The following article will explain why your dog might be sad after a grooming session.
It will also give you tips on how to make your dog feel better during and after the grooming process.
“My dog is sad after grooming” I hear this said often from many pet parents. Why is this? Well, the short answer is that they are sad because the whole experience was a shock to them!
The long answer is that the grooming process can be stressful for a pet. Not only are dogs dealing with being handled and examined, but they must also cope with the change in their environment.
Let’s face it a grooming session can be very intimidating for most pets. That is why it is important to get them used to this procedure as early as possible.
How It All Starts
The best thing you can do to get your dog used to the grooming process is to start them off at an early age!
This means starting right away, as soon as you bring home your puppy. It is best to start grooming sessions at a young age so that the association between hand and ear is positive and not one of fear.
This is important if you want your dog to tolerate being groomed in the future.
Groomers can be very helpful during these early stages as well. An experienced groomer can help you get started on the right foot with your pet and will also help you to understand what your dog is feeling at the time of grooming.
They will also be able to suggest ways to decrease the stress if your dog is not being cooperative. The groomer can be an invaluable support during this time.
Another thing that groomers can do to help you better understand your dog’s behavior is to give you a description of what they are seeing at the time.
For example, they might say “he seems nervous.” Or “your dog is having a hard time focusing on me.”
They can tell you things about your dog’s behavior and this will help you to understand them in the future.
How to Tell If Your Dog Is Sad
There are a few key signs that pet parents can look for:
1. Your dog seems depressed or down for a few hours immediately following the grooming session.
2. Your dog has a blank, staring expression on his face that he doesn’t have on any other day of the week.
3. Your dog acts uncomfortable or stressed when you try to touch his body in places where you normally touch him (e.g., petting him).
He also might be more jumpy than usual and avoid being petted in specific areas of his body (e.g., belly vs back).
4. Your dog cries, whines, or seems stressed when you pet him in specific areas of his body (e.g., belly vs back).
How To Avoid Sadness in Your Dog
Now that we know how to tell which dogs might be sad after grooming, what can we do about it?
The best thing pet parents can do is to prepare their canine companions for their next grooming session.
Here are a few tips that have helped many people’s dogs feel better during and after a grooming session.
These tips can be applied to any type of grooming, whether you are clipping nails, bathing your dog, or haircutting your dog’s hair.
1. Feed your dog an hour before the grooming session. Remember to take the time to give him treats too.
If you simply offer him some food and leave, he might get upset when you drop by for his regular visit the next day. Give him some special loving attention before his brush-down as well.
2. Have a discussion with your dog about his experience during the grooming session.
Use a positive tone of voice and talk to him as if you know what he is thinking.
For example: “Oh, I know this might not feel good for you, but I promise it will feel much better after our groomer works on you.”
You can also say that your dog’s hair should grow back soon and that he will feel much better just as soon as he grows his hair back.
3. As your dog gets more comfortable during the grooming process, you can try to have him sit down (e.g., on a grooming table) rather than stand up (e.g., on a counter).
This will minimize any discomfort he might feel during the grooming session.
4. If you are giving your dog a bath, give him some food or a treat before he goes in the tub and tell him how special he is to you as you prepare his bath.
It’s also important to put his leash on him so that he doesn’t leave the bathroom while you are bathing him. He’ll likely have a hard time relaxing if he has to wait outside of the bathroom door until you are done with his bath.
5. Be sure to groom your dog in a calm and quiet environment (if possible) when giving your dog a trim or haircut.
The more relaxed your dog is, the less likely he will be overwhelmed by all of the grooming equipment.
6. Consider using a conditioner or detangling conditioner on your dog’s coat while you are brushing him down to minimize any discomfort he might feel from the pulling of the grooming brush.
7. If you clip your dog’s nails before giving him a haircut, be sure to have a positive experience with nail clipping before you start carrying out the big job of cutting his hair.
Give your dog plenty of treats during the nail-clipping session so he feels good about the process.
8. Don’t make your dog wait in a grooming area for very long after his grooming session is finished.
Most dogs will feel sad or depressed if they have to wait for an hour after their grooming session is finished — even if they look great!
9. Be sure to give your dog some special attention and treats at home just as soon as he returns from his grooming session, even if he looks sad temporarily.
Pat him on the head and tell him how cute he looks.
10. Be patient with your dog when he returns from a grooming session. Give him some time to adjust to his new look by leaving him alone for a few hours to get used to it.
As long as he feels comfortable, you can try playing with him later on in the evening.
11. It’s important to start canine grooming sessions when your dog is between 5 and 8 months of age.
Younger dogs are still getting used to their surroundings and might become overwhelmed by the experience of the grooming session.
