Good hygiene habits are essential for a healthy, happy dog. But canines generally dislike being groomed and would often struggle when restrained. So, as a responsible guardian, how do you restrain a dog while grooming regardless of size?
Understanding your dog’s aggressive behavior will help you counteract and properly deal with their aggression. Dogs are smart animals and aren’t purposely being difficult just to spite you. Forcefully restraining your dog may cause them to struggle even more, which we want to avoid as much as we can.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to properly restrain your dog without injuring them, and how to make grooming an overall pleasant experience for both pet and owner.
Understanding Your Dog’s Perspective: Why Do They Struggle?
Anxiety in dogs isn’t uncommon. In fact, a recent study shows that a surprising 70% of dogs display anxiety. No matter how your dog’s fear manifested, preventive measures must be put in place before it escalates to aggression.
Think of it this way: If you were suddenly restrained, especially without understanding why, wouldn’t you be scared and struggle to be released? On top of being forced to stay still while subjected to odd tools you’ve never seen, it’s enough to make anyone seize up in fear.
The best thing to do in such situations is to take control. Make your dog understand that you won’t hurt them, and they’re not being punished.
Remember not to falter or show fear. Be confident and firm with your dog, but gentle at the same time. Positive reinforcements work wonders with dogs, as with any other pet.
Tools You Need
Depending on your dog’s breed, there is a multitude of grooming tools to select from. Here’s a list of must-haves before grooming your dog:
- Deshedding and Dematting tools
- Wireless Dog Hair Clipper
- Dog Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Cotton Sticks
- High-Quality Shampoo
- Sharp Nail Clippers
Things to Consider Before Restraining Your Dog
It’s definitely frustrating to deal with a dog that’s constantly wriggling, pulling away, snarling, and even biting. But you have to remember that your dog is naturally predisposed to think that any restraint is a form of punishment. They just need to understand that it isn’t.
Here are some helpful tips to note before restraining your dog.
Prioritize Your Dog’s Comfort
It’s always best to groom your dog on a non-slip table or mat to prevent slipping.
When restraining your dog, never force them to stay still or put pressure on the arm around their neck. Don’t restrict their movement entirely.
If you’re using restraining tools, make sure to purchase a product specifically for grooming dogs. Search for one that easily loops around your dog’s neck, with a material that wouldn’t cause burns or bruises.
If needed, don’t be afraid to use a muzzle. Just until your dog gets used to grooming and understands that you’re not going to hurt them.
Be Gentle but Firm
It’s important for your dog to understand that you’re in control. Keep your grooming sessions frequent and short, making sure you’re adopting a positive yet stern attitude all throughout.
Your dog will eventually realize you’re not out to harm them, and, in turn, adopt a more docile attitude. This will allow you to groom them until the end without any hassle.
It can be difficult and a bit scary, but do your best to never end a grooming session when your dog is displaying aggression. They might think that just because you’ve stopped, they’ve won, and will continue to show the same attitude every time you clean them.
Identify What Triggers Your Dog
Why does your dog struggle so much? Are they in pain? Do they feel discomfort? Is there anything in particular that reminds them of a traumatizing grooming session?
Identify what part of the grooming experience makes your dog uncomfortable or panicky. Once you do, tackle each issue individually.
For instance, if your dog is frightened when they’re lifted onto the grooming table, look for alternative options like ramps or stairs, and allow them to climb up on their own.
If they dislike the surface of the grooming table, whether because it’s too cold, warm, or slippery, place towels or anti-slip mats under them and gauge their response.
Facial wipes or lightly dampened towels can be utilized for dogs who have an aversion to running water.
Use Treats Wisely
Keep a number of treats handy whenever you groom your dog. Treats can help coax them into being less volatile. This also allows dogs to enjoy their grooming sessions.
Treats are a great tool to use to associate grooming with a positive experience. But only feed them treats if they’re behaving properly. Don’t try to bribe your dog into behaving. Never reward them with praises and treats if they’re trying to escape.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
There’s no shame in asking for help. Dogs can be a handful, especially if you have a large breed. If you don’t have anyone around, consider taking your dog to a professional grooming service instead. Doing so will put your mind to rest since they’ll be in good hands.
Groomers are a friendly bunch, so they’ll be more than happy to teach you some basic restraining and grooming methods. This way, you can groom your dog yourself with confidence next time.
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The 3 Methods of Restraining Your Dog
Proper restraint is essential for reducing your dog’s stress, allowing you to safely groom them. There are three types of restraints: the standard hold, the lateral restraint, and the overhead restraint.
Let’s start with the standard hold. This type of restraint is used for all dogs, regardless of size. This technique takes two people to groom your dog. One is responsible for restraining the dog, and the other holds the brush.
Here’s how you do it:
Step 1: Ask your dog to sit.
Step 2: Lightly wrap an arm around your dog’s neck. Be careful not to put pressure. A slight movement needs to be allowed, just enough for your dog to look around their environment while being groomed.
Step 3: Wrap your other arm around their armpit, right in front of their hips. Make sure that your dog is pressed against you.
If your dog is a small breed, you can position them in your lap to make it easier to clean. If they’re a larger breed, it’s better for you to do this on either a grooming table or the ground.
Make sure to occasionally rub your dog’s belly to calm them down while being groomed.
The second technique also requires two people. This hold is mainly used for restless or squirmy dogs.
Step 1: Gently lay your dog on their side, with their back facing you.
Step 2: Using the arm closest to their head, place it over their neck without putting pressure, and grab your dog’s paws. Making sure your hand holds both left and right.
Step 3: Position your other arm on top of your dog’s back near their belly and grasp their bottom legs.
If your dog struggles, this hold easily allows you to keep their head and legs still with your arms and elbow.
This technique is great if you’re alone and looking to groom your dog by yourself.
Step 1: Place your dog onto a grooming table.
Step 2: Wrap your first noose around your dog’s neck, and the other around their waist. Secure the noose to your grooming table above your pet.
Your goal here is to prevent your dog from sitting down once it’s hooked up. This will make it easier to groom your dog and have full access to their body.
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How To Keep A Dog Calm While Grooming
As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to be aware of all the important grooming practices at home. Follow these do’s and don’ts to ensure your dog’s safety while they’re being pampered.
What to Do
- Be patient.
- Evaluate the environment from your dog’s perspective.
- Choose a well-lit place for grooming.
- Don’t be afraid to use supplements/sedatives if needed, but only if prescribed by a vet.
- Make sure to use the proper equipment.
- Seek professional help/advice.
- Stick to a regular grooming schedule.
What Not to Do
- Don’t bathe your dog too often.
- Don’t cut your dog’s nails too short.
- Don’t overwhelm your dog by doing multiple things at once.
- Don’t use human products.
- Don’t clip or shave your dog without proper training.
- Don’t wash the insides of your dog’s ears.
- Don’t immediately brush your pet’s hair after a bath as this causes them to shed more.
A clean dog is a happy dog. Your dog may not like it, but regular grooming is an important part of pet care.
Aggressive dogs can certainly be a challenge to restrain. But with the proper tools, training, and knowledge, you’ll be able to counteract these tendencies and make every session an enjoyable one!
Be safe, be patient, be smart.