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How to Prepare Your Dog for Grooming Visits

Sylvan Corners Pet Hospital — Dog Visits in Citrus Heights, CA

When busy pet owners don’t have to stress about important grooming tasks, they enjoy more leisure time with their dogs. However, many dogs are scarred of grooming visits, especially if they’ve never been properly groomed before. Here are some methods to engage with your dog before visiting the groomers.


Young pets are far easier to acclimate to grooming because they’re curious, playful, and not scarred by past experiences. So visit the groomer early and often as part of puppy training. To begin training, your puppy must learn to accept short periods in a crate. Start by putting a favorite toy in the crate along with an item of your clothing. Leave the door to the crate open.

As your dog gets curious and explores the crate, begin closing the door and leaving the puppy inside for one minute. Stay nearby to offer comfort. Slowly increase the time in the crate until your puppy is used to being contained for longer periods since they will be crated for part of the grooming visit.

Handle your pup the way the groomers will. Every day for a few weeks before the first appointment, spend some time:

  • Brushing the dog all over (talk to a groomer about he proper tools to have at home)
  • Running your hands up and down legs (play shake a paw)
  • Handling ears, mouth, and face
  • Wiggling the toenails
  • Gently holding the tail

A young pup may be distracted in the middle of a brushing or grooming-prep session. Even if they seem to be ignoring your touch, they’re gradually adapting to being handled in a non-threatening way. You don’t need a puppy’s full attention to make an impact.

Adult Dogs:

If your adult dog hasn’t been to the groomer before, you might not be sure how he’s going to handle the whole ordeal. Spend some time with your dog before the visit to help your dog know what to expect.

Adult dogs can be acclimated to the sensory overload of a groomer’s shop if you start gradually and expose them to the items, smells, and sounds they will encounter during their session. Use this same method to get puppies used to loud grooming equipment.

Before you begin to train your dog, assemble the items the groomer will use. Items may include:

  • Comb & Brush
  • Nail clippers
  • Hair trimmer (electric toothbrush sounds similar)
  • Hair dryer
  • Water sprayer

Be patient when introducing these items to an adult dog. For example, nothing will be gained if you suddenly turn on the hair dryer, point it in your dog’s direction, and hope he doesn’t freak out.

Leave the hair dryer unplugged at first. Sit down with your dog in a relaxing play spot. Set the dryer on the floor amongst toys. Let the dog sniff the dryer. When he spends time near the dryer, offer a treat. After your dog is fine with the dryer, flip it on for a second, then turn it off again.

Gradually increase the time you leave the dryer on, but don’t point it at your dog. Any time the dog steps closer to the turned-on dryer, offer a treat or a reward. Use this method to introduce clippers and other items, too. With clippers (electric toothbrush) slowly move it around the dogs head and alow them to feel the vibration.

Rescue Dogs:

Dogs with behavioral issues or a history of abuse pose special challenges. Use the methods above to help your dog get used to grooming. Note any special fears or sensitivities exhibited by your dog. Alert your groomer to your dog’s idiosyncrasies so they can help your dog have a good experiance.

Visit the groomer’s office several times before the appointment date for a casual sit-down. Offer lots of treats to your dog to help him relax.

In some cases, a muzzle must be used for the safety of the groomer and the dog.  Train your dog to wear the muzzle around the house so it isn’t associated only with the groomer.  Always mention to the groomer if your dog is a biter.

For further advice or to book an appointment, talk to one of our groomers at Head To Tail Pet Spa.