Grooming an aggressive dog can be a daunting task. In this post, our Stockton vets explain the reasons for aggression in some dogs during grooming, and how you can best put your pup at ease.
Aggression in Dogs
Many dogs show aggressive behavior that can become a problem for their owners and families. While almost all wild animals are aggressive by instinct when guarding their territories, defending themselves, or protecting their young, when animals are adopted as pets it's important to address any aggressive behavior with training.
Aggression can involve a wide range of behaviors that can lead to attacks and injuries (including dog bites when grooming).
Signs of aggression in dogs include:
- Threatening growl or bark
- Remaining still and not obeying instructions
- Growling when the dog's wishes aren't followed
- Snarling (baring teeth when growling)
- Mouthing the groomer
- A quick bite that leaves a mark
- A quick succession of bites
- Biting followed by shaking
In aggressive dogs, any of these symptoms may appear exclusively or in combination.
Aggressive Dog Grooming Issues
Dealing with aggressive dogs during grooming sessions takes extra care, caution, and training to keep both your pooch and the groomer safe (whether you choose to groom your dog yourself or make an appointment with our professional groomers at Bear Creek Veterinary Hospital).
An aggressive dog may bite or show other aggressive behaviors during grooming sessions for numerous reasons - whether they are feeling anxious, fearful, confused, or have had previous bad experiences while being groomed.
If your pup has had previous poor experiences while being groomed, they may act extremely defensive the next time they enter a grooming space. The dog may attempt to bite anyone who approaches or tries to touch them.
Grooming an Aggressive Dog
Since your canine friend will need to be groomed regularly, you'll need to train your dog to tolerate grooming. Our groomers recommend keeping these tips in mind and building trust with your pup when it's time to bathe and groom your dog. The less stress any pet is put under, the more calm and cooperative they will be.
Start Grooming Early
Introducing your dog to being groomed (and being taken to a groomer) as a puppy will save a lot of anxiety and stress down the road. Puppies enjoy having new experiences and are open to being socialized and learning. This makes it easier to train them to tolerate regular grooming. While it's not impossible to groom an older dog with prior poor experiences, you'll just need to invest more time and patience in training.
Use Positive Reinforcements
Positive reinforcement plays a role in training and can be a staple in grooming as well. Giving a treat before visiting the groomers (or before an at-home grooming session) may help keep them calm. You may want to give them another treat for sitting patiently during their bath and grooming.
Let Your Dog Explore the Equipment
Until your dog is completely comfortable with being groomed, keep sessions short and make an effort to introduce groomers, grooming equipment, and new procedures, allowing your pup time to become familiar and comfortable with them. Let your pooch sniff the grooming area for a while before settling in, following up with praise and a reward.
Once your dog can understand the groomer and the equipment isn't intended to hurt them, grooming will go smoother for everyone.
Use Preventive Measures if Necessary
Some aggressive dogs may not calm down during grooming sessions despite your best efforts. However, they'll still need to be groomed. Some solutions may include special anxiety-reducing jackets (during nail trims), organic and all-natural medications, or muzzles. Speak to your vet about which option(s) will be best for your dog, and consult your vet about any medications you're thinking of using before administering them to your pup.
If you choose to have our professional groomers in Stockton do the job for you, rest assured that we have the knowledge and experience needed to groom all types of dog coats and work with animals of a wide range of temperaments, including those that are stressed, anxious or aggravated.
In circumstances where an animal is especially aggressive or fearful, we may recommend sedation during a grooming session. However, most of the time we can manage these types of dogs by taking the advice listed above and taking the following steps:
- Offering treats
- Taking frequent breaks
- Playing music or opening a window
- Ensuring the environment is quiet, calm, and peaceful
- Asking your dog to perform an easy trick or action (such as 'sit' or 'shake paw')
At Bear Creek Veterinary Hospital, we always look forward to meeting your four-legged friends and providing advice to help keep your dog happy and healthy. Alternatively, we'd love to take the job of grooming off your hands to get this important task done right, with minimal fuss.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.