Grooming a nervous dog

Grooming a nervous dog

I have just rehomed a small terrier cross with quite long, curly hair. I think the coat is going to need professional attention, but she is a very nervous little dog who gets worried about new experiences. How can I best prepare her for a visit to the groomer?

Stuart Simons advises…

Dogs are just like humans and can very easily get anxious about all sorts of things, and sometimes they can feed off their owner’s anxiety, too. The best thing that you can do as a new owner is to introduce your puppy to the grooming environment gently and at an early age. Too often I see dogs coming into the salon matted and unkempt ready to see me for their first groom at a year old! This is too late and totally unfair on the dog and the groomer.

As soon as a dog is safely vaccinated, he should be in for a puppy groom. Just a wash, brush and a light trim on the face, feet and bottom. If this is done regularly – about once a month – and gently up to six months, then the dog should have a stress-free grooming life going forward.

For rescue dogs, it can be a little trickier. If they have had a bad experience in the past, the groomer needs to work on desensitising the dog. It’s our job as professional groomers to turn the frown upside down! This can take a while and can be a little frustrating for owners, as they may not get the exact look they had hoped for on the first go. Please remember, though, that professional groomers are not hobbyists; they are trained professionals who can absolutely turn things around for frightened dogs. You must look around and go to one that fits with your breed and that you have a good relationship with.

To find a professional groomer in your area, visit

Alessandra Pacelli

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