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The Art of Keeping a Dog Calm During a Groom

Having a nervous dog during a groom is not unusual; removing them from a familiar environment and trying to get in and about all their business is enough to send any pet into a bit of a nervous frenzy. Knowing how to handle these nerves and creating a calm, collected and comfortable pet is necessary to achieving a safe and quality groom. How much can you really do if your client won’t stay still, am I right?

Dogs are friendly beings, looking to bond with the people around them, so it is important to remember they aren’t against you but in fact, they’re scared you’re against them. Showing them that you’re friendly through speaking to them, petting them, and being gentle with them, will help show them they can be comfortable with you. All they want to know is that they are in safe hands, they’ve been removed from their owner so nerves are expected but showing them, they have nothing to be afraid of will quickly make the nerves settle and the grooming experience much easier.

In order to achieve a truly adorable groom that you are striving for, you need a comfortable and cooperating client, so ensuring that the dogs’ needs at the core of every decision you make will show them that they can relax with you and guarantee the best outcome. Keep reading to get some of our best advice on achieving the calm and collected furry client every groomer hopes for…

Get Familiar

Just like us, being in unfamiliar surroundings with unfamiliar people can be scary, never mind it being the thing you like least… and for dogs, that is unfortunately grooming time! So as the groomer, there is only one of these things you can change, and it is the unfamiliarity. Letting the dog sniff around, get a good scent on the equipment you plan on using, will avoid any surprise and will give them a sense of control. With every groom, your furry client will become more familiar, but giving them a sense of authority with you ‘following their lead’ will help them ease into the first few grooms and hopefully settle the doggy nerves.


It’s no secret the key to any dog’s heart lies in the bottom of a treat tin and using these as a reward system will pretty much make any dog cooperate. Of course, this is something you need permission for, but owners permitting, rewarding your dog for staying calm after tricky parts of the grooming process will not only encourage the good behaviour, but will also help you to get on their good side. Nobody forgets someone who gave them food, not even dogs…

Although, if your owner doesn’t want you to give the treats, the power of petting, cuddles and verbal praise is not to be underestimated and is just as powerful as any treat. Using these as a method of reward will help you to achieve the same outcome and encourage your dog to relax.

Don’t Force it

If you are struggling to calm your client, the worst thing you can do is force it on them, this will only make it worse! Trying to get a dog to stay still if that isn’t what they want to do, will lead to a very distressed and untrusting dog, and once you reach this point, you are really at the point of no return. The best method for a non-cooperating pooch is to go at their pace… they don’t want to? That’s okay, give them a minute, let them sniff about, play with them, make them know you aren’t there to hurt them… chances are they will eventually begin to settle and bond with you enough to make the rest of the grooming experience much calmer. This rule applies throughout the grooming process, you might find your dog bounces between calm and nervous, at which point taking a break is your best friend! Showing the dog that you are reacting to their feelings and emotions will help to give them control and feel relaxed, they will notice that you don’t force the groom when they aren’t up for it and will begin to trust you. So, taking breaks if your furry client becomes worked up will not only give you both a breather, but have a positive effect in the long run.

One comment

  1. In my experience if a dog is really nervous they will not take a treat.
    Sometimes if the dog has had a bad grooming experience previously or they are from a rescue center they will not forget it no matter how much you reassure them.
    My practice is to discuss this with the owner and explain that my priority is the welfare of the dog and if they get too distressed rather than continue with the groom and put the dog through more distress you stop talk to the owner and advise or suggest the best way to manage going forward i.e natural calming methods or visiting a vet for some advice

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