Desensitizing your pet to being handled and touched is important to ensure that your pet isn’t afraid of getting groomed or being examined by a veterinarian. If you own a breed that will require regular grooming, you should start to desensitize them as a young puppy to prepare them for grooming appointments. It’s important that your dog get used to being touched on all parts of their head, ears, mouth, legs, feet, toenails, belly, and tail because these are all areas that will need to be touched by the groomer and your veterinarian.
It is especially important that you touch your dog’s paws to help desensitize them to nail trims, as many dogs grow up and don’t tolerate having their paws touched.
A good way to practice desensitizing your dog to touch is by pretending you are examining them. Stand your dog on a flat surface and examine and lift/handle various parts of their body, as if you were a veterinarian performing a physical exam. During this “exam”, try to touch their paws, ears, mouth, tail, and any other area that they might already be hesitant to let you touch. Make this “practice” grooming a positive experience for your dog by rewarding them with a treat for each area of their body that they let you touch or handle without getting upset.
You can practice getting them used to the tools that a groomer will use on them by exposing them to an electric toothbrush, a spoon, and a hair dryer. If you have an old electric toothbrush, turn it on and show it to your pet and place it against their body so they can become familiar with the buzzing noise and the vibration. This helps simulate to an animal what the feel of clipper blades or dremels for nail trims would be like.
A spoon is also helpful to get your dog used to having something metal near their face, as groomers often need to cut fur around the face by hand scissoring. If you have a blow dryer at home, you can turn it to the lowest heat setting and practice drying your pet with it so they become familiar with the sound and feel of being blow-dried. The more you work with your dog, the easier it will be down the road when it’s time for their grooming appointment or their annual exam.
With persistence and patience, you can make grooming a positive experience for your pet.
At Independence Pet Hospital of Monroe Ohio, the health and happiness of your pets is our number one priority. We will wash and groom them as if they were our very own. At the end of the day, we are all about building relationships to learn more about our grooming services or schedule a grooming session for your dog!