Grooming for Dogs, we’re advised to teach them manners right from the get go… sit, stay, heel and walk politely on the lead, but have you (the owner) prepared yourself for the grooming salon? I personally will never forget my first trip to the dog groomer. She took the time to stand and tell me all that I am about to share with you, which, in turn, has inspired me to always talk my clients through this training with every first visit. Otherwise if your dog trainer doesn’t start you on this process, who will?
There are so many breeds of dogs that need regular visits to the groomer, such as Toy Poodle, Poodle, Bichon Frise, Cavoodle, Spoodle, Labradoodle, Mini Groodles, Lagotto Romagnolo, Bichon x Toy Poodle, Spitz, Schnauzer, Shnoodles you name it, all dogs need a regular groom for health and hygiene reasons. Fact is, your dog groomer will pick up on a problem with your dog before you do. So it is important to trust your groomer and ask questions about their clip.
It’s also important we start as early as possible (usually before 16 weeks). Why? Well because our puppies soak up information like a sponge. Another reason we advise to start the process early is because the puppy needs to be comfortable with the process and desensitisation needs to start in the socialisation stage, hence the reason for puppy school. It is just like kids at school, some kids/dogs are outspoken, some are quiet, however, this doesn’t mean they’re not taking in what you are asking of them, they just respond differently.
Okay, so here I am talking about puppies. It is also possible to train older dogs too. This is where a regular visit to your dog groomer for their 6-8 weekly appointment will help them get used to the salon, groomer and the noises. I am saying this for older dogs yes, some dogs do hate it, however, they come to tolerate it and trust the groomer.
Tools & Apps: There is a fabulous training app for both IOS and Android called Soundproof Puppy Training which also has a clipper version which simulates the noise and has vibration.
The idea is you must start with low volume (setting 1), feed dog treats when playing sound, then move phone over the dog’s body (so it vibrates and they can get an experience of clipper), then increase sound. Take it easy. Do this twice a day for 30 seconds to 1 minute, for 1 week, aiming to increase the volume by the end of the week.
Okay, so let’s start the pet grooming process by playing with their feet and nails by rubbing, stroking and holding their legs gently. This is where we start to desensitise the feeling of their legs being played with. An electric toothbrush or Soundproof Puppy Training (see link above, this is a great tool to mimic clippers.
Sessions should be short, sweet and always *positive!!!
The next session would ideally take place the following day. Here you should stroke, hold and comb your dog daily, do not give into any struggles (but don’t hold them down either) and let’s keep this short and sweet. Always *reward on good behaviour (dog allowing you to do this, being calm etc) and ignore bad behaviour (such as biting at the comb, or struggling). Start by slowly extending sessions to longer periods.
The next step in the dog grooming process involves the table. This is a big deal, quite like the visits to the vet. Place a towel on the table every night and start by making your puppy stand still, after 1 minute reward and say “free” and place the dog on the floor with heaps of *praise!! Not all dogs like to stand on a table, they would prefer to lean on the groomer or lie down. We know they can jump on the couch, or on the ottoman or even on the chair. Well the next thing would be to place them on the table and *reward heavily. Guiding them to stand up for 1 min to start, then 2 mins the following day then next session 3 mins and so on over the weeks. Dog should initially just build up to 5 mins max, keeping sessions short and of a good confidence building experience. *Rewards, rewards, rewards. We can’t give enough when we start with this training, it’s important to give treats and food rewards on the table. If your dog is not food driven then let’s try the squeaky toy and let’s make the session fun.
Again refer to your dog trainer for further tips.
Please don’t ever get frustrated with your dog. Ask him to sit, reward and end the session, always on a high note. “Good job!!”
Drying. Okay so when you are getting ready for work invite your pooch into the bathroom with you. Lay the dryer on the ground turned off and play a game with it and wait for their positive reaction, when they do react positively, reward them. Now slowly turn it on low and cool, again repeat this process and end the game after their first positive reaction, feed treats while the dryer is on for a few seconds. So on and so on, repeat on other days. It is important to take it slow, steady and keep the session short and increase over time.
It’s vital to not flood the dog with noise and air if they do not like it, turn it off and make a sound to say it’s all okay. Place back on the ground and start again and reward at every positive reaction* a puppy biting at the dryer is not positive or playful so ignore this behaviour, don’t turn it off until they stop. When they do, say “good job!!”, high pitch and playfully with a pat.
In the same way that you would desensitise your dog to the vet, you will also go and meet your new dog groomer, take your dog in to meet them first before you start the process. Leave with your pooch after 5-10 mins and make it very *positive, this is literally a good introduction into a world where he or she will be left behind. Your dog needs to know you will be coming back and that their “new” dog groomer is the next best thing to you and your family; it is about the dog’s relationship with the groomer.
Finally and most importantly, pre plan and try to keep your appointments
Book back in straight away and stick to a schedule with your groomers advice and ask for their feedback. How was my dog on the table? What training do we need to do? What is she scared of? The worst thing you can do is keep moving to different groomers. Imagine your mum making you go to a new school, yet you move every 2-3 classes? Xmas is not far off and most dog grooming salons in melbourne are booked out, so book ahead, plan and work with your groomer and their advice regarding desensitising your dog in-between grooming. If in doubt speak to your dog trainer for tips to manage training. Your dog groomer based in melbourne will do the rest!
With Love She Walks @_The_Shearing_Shed_Brunswick