Have you ever found yourself googling ‘Pet groomer near me’ or ‘Dog grooming near me’? You took an appointment for your furry baby hoping for an amazing dog spa session. But when you reached the grooming salon, your pet got scared of the new surroundings and refused to cooperate. The whole situation created a negative association with grooming and the trip turned futile.
What is it that you could do differently? How can you make your pet’s grooming experience positive and cheerful?
First, let’s focus on what leads to such behavior in pets -
- Identify the stress stimulus
Each pet is unique. And so are their stressors. On your next dog grooming visit, identify what’s causing panic and stress in your pet. Is it because of a new environment, any grooming appliance like nail trimmer or brush or the way they are being handled? This will give you insights into the working of your pet’s thoughts and what’s causing such behavior.
Dog nail clipping can be genuinely scary for dogs
Once you have identified the triggers, start working on creating positive associations with the stimulus. For example, most pets are unfamiliar with the hair dryer and get anxious when it is used around them. One way to get them used to this sound is by using the hair dryer at home for 30 seconds to 1 minute to get your pets familiarized with this sound. This will help them feel calm during their next grooming session. Gradually, your pet will show improvement! Don’t forget to seek help from a dog behaviorist or trainer to get some much-needed help.
- Previous negative experiences
If your pet is afraid of vet visits or grooming sessions, there’s also an equal chance of past trauma. Just like humans, pets also experience a ‘negativity bias.’ It simply means that we tend to remember the negatives more than the positives. So any past negative experience or trauma will be remembered more than any positive experience.
For example, if your pet has had a bad experience with another pet at the vet’s office, they will tend to remember it more vividly than any other positive experience.
- Fear of the unknown
The most common reason why your pet is not feeling comfortable at the vet’s clinic or at the grooming salon. This is especially true in the case of cats. New smells, new locations, new people etc can upset them easily. The sense of unfamiliarity can be stressful and as a result, pets can end up freaking out.
Here are some tips from our in-house experts on preparing your pet or rather desensitizing them before a vet or grooming appointment.
- Do your homework
Grooming and vet visits can seem an alien concept to pets since it happens once in a while. If your pet is afraid of the process, then start at home. Examine them the way a vet would. Start with gently touching their bodies, ears, legs etc. It will take time for them to get comfortable so don’t give up. This way, a vet’s or a groomer’s touch won’t seem so new.
Start with a fun bath time at home!
- Pay a fun visit to the vet and groomer
Dog grooming can especially be a stressful event for some pets. One way to create a positive association is to pay frequent visits to the vet and the groomer. Get the staff to give some treats, involve them in a fun game of fetch or tug of war. Do everything except grooming.
Once your pet is comfortable, take it up a notch by bringing them to the vet’s cabin or groomer’s den. Let the staff interact with your pet. Repeat this process until the next visit is scheduled.
- Keep your calm too!
Our pets are smart! They can sense our fear, anxiety, stress and it reflects in their behavior too. We understand that watching your furbaby panic affects you too. But try and stay calm because you want your pet to have a positive experience. Remember, half of your pet’s anxiety depends on your responses.
- Anti-anxiety medicines -
Another amazing and safe way to keep your pets calm before a vet or groomer visit is to give them anti-anxiety medicines. Try using Hemp Seed Oil or Cannabis Oil a few hours before the scheduled visit. They are 100% natural and have calming and anti-anxiety properties that help bring a sense of peace that makes the whole process a little easier.
When choosing an anti-anxiety oil for your pet, remember to opt only for vet-approved oils that are100% safe for topical and oral use. Follow the dosage instructions as mentioned on the label. Do not use over-the-counter anti-anxiety medications as they can have adverse effects on their health.
Always consult your veterinarian for over-the-counter anti-anxiety medicines dosage. Do not self-medicate.
Anxiety during grooming can be reduced by Cannabis-based oils.
- A favorite treat to the rescue
A visit to the groomer and vet is incomplete without your pet’s favorite treats by their side. Get your dog’s favorite treats like peanut butter and carry a lick mat. Spread the buttery goodness on the mat, push it against the wall for it to stick and let your dog enjoy the taste while they get their hair styling done.
A silicone-grade lick mat has several non-pointy heads. Just spread a spoonful of 100% natural peanut butter on the mat evenly and paste it on the wall.
This will serve two purposes -
- It will create a positive association with the process of grooming and vet checkups.
- And it will keep them occupied for a good amount of time by distracting them from the process.
- Call the vet and groomer home
Keep it simple, call them home!
There’s nothing better for our pets than the comfort of their home. It ticks all the boxes of familiarity, comfort and you! Simply book your next vet on call or groomer appointment at home, according to your convenience and time. The known feeling of their beds, balcony and bowls will keep them calm throughout the session.
- Opt for training and behavioral sessions
Sometimes the underlying cause of fear and sensitivity may be graver than what we imagine it to be. In such a case, please take professional help from a canine trainer and behaviorist to understand the cause. Understanding your dog better will help you tackle the issues with the right solutions. You can also opt for online consultations where you can directly communicate with the trainer and behaviorist.
Till then what can you do?
Anxious pets are scared pets. Till the time you see a change, follow these -
Desensitizing your pet can take some time. It is a slow process that is time-consuming but worth every effort. Don’t be afraid to seek help from your fellow pet parents and veterinary professionals. Join online pet parenting groups like Wiggles Tribe and share your experience with them. And don’t forget, we are just a call away!
Team Wiggles has started an initiative called #BondedByBlood through which we are trying to create an online repository of ready pet donors. Register your pet today & save a life tomorrow - https://bit.ly/BBBDonorRegistration
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*Disclaimer: This blog is vet-approved and includes original content which is compiled after thorough research and authenticity by our in-house team of vets and content experts. It is always advisable to consult a veterinarian before you try any products, pet food or any kind of treatment/medicines on your pets, as each pet is unique and will respond differently.