Grooming an aggressive dog has its own set of challenges, especially if the dog in question is large. Our Manchester vets discuss why dogs become aggressive and how you can get them used to being groomed.
What Does Dog Aggression Look Like?
There are many different behaviors that can constitute aggression in dogs and can become a problem for families and owners. 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 an owner's or carer's instructions
- Growling when the dog's wishes aren't followed
- Snarling (baring teeth when growling)
- Mouthing a person against his or her wishes in an effort to exert control
- A quick bite that leaves a mark, bruise or puncture in or on the skin
- A quick succession of bites
- Biting followed by shaking
In aggressive dogs, any of these symptoms may appear exclusively or in combination.
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 Animal Health Clinic).
If a dog is showing aggression, they may bite or display some of the other behaviors listed above for a number of reasons. They might be feeling anxious, fearful, confused or are remembering a previous bad experience.
If your dog has been traumatized by a previous bad experience during a grooming session, they may get very defensive the next time they are groomed. This can lead to biting and crawling anyone who tries to touch them.
How to Successfully Groom an Aggressive Dog
If 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 when your dog is young.
Setting up a foundation for grooming when your dog is young will go a long way once they get older. Desensitizing them as puppies will ultimately 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.
Creating positive experiences with positive reinforcement can be a great way to train your dog to enjoy grooming. Make sure to give high-value treats before visiting the groomer or before you groom them at home as this may help calm them down and get them into a better mindset. You will also want to give more treats for sitting patiently during their bath and grooming.
Allow time for your dog to explore 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 is able to understand the groomer and the equipment isn't intended to hurt them, grooming will go smoother for everyone.
Use preventive measures in emergency situations.
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 Manchester 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 are able to 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 Animal Health Clinic, 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.