For lots of pets, visiting the groomer is as routine as going to the vet for a check-up. Some may enjoy the grooming experience (it’s like a doggie spa!) while others simply tolerate it. For a handful of pets, though, a grooming appointment might be a very anxiety-inducing experience. Your pup might be reluctant to enter the salon or act up when you try to leave them. Perhaps you have tried several different groomers and have been told repeatedly that your pet is too stressed and jumpy to safely groom. If this sounds like your pet, here are a few questions to ask yourself and some tips for reducing grooming anxiety.
- How old is your pet? Age can play a big role in a pet’s response to the grooming process. Very young and very old dogs tend to exhibit more anxiety than their middle-aged counterparts. Young puppies usually learn to accept and not fear the groomer’s once they have enough exposure to and experience with the process, the noise, the equipment, etc. The best thing to reduce puppy anxiety is to bring them to your groomer regularly, start slow, and brush them at home with lots of positive feedback and rewards. For senior pups, even if they have been groomed professionally for many years, sometimes what was once routine and safe now seems very unusual and scary. Arthritis might make standing on a grooming table difficult or painful. Reduced senses of sight and hearing can make the environment, people, and equipment unfamiliar and uncertain. Talk to your groomer for advice on how to move forward with future groomings to help ease your pet’s stress.
- How often does your pet get groomed? If your pet only goes in for grooming once or twice a year, regardless of their age, it is likely that the grooming process will cause much more anxiety for them than it would if they were groomed more frequently. Dogs love routine, and they love to know what to expect. If professional grooming is part of their routine, then they will not view being dropped off at the groomers as something unexpected and out of the ordinary (in other words, something to get anxious about). Depending on the breed and type of haircut, most pets can benefit from being groomed every 4-6 weeks. At Yappie Cuttery, we offer a VIP discount program for pets who come in every 6 weeks for a haircut.
- Is it really MY anxiety? We all love our pets, and being separated from them can be as difficult for us as it is for our fur babies. It is not uncommon for pet parents to tell us they have concerns about their pet’s anxiety, yet when we take them back to start grooming, everything goes really well! If this sounds familiar, consider whether your own anxiety is fueling your pet’s. At drop-off, keep your voice and body language calm and relaxed. Resist the urge to engage in a prolonged, emotional goodbye as you leave. Even before you arrive at the groomer’s, keep things as normal as possible at home as you get them leashed up and ready to go. Our furry friends know us so well that changes in our behavior, facial expressions, and body language can make them question if everything is okay. Your confidence helps them feel secure, so let them know grooming is nothing to fret about by setting a good example!
With patience and practice, most pets can learn that being groomed is nothing to worry about. We hope these tips help you and your pet for their next appointment.
The Yappie Cuttery Team