It can be quite the challenge to groom an aggressive dog. In this post, our Laguna Woods vets explain why some dogs become aggressive during a grooming session and offer tips to help make grooming less stressful for both you and your pup.
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 nature 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 proper training.
Aggression can involve a wide variety of behaviors that can lead to attacks and injuries (including dog bites when grooming).
Signs of aggression in dogs include:
- Growling when the dog's wishes aren't followed
- Snarling (baring teeth when growling)
- Threatening growl or bark
- Remaining still and not obeying an owner's or carer's instructions
- Quick succession of bites
- Biting followed by shaking
- Mouthing a person against his or her wishes to exert control
- A quick bite that leaves a mark, bruise, or puncture in or on the skin
In aggressive dogs, any of these symptoms may appear exclusively or in combinations.
Problems With Grooming Aggressive Dogs
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 Laguna Hills Animal 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.
How to Successfully Groom 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 at an Early Age.
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.
Allow Time for Your Dog to Explore the Grooming Equipment and Procedures.
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 equipment aren't intended to hurt them, grooming will go smoother for everyone.
Use Preventive Measures in Emergencies.
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 Laguna Woods 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 frightened, we may recommend sedation during a grooming session. However, most of the time we can manage these types of dogs by doing the things listed above, and taking the following steps:
- Ensuring the environment is quiet, calm, and peaceful
- Asking your dog to perform an easy trick or action (such as 'sit' or 'shake paw')
- Offering treats
- Taking frequent breaks
- Playing music or opening a window.
At Laguna Hills Animal Hospital, we always look forward to meeting your four-legged friends and providing advice to help keep your dog happy and healthy. Additionally, we'd love to take the job of grooming off your hands to get this important task done effectively and efficiently.
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.