12. Take a look at your pooch’s ears when he comes out from a grooming session. If his ears look like they need a bath, gently wash them with warm water until they are clean and dry them off with a towel afterwards.
Give him some treats while you are doing it so he feels happy about being groomed again. Some dogs might be frightened of water, so speak in a relaxed tone and talk to them as if you know what they are thinking about.
13. If you think your dog might be getting the hang of the grooming process, try having him sit up on a grooming table (e.g., in a grooming salon) rather than to stand down on a counter (e.g., at home).
This will minimize any discomfort he might feel during the grooming session and help him adjust to being groomed more easily.
14. Never give your dog a tranquillizer before his grooming session. Tranquilizers will make him feel drowsy and might complicate his experience during the grooming session.
Remember that there are many ways you can reduce the stress and sadness that your dog may feel after a grooming session.
The key is to have a positive discussion about it with him and to remember to reward him for trying new things!
15. If your dog is still sad or stressed after his grooming session, ask your groomer if she would be willing to offer him special treats next time.
You might even consider brushing him down while you are in the salon so that he knows what it feels like before you take him home.
16. If you notice that your dog is sad and stressed after a grooming session, speak with the people at the grooming salon about his specific reaction (e.g., pulled on his ear during nail clipping).
They might be able to help you find the right solution to your dog’s problem. The best thing you can do if your dog feels stuck or overwhelmed during a grooming session is to simply leave the room and let him calm down.
If you stay in the room, you might cause further stress for your dog and make the situation worse.
17. If you have difficulty calming your dog down after a grooming session, pick him up and carry him to another room in your house (e.g., bedroom).
Tell him how special he is to you while ignoring any barking or crying. If your dog is still upset about being groomed, give him a bath with his favorite shampoo to make him smell good again.
18. Don’t forget to reward your dog for trying new things. You might even consider taking him for a walk so he can feel good about himself again.
19. If your dog has a bad reaction to the grooming equipment or fails to get used to it, be sure to ask the groomer’s assistant if you could try another kind of grooming session in the future.
Some people find that one kind of grooming tool won’t work for one dog but will work well for another.
20. Don’t forget about using positive reinforcement with your dog during the grooming process: Dogs are social animals and might feel shy at times when it’s time for their haircut.
Your dog will look forward to grooming sessions more if he feels good about them. You can help your pooch feel better by offering him some treats and talking to him in a loving voice when you approach him after his grooming session.
Additional Tips To Avoid Grooming Sadness
It’s also important to groom your dog at the perfect time of day just after feeding him his dinner or breakfast so that he is well-fed (and therefore well-behaved) during the grooming session.
Patience is another key factor because it might take a few grooming sessions before your dog feels comfortable being brushed down or having his nails clipped.
Don’t be too aggressive with your dog during grooming sessions, because he will associate the experience with being dominated instead of feeling confident and happy.
Also, ensure that no one makes your dog feel stressed during a grooming session by having a third party (e.g., groomer or vet technician) do the brushing or cutting if you are not comfortable with it.
Offer your dog some special attention as soon as he is done being groomed so that he feels happy about his new look.
Mental stimulation can also help dogs feel happier after being groomed because they will have more to occupy their minds after the grooming session is finished.
If your dog is obedient and listens to you, he will probably enjoy being groomed much more.
Dogs don’t like having their ears cleaned when they are standing upright, so make sure that you offer to clean your dog’s ears before he stands up during a grooming session.
Make sure you have a positive experience with your dog when clipping his nails so that he feels positive about having them clipped in the future.
Use treats during nail-clipping sessions so that he feels happy rather than angry about having his nails trimmed.
If you notice tears or sores on your dog’s feet, it might be caused by poor nail care.
So, before cutting your dog’s hair, be sure to take him to the vet so an ear and nail check can be done.
We all want our dogs to look their best, but we should never forget that they feel just as great.
If the grooming process is going well for your pooch and it’s not something that he feels bad about or gets depressed about (e.g. having his hair cut or nails trimmed), then be sure that you reward him for being a good sport.
In addition to treats, you can give your dog some cuddles and rubs so that he feels comfortable being groomed.
Good luck with all of your future grooming sessions! Remember, don’t be too pushy or rough with your dog during grooming sessions because he will feel less confident about the experience if he is worried about getting hurt.
By following these tips, you will likely help your dog feel better about being groomed by helping him understand that you are grooming him because you love him and want him to look his best.
Even if you do not master all these tips, petting your pooch as soon as he comes out of the grooming session will always help make things better.
Hopefully, your dog will get used to the grooming process over time and be OK with it. If you follow these tips, you will eventually experience a much more positive grooming experience for both you and your pooch!