How to Groom a Dog That Bites
Do you fear that task of grooming a dog that bites?
Almost every dog owner has had a dog he/she was unable to groom. Or a difficult dog that groomers wouldn’t accept…
Many times the difficulty of grooming a dog boils down to one reason…
The dog has had a bad experience. Its toenail was cut too short causing bleeding; the comb or brush was hurting the dog’s sensitive skin or simply because it “hated” a bath.
Let me ask you:
Are you in one of the following situation?
- you are a dog owner and your professional groomer tells you to go somewhere else with your dog (i.e. your dog bites during grooming)
- you are a dog owner and your dog bites you when you perform a certain grooming procedure (like brushing, clipping etc.). But other times, your dog is an angel.
- you are a dog groomer and you are facing some very difficult dogs just hours/days ago, and you are looking for advice on what to do should you come across another
If your answer is “Yes” to at least one of the question, you are at the right place!
The idea is to train your canine friend to get acclimated to what you typically do when you groom him/her like placing him/her on a grooming table or softly handling the feet and mouth. The same ideas can be applied to train your dog to accept your groomers.
If you want to groom a difficult dog successfully, you need to get familiar with all the procedures that go into the task.
Keep in mind that dogs must be trained for good grooming manners so they’re used to be cleaned or maybe even enjoy the grooming process. And, remember, when you’re grooming your dog, he/she is getting attention and time with you.
Determining the Cause for Bite
When it comes to how to groom a dog that bites, the first thing you want to do is to determine the cause of your dog biting. When a dog shows displeasure the animal will growl or snarl. But dogs bite for several reasons during the grooming process.
Dogs will bite out of self-defense (in this case the person is causing harm to them) or if they are in pain. This is the natural wolf instinct in the dog. When grooming the dog you need to be aware that even the most docile dog has the potential to bite.
A dog that has medical conditions such as hip dysplasia or arthritis may bite when the pain is pushed beyond their threshold during the grooming process.
If your dog bites, have your dog checked to determine if it has one of these medical conditions, which might be causing the biting problem.
Dogs can be fearful of the grooming procedure and equipment.
Imagine if you knew nothing about these procedures and tools, what would your reaction be when you saw these sharp clanking metals gathered beside you for the first time? Run!!
And in some cases, the dog may have had a bad experience with grooming..
Perhaps he had been mistreated before during grooming, perhaps he suffered from those clipper burns and he had associated this unwanted experience with clipping. Out of fear and without an outlet for escape, there is a chance the dog will bite in self-defense.
How To Successfully Groom A Dog Using Positive Reinforcements
If you want to groom a dog, you should begin when your dog is still a pup. The reason is that puppies enjoy experiencing new things, which allows you time to get them acclimated to the grooming process.
Having said that, this doesn’t mean you can’t groom an older dog that’s had a bad experience. After all, you can always retrain him/her to enjoy it. It just means it’ll take some additional time and a little more training.
Positive reinforcements are the best dog grooming training method available and it works for the majority of situations. When you using the positive reinforcement method, what you’re doing is rewarding their good behavior and ignoring the bad ones.
For instance: your dog gets up on the grooming table, give him/her a treat and some praise. If the dog fails to get on the table, no treats and no praise are to be given. Of course, you don’t want to punish your canine friend either.
What you’re looking to do is reward them enough that the dog will do it every time on his/her own.
Of course, you’ll need to do some experimentation on what treats are good for your pup and how much – sometimes one treat isn’t enough.
When you hand treats to your dog, be sure they’re small. If you give your dog too many big treats, it can cause them to gain weight and get fat. If you have big treats, consider splitting them up into two or three pieces.
There are some dogs that don’t like treats as a reward. If you find your dog is not food-driven, you can try using a toy or activity that he/she likes for the reward.
Train Your Dog To Enjoy The Grooming Experience
What must you do to ensure your dog has good grooming manners? You need to make the whole grooming experience enjoyable. If you don’t, your dog won’t want to partake or will begrudgingly partaking in the experience.
Obviously, they won’t understand about dog brushes, combs, dog nail clippers, shampoos and anything else that pertains to grooming.
However, you can reduce the fearful feelings he/she has by getting them comfortable with all of it and giving them rewards and praise when they act or respond in a positive way.
Begin by spending up to 10 minutes every day training your dog on how to handle the grooming issues. If you notice your dog is unhappy or scared with the grooming process, you need to make it as short as humanly possible for his/her benefit… at least in the beginning.
Provide treats so that the attention is diverted away from the grooming tools. Once you’re done grooming, end the activity with something fun for them such as fetch or tug.
When you groom a dog, you need to make sure that the sessions are not too long for their comfort.
If you notice your dog is reacting negatively to the grooming, allow them to nibble on a treat. When he/she is distracted, softly brush his/her coat. And, when he reacts in a positive manner, give them praise and the rest of the treat. The idea is to work up to longer brushing sessions.
With the help of the above dog grooming training tips, you and your canine friend can feel comfortable with the whole process, from start to finish.
Just remember to begin things slowly and to back off slightly if you notice any uncomfortable feelings coming from your canine friend. You can make the experience enjoyable; it’s just going to take time to do.
In the subsequent section, I’ll show you exactly how to correct your dog’s bad grooming behavior in 6 simple steps below.
How to Groom a Dog That Bites – What You Can Do About It?
Preparing your dog for grooming is therefore important for your safety, in a sense. If your dog has a painful ailment, get to the bottom of it to remove the cause for pain. When you decide to groom your dog, start the sessions short and make it fun for your dog.
