Taking our dogs to the groomers can often be an unavoidable part of dog ownership. As much as we would love to be able to deal with the issue of overgrown pet hair and long nails ourselves, we often simply don’t have the skill or confidence to do so. The biggest problem with this is that our pets are often not so keen on the idea, sometimes to the point of anxiety. What can dog owners do to help to calm their pets down before a grooming session to make the experience easier for all concerned?
For some, a simple form of OTC tranquilizer is the best way to get a dog to remain calm enough to be handled by the groomer. These drugs can keep them relaxed, in both body and mind, reducing the risk of any sudden movements, spasm or other reactions to being touched. This is approach is not favored by everyone, however, and there are some dog owners that would rather deal with unruly pet hair themselves than have to give their dog questionable tablets or liquids before they travel to the groomers. Sedation requires careful dosages of safe substances and constant monitoring of the dogs condition, which is why the following options may be preferable.
Natural Alternatives to Sedatives
It is possible to keep a dog calm and to reduce anxiety with the help of natural methods like herbs, oils and pheromones. Many of us would much rather drink a cup of herbal tea or enjoy some soothing aromatherapy than pop a pill, so why not use that mentality when dealing with grooming anxiety. The scent of lavender and chamomile can do wonders for calming dogs – a few little drops of an essential oil on the back of the neck – but pheromones can be even more advantageous. When a dog smells these sprays, or wears a special collar, it triggers primal memories of their mothers and gives them the sense that everything will be OK.
Aiding Anxiety is also about Providing a Comfortable Environment
These forms of sedative have their benefits, but they can be much more effective in the right environment. Part of the stress of grooming may be the unfamiliar, noisy environment of the groomers, not just the act of having their fur and nails handled. One solution could be to have a groomer come to the house. If that cannot be arranged, let your dog take some creature comforts with them, such as an old teddy bear or a favorite blanket. In addition to this, never underestimate the importance of your presence in the room.
Try and Make the Experience as Positive as Possible from an Early Age
It is always much easier to groom a dog that has been trained to become used to the procedure from an early age. Try and get the used to having their feet handled and being groomed by strangers as puppies so that they do not develop a great anxiety as adult dogs. If this cannot be done, the tips above should prove to great aids for soothing pets when you need to cut pet hair, trim their nails and give them a good clean.