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How to Groom an Aggressive Dog

Grooming an aggressive dog can prove challenging. Today, our  Murfreesboro vets explain why some dogs become aggressive during grooming sessions and share tips to help make grooming less stressful for both you and your pup. 

Aggression in Dogs

Many dogs exhibit aggressive behavior that can quickly become problematic for their owners and families. While almost all wild animals are instinctively aggressive when guarding territory, defending themselves or protecting their young from predators, when people adopt animals as pets it's important to address aggressive behavior with training. 

Aggression may involve a range of behaviors that can lead to attacks and subsequent injuries (including dog bites when grooming). 

Signs of aggression in dogs include:

  • Remaining still and not obeying an owner's or carer's instructions 
  • Threatening growl or bark
  • Mouthing a person against his or her wishes in an effort to exert control 
  • A quick bite that leaves a mark, bruise or puncture in or on the skin 
  • Growling when the dog's wishes aren't followed 
  • Snarling (baring teeth when growling)
  • 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

Successfully keeping an aggressive dog calm during grooming requires extra caution, care and training to keep both your pup and the groomer safe (whether you choose to handle the task yourself or have our professional groomers at Brogli Lane Weaver & Alexander Animal Hospital handle the task). 

For numerous reasons, an aggressive dog may bite or display other aggressive behaviors during grooming sessions - whether they are feeling fearful, anxious, confused or have had previous bad experiences involving grooming. 

If your pooch has had previous bad experiences, they may be extremely defensive the next time they're in a grooming space. The dog might attempt to bite anyone who approaches or tries to touch them. 

How to Successfully Groom an Aggressive Dog 

Since your pup will need regular grooming, you'll need to train your dog to tolerate being groomed. Our professional groomers recommend building a trusting relationship with your dog and following these tips when it's time to bathe and groom your pooch. The less stress any pet endures, the more calm and cooperative they will be. 

Start grooming when your dog is young. 

Grooming your puppy from a young age (and perhaps taking them to a groomer) will save a lot of stress and anxiety in the future. Puppies enjoy experiencing new things and will be more open to learning and being socialized. This makes it easier to train them to accept regular grooming. While older dogs with bad prior experiences aren't typically impossible to groom, you will need to invest more patience and time in training

Use positive reinforcements. 

Just as positive reinforcement plays an important role in training, it can help with grooming. Offering your dog a treat before visiting the groomer (or before an at-home grooming session) might help them to stay calm. You might decide to give another treat for sitting patiently during their bath and grooming. 

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

Until your dog is completely comfortable with being groomed, keep sessions short and make an effort to introduce groomers, grooming equipment and new procedures, allowing your pup time to become familiar and comfortable with them. Let your pooch sniff the grooming area for a while before settling in, following up with praise and a reward. 

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

Use preventive measures in emergency situations. 

Some aggressive dogs may not calm down during grooming sessions despite your best efforts. However, they'll still need to be groomed. Some solutions may include special anxiety-reducing jackets (during nail trims), organic and all-natural medications or muzzles. Speak to your vet about which option(s) will be best for your dog, and consult your vet about any medications you're thinking of using before administering them to your pup. 

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 are able to 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 Brogli, Lane, Weaver & Alexander Animal Hospital, 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 people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms. 

Have questions about grooming an aggressive dog, or want to book a grooming session for your pup? Contact Brogli Lane Weaver & Alexander Animal Hospital today.

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