Why Is My Dog Scared of Hair Clippers?

A bad grooming experience can make dogs scared of tools such as hair clippers. Try these tips to make grooming fun, rewarding and enjoyable for your dog.

Grooming can mean bonding time between pet and owner. By: Mark

If your dog is scared of hair clippers, he’s not alone. Grooming, and especially the instruments used during the process, can intimidate many dogs. And it’s no small wonder, considering the dreadful noises of grooming tools.

Think about it: We often react the same way when we’re exposed to things that are unfamiliar to us. For instance, as a child, I would get totally unnerved (and still do) in the doctor’s office whenever the nurse brought various foreign instruments into the examining room.

Animals are like humans in that respect — we all have our comfort zones.

In some instances, a dog may have had a bad experience while being groomed in the past — clipper burns, pulled hair, etc. — making him shy away from anything associated with that memory.

Patience Is a Virtue (And Your Dog Thanks You for It)

Patience is important when grooming pets that are afraid of hair clippers. It will take some time for them to get comfortable with the whole process. Making your dog’s grooming time more enjoyable begins with showing him that this can be a fun time.

For starters, familiarize your pet with your touch on the sensitive areas of his body, such as his feet. Allow him to become familiar with the grooming tools you will be using. After he has “sniffed out” the tools a few times, begin petting or brushing him with them.

After a few days (in some cases, a few weeks) of practicing these measures, embark on actual grooming sessions together. Make the sessions short at first, and immediately afterward, reward him with a treat for his good behavior. Eventually, he will associate grooming with tasty treats and become an eager participant.

Begin grooming your pet while he is still in the puppy stage, if possible; this way, when he reaches adulthood, he will be used to all the tools and noises involved with his grooming. Grooming an older dog that you haven’t raised will take more patience and, possibly, extra training.

Protect Your Dog and Yourself

If you use restraints while grooming, always keep your dog company. By: Mark

If you find that no matter what you try, your dog is still not receptive to grooming, you might consider restraining him.

This should only be done when all else has failed, and your pooch should never be left alone while restrained. If he tries to break free, he could injure himself.

To prevent your dog from biting you as you are clipping his hair, a muzzle may be the best option. But understand that muzzling will not make your pet more accommodating to the grooming ritual. In fact, it may make him less willing to be a “good boy” the next time around.

If you’re using a muzzle, make sure it fits well, and don’t leave it on for long periods of time.

Patience, love and treats — those are the three basics for a happy grooming experience. Remain calm toward your pet, show him love and don’t forget his rewards.

Once he gets in the groove with your grooming techniques, the two of you can enjoy this time together.

Gayle Hickman

View posts by Gayle Hickman
Gayle Hickman has been researching and writing about pet behaviors since 2011. In addition to Petful, her articles have appeared on Reader's Digest, Yahoo Shine and WebVet, to name a few.

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