My dog won’t let me brush him. How can I groom him without taking him to a groomer?
Many dogs do not like to be brushed or groomed when first introduced to the process. Some dogs interpret brushing as an invitation to play. It is not unusual for puppies to bite at the brush or your hand when you try to brush them, unless they have become comfortable being groomed.
To successfully teach your dog to like being groomed, you need patience and time. Begin with short grooming sessions in a room with no distractions. Use a toy to distract the dog or treats to keep his mind on something besides the brush.
A soft brush used gently should be your first grooming tool. Once the dog is comfortable with this, you can use a comb or stiffer brush as needed. In the beginning, have the dog lie down and gently touch him with one hand and the brush while using the other hand to hold a toy or treat. Keep the tone of your voice soft but firm. Be sure to hold each foot of the dog even if it is for just a few seconds. You want the dog to get accustomed to being touched and handled all over his body. It is important that these sessions be kept short and positive. Tell the dog that you are going to brush him before you start and give lots of praise when he allows it, even for a minute. The more often you can work with the dog, the quicker you will make progress.
Gradually increase the length of the grooming sessions. If you have a dog that requires considerable grooming, such as a long-coated breed, you may want to invest in a grooming table with a noose for the dog's head. This will bring the dog up to a comfortable level for you and will help keep the dog in one place while you work on his coat.
For sessions on a table, begin by placing the dog on the table and talking softly to him. Offer a treat, give praise when he relaxes, and then take him off the table without any grooming. Over time, you can increase the length of time on the table and begin to add short grooming sessions. Never leave the dog unattended on a grooming table.
With a little time and effort, you should be able to groom your dog successfully. If your dog previously had a bad experience with grooming, it may take longer for the dog to trust you and learn to like being groomed.
If your dog has a long coat or one that tangles and mats easily, the key to good grooming is to do it often. Always brush or comb out the entire coat before bathing, and try not to bathe a dog with a heavy coat that is shedding profusely. It will lead to many more tangles and mats. A dematting tool and conditioner can help with untangling mats. If this fails, carefully cut out the mat. Be sure to reward the dog with a special treat or activity that he likes after grooming.