand certain commands. In a grooming situation they need to know, Sit, Stay, Stand, No Bite is a great one and Turn is very helpful.
Never let them off the grooming surface until you are ready to let them down. Big or small they should never jump off the surface. Not only do they become the ALPHA dog telling you when you are finished, it can be very dangerous. Any size animal can break any part of their leg jumping off a grooming surface.
(Note on author: The advantage of opinions is they cannot be wrong and they cannot be right. Consequently all written material is strictly my opinion based on over 30 years working with animals. I do not believe in “experts” for one finds out quickly that there is always someone who is smarter, better educated and a wider life experience. If I was an expert and knew everything I would opt to be dictator of the world, not working with animals. I do not believe in statistics since for every con argument there are equal pro arguments to challenge those statistics. Consequently rarely, if ever do I use them.)