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How to Groom an Aggressive Dog

It can be a challenge grooming an aggressive dog. In this post, our Murfreesboro vets explain why some dogs become aggressive when it comes to grooming and offer tips to help make grooming sessions less stressful for both you and your pooch.

Aggression in Dogs

Many dogs exhibit aggressive behavior, which can be difficult for their owners and families to deal with. 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 is critical 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 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 Medical Center). 

An aggressive dog may bite or exhibit other aggressive behaviors during grooming sessions for a variety of reasons, including anxiety, fear, confusion, or previous bad grooming experiences.

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 

Because your dog will need to be groomed on a regular basis, you must train him to tolerate grooming. When it comes to bathing and grooming your dog, our groomers recommend following these guidelines and building trust with your pet. The less stress a pet endures, the calmer and more cooperative it becomes.

Start grooming when your dog is young.

You'll relieve yourself of a lot of anxiety and stress if you start your dog's grooming experience early on (and take him to the groomer). Puppies are open to new experiences and are eager to learn and socialize. This makes it simpler to train them to accept routine grooming. While it is possible to groom an older dog who has had unpleasant grooming experiences, you will need to devote more time and patience to training.

Use positive reinforcements.

Training and grooming both involve the use of positive reinforcement. Prior to visiting the groomer (or prior to an at-home grooming session), giving them a treat may promote relaxation. You might want to reward them with yet another treat for waiting patiently while you clean and groom them.

Allow time for your dog to explore grooming equipment and procedures.

Once your dog is completely comfortable with grooming sessions, keep them brief. Also, try to introduce groomers, grooming tools, and new procedures gradually to give your dog time to get used to and feel comfortable with them. Before settling in, give your dog a few minutes to sniff the grooming area. After that, praise and a treat should be given.

Once your dog can understand the groomer and the equipment isn't intended to hurt them, grooming will go smoother for everyone. 

Use preventive measures in emergencies. 

Some aggressive dogs may refuse to calm down during grooming sessions, despite your best efforts. They will, however, need to be groomed. Some possible solutions include anxiety-reducing jackets (during nail trims), organic and all-natural medications, and muzzles. Speak with your vet about which option(s) will be best for your dog, and consult with your vet before giving your dog any medications.

If you choose to have our professional groomers in Murfreesboro 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 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 Animal Medical Center, 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.

Have questions about grooming your aggressive dog, or want to schedule a grooming session for your pooch? Contact Animal Medical Center to book an appointment. 

New Patients Always Welcome

Animal Medical Center is happy to welcome new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about improving the health of Murfreesboro companion animals. Contact us today to book your pet's first appointment.

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