aggressive when grooming

Posted by Trixie
Aug 31, 2009
well, we used to take our shitzu to the groomers to get shaved, but a while back, she moved while getting shaved, and got scratched by the shaver. It was only a tiny scratch, never bled. But She is very, very sensitive, and now wont ever tolerate going back to any groomer.. If we do put her in the groomers, she gets aggressive, and the only way they can groom her, is if they have to put her to sleep. I dont want to keep doing that to her because its just going to get her more traumatized.

So, I groom her at home. At first she was very scared, and tried to bite when I bathed her, but now shes fine, as long as your calm when you give her a bath.

Now that I got past that point, I need help with the mats that developed on her fur. some are not that tangled, and will come off with a stroke or two of the brush, but others are really tough. I use scissors to get them off... Is that advisable?

But anyways, shes okay with the ones on her back, but the ones on her belly are trouble... i guess shes really sensitive there. When you try to cut it with scissors, she yelps. then if you try again, she growls. if your brave enough to try again, thats when she lunges & tries to bite.

If you try and comb them out, she yelps in pain... i feel so sorry for her.

Im wondering if there is any other way you can cut mats, other than combing or scissors... are you allowed to use razors on her belly area? I'm think she'll tolerate that if I'm the one holding the razor....

and then theres the issue of her face... she constantly moves her face, and wont sit still when im trying to cut her face... does anyone have any advice on how to cut the hair on her face if she moves alot?

Posted by kjd
Aug 31, 2009
Hi Trixie,

I'm sorry to hear your girl is groomer-shy. Now that you have her used to your doing it, you might be able to find a groomer that will work with you and the dog. Meanwhile, if the choice is between mats on her belly and a shaved spot, go for the shaved spot. Those mats can cause real pain to the dog and they just get worse.

It's amazing what you've been able to do -- keep up the good work!
Posted by KOPsarah
Sep 8, 2009
Grooming can be very stressful for a dog especially if they are in pain or in an unusual and scary environment such as at the groomers or up on big tables or around the loud noises of equipment etc.

It may help to try something that can calm your dog a little (without sedating it) with fairly natural remedies. I would recommend trying ready-relief the herbal drop used to calm people and children if they are available in your area (ask your vet), or a DAP spray or plug in. DAP stands for dog appeasing pheromone and is a pheromone given off my nursing mother dogs which calms dogs.

Also try changing the grooming environment, set up somewhere level, safe and as low as possible for your dog to stand while grooming. Try and make it a bit of a game so it is not so overwhelming for your dog. Bring the scissors near it and if it is still and relaxed give it a treat and praise. If it is aggressive ignore it for a minute while keeping yourself out of harms way. As the dog gets used to scissors near it try to let the scissors touch its fur again praising and treating if it is calm. Continue in little steps until you can clip a little hair. If the dog become very agitated always go back a step. Don't push for too much at once, keep the sessions short and regular so the dog is used to scissors near it often. (If you would prefer to eventually go back to having your dog groomed at a professional premises ask them if they will let you bring your dog in regularly for short periods to do this desensitization). Always keep the sessions as fun as possible and if you see your dog is getting bored and restless come back to the grooming in a little while, you want to end each session on a positive note with good behavior and praise so don't let the dog get to the point where it is bored or anxious and end the session angrily.

Remember if at any time you feel you are unsafe you can still do this procedure but put a comfortable yet safe muzzle on the dog (you may need to get the dog used to the muzzle in a similar desensitization way first or the dog will associate the scary muzzle with the scary grooming and the problem will be increased). Alternatively you can get your dog a head collar, attach a leash to it and ask someone to hold the leash while you clip so that the dog cannot lunge or bite.

You can also try reducing the pain of grooming by doing it in little amounts regularly so mats do not progress as far. Also you can try to find a detangling spray, your groomers may know where to get some.

Finally if you are not practicing alpha dog training with your dog I would definitely recommend this. A dog that sees other humans as leaders will not bite in stressful situations although it may still wriggle or vocalize which are definitely preferable responses.

You have made some good progress already and I am sure you and your dog will soon enjoy a much more pleasant grooming experience. If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to ask.