The most important thing is to make grooming a pleasurable experience for your dog. This will help eliminate fear and let the dog associate grooming as a pleasant activity.
To do that, you would need to make sure that your dog gets accustomed to you touching his sensitive areas (such as their feet – most dogs don’t like their feet touched) as well as to the grooming tools that you will be using.
And here’s how… step-by-step.
Getting Your Dog Comfortable With the Grooming Equipment and Procedures
You can help to eliminate or minimize your dog’s uneasiness or fear of a grooming equipment/procedures through the steps below.
Once your dog understands that the equipment are harmless and the procedures can be enjoyable, your dog will let you groom him and grooming will become easier for you.
To get your dog desensitized with the grooming equipment and procedures, start with short but frequent sessions by doing the following:
- Find a time when your dog is a little tired or a little hungry.
- Take your dog to an area where there won’t be a lot of distractions. If you have a grooming room, take your dog there, but make sure that the room is quiet so he is not distracted.
- Get your dog familiar with each piece of equipment by showing it to her one at a time slowly. Show your dog the brush, let him sniff it for a few seconds and then give him a small treat.
- Next, gently touch your dog with the brush and the treat. Once he has fully accepted the object, gently brush one stroke and immediately follow with a treat. Repeat this about three more times until she realizes that being brushed is a great feeling.
- The same procedure goes (Step 3 and 4) for the nail clipper, toothbrush, and other grooming tools. Work on the areas of your dog that equipment is designed for. Remember: Take the time to introduce them to your dog. Break down the procedure into small steps as this will give your dog the chance to create a positive experience within each step.
If your dog is uncomfortable with you touching a certain area when you are grooming him with that equipment, stop and don’t push it. Your dog may be feeling sensitive and nervous about it.
Move on to another area of his body that he’s comfortable with you touching, or move on to the next equipment. As your dog relaxes, go back and gently try touching the sensitive areas again. If your dog is still uncomfortable about this, try giving him some treat to distract him.
- Keep each session short (about 1 -2 mins) and do this often by interspersing the sessions throughout the day. You can progressively increase the length of each session as your dog starts to get used to the grooming equipment and procedures. Do not lengthen the session beyond his comfort level.
As the session progresses, your dog will get more and more used to your touch, grooming equipment and procedures. Work up the length of your grooming sessions slowly to a full-blown session length. This will take time.
Remember, patience is the key!
Preventive Measures When Grooming An Aggressive Dog
You may have tried to make your dog to stop biting even after training the dog during a grooming procedure.
Or you may find that it’s going to take more time to remove the fears of grooming from your dog. But you need to have grooming done now because the dog has just dropped into a mud pit and needs a bath.
And the animal is struggling….
There are a couple of “emergency” options to tackle the problem. You could muzzle the dog or medicate the animal – but we think that these options aren’t satisfactory solutions. They should only be done in extreme cases because you can endanger the health of your dog if they aren’t done properly.
Use a Muzzle For Dogs
The dog muzzle will slip over the nose and mouth of your dog and prevents the animal from biting.
If you know that a grooming procedure tends to make your dog snap then the muzzle is an ideal solution. Combing the dogs coat or trimming toenails are two common grooming procedures that can cause a dog to bite. Pulling and tugging can cause pain to your dog.
On the market are several different types of dog muzzles. There are nylon strap muzzles which are simple. These slip around the nose of your dog. Muzzles can be padded so your dog doesn’t have any discomfort when wearing the muzzle.
Other muzzles allow your dog to drink and eat while wearing the device. You must be sure that whatever muzzle that you use is suitable for the size of your dog’s head so the animal has room to breathe while wearing the muzzle.
If you use a muzzle, you can put it on the dog shortly before the grooming procedure is to begin. Once the procedure is over, you should take the muzzle off immediately.
Only use the muzzle when it’s needed to avoid a bite. Use the muzzle as little as possible when grooming the dog.
The muzzle won’t make the dog more cooperative during the grooming so you can’t rely on it to calm the dog down. The dog might become more difficult the next time because the animal knows that restraint will be used.
Once you take the muzzle off provide praise and treats for the dog so the animal feels at ease.
You should not leave the dog alone when you use a muzzle. This is important in hot weather because the dog needs to pant to stay cool to avoid overheating. In some cases the dog may try to remove the muzzle and could get injured if the muzzle is caught on something sharp.
Try to keep the muzzle on for just a few minutes and avoid having it on for long periods. If you use the muzzle too much the dog may become aggressive as he is restrained and learns not to like the muzzle.
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Medication of any kind is not recommended for restraining a dog.
If you must use it be sure to speak to a veterinarian to learn about side effects of the drugs. Dogs are usually calmed with the drugs cloricalm and acepromazine.
Some medications can have adverse side effects for the animal. Try to use naturally essences one good one is “Calm Down.” Your local veterinarian can provide you with information on medication alternatives.
To sum it up, none of these 2 methods beat preparing and training your dog for grooming.
For the daring…
And finally, if you are experienced enough (then you probably won’t need this article) :), check out how a groomer groomed an aggressive dog in the video below:
Apart from learning how to deal with a dog that bites during grooming, you’ll also need to discover the proper methods to grooming your dog, this can be found in a comprehensive eBook I’ve created for you to tackle your question on “How to Groom a Dog”. Check it out
Disclosure: Please kindly note that the above muzzle links is an affiliate link (Petsmart.com) and dog-grooming-training.com will earn a commission when you purchase via the link (at no additional cost to you). We recommend readers to do their independent research prior to purchasing any products or services. This article here is not an endorsement, recommendation or usage guideline of the specific product.