Anxiety at the Groomer- What’s An Owner To Do?

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Every day at See Spot, at least one pet and his owner arrive for their scheduled appointment and Spot is shaking as if he were about to enter the Worlds Worst Doggie Torture Chamber.  Regardless of how well his previous grooms have gone, or perhaps it’s his first visit ever to our professional salon, his owner asks the dog the inevitable question “Don’t you like it here?”  As as groomers we sigh an inward groan and assure the owner that the pet will be just fine.  We see this particular behavior often and are well-equipped to help your pet adjust to the surroundings, a relaxed grooming experience, and endeavor to train each pet to learn to enjoy their time spent with a groomer.  So why, you ask, does my dog begin shaking uncontrollably when we arrive?

The sooner owner and anxious pet are separated from one another- the more quickly the situation will dissolve and the pet will begin to relax.  For a worried owner, this is the worst part. You know your pet well and you are concerned by that look of distress on his face.  And he knows you well and becomes more distressed the more you worry.  He reasons if Dog Mom is worried, then perhaps he should really worry as well. Our goal at See Spot as pet service professionals is to make this a better experience from the start before the groom even happens. Happy dogs are easier to produce great haircuts and allow groomers to showcase our best work-  and we want to do our best for you every time!

Pet owners know that dogs are highly sensitive creatures- they are in tune with our moods, feelings, and inner thoughts. Dogs are so sensitive to our energy that at times can detect seizures, low blood pressure in diabetics and even pregnancy.

Therefore it’s easy for emotions to escalate and your dog is constantly trying to read how you feel about every situation. Especially when they are exposed to something less familiar or new.  They react to the worry, or even the owner being worried about the dog’s worry. In any case, it can be a vicious circle that gets out of hand easily. It subsides quickly when the dog is removed from the effect of those enotions and handled in a calm and reassuring manner.  Then the cycle repeats again when we start thinking about how much our pooch dreads going to the salon, and we dread leaving him there with that dread.

So how do we go about ending this vicious cycle? The first thing is to make sure you have a groomer that you know and trust – feeling comfortable and personally knowing your dog is in good hands gives you the confidence to execute a flawless drop-off. To familiarize yourself with the groomer, talk to them before hand about any concerns you have before even bringing your dog for his groom, ask to see the grooming space, come by without your pup while other dogs are being groomed so you can see how the groomers interact with the pups. Every groomer has a unique handling style and matching their energy to that of your pet is a great step toward success. Having a good relationship with your groomer or salon is half the battle.

So, what can you do as an owner on grooming day?

– Make sure to spend as little time as possible checking in; the longer you prolong the departure, the more stress and anxiety build. When you make it a big deal, it becomes a big deal. Be calm, matter of fact, and confident.

– Leave first; the worst thing you can do is stay and have someone pry your dog away from you to some terrible fate. 99% of the time they will follow the groomer after you leave because they are no longer fixated on you.

– Don’t say goodbye; if you leave as though you’ll be back in 5 minutes there will be less reason for your dog to stress out. A great way to practice this is to come in a few times on days before the groom, walk in with your dog on a leash and hand the leash off to a staff all while making no eye contact with your dog, and then leaving as easily as you came in. Have the staff praise your dog once you’ve left and when they’re calm. Come back in a few minutes. You may want to try this a few times with longer spans of time. Letting the staff know what you would like to do for your dog’s haircut ahead of time helps execute a flawless drop-off because it enables you to come in, keep the conversation short without making eye contact with your dog, and then walking out without blinking an eye.

All of these useful tips and tricks are small changes that once made will achieve big results with your dog. If you are more confident in what’s happening, it will turn into a more confident dog. At See Spot we strive to make certain that every dog/every groom/every day pets are handled in educated and professional ways to create long lasting and satisfying results for our client family.