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Grooming & Anxiety in Dogs: What to Do & How to Help

Grooming & Anxiety in Dogs: What to Do & How to Help

If your dog is anxious or fidgety during bath time, it can make grooming at home a hassle. Here, our White Hall vets share some tips for keeping your dog calm during grooming.

Grooming Difficult Dogs

Maintaining your dog's hygiene is essential to their overall health. Ear, coat and skin cleanliness can help your dog regulate their health and limit risk of infections.

From bathing to brushing, ear cleaning to nail trimming, grooming can quickly become a nightmare if your dog is nervous or anxious about the grooming process. 

How to Keep a Dog Calm for Grooming

Begin Grooming Young

Whether you groom your dog at home or take them to a professional groomer, it's best to start grooming them when they're young. This will desensitize your dog to the sensation and get them used to a routine.

  • Professional Groomers. If you have a fearful or anxious puppy, professional groomers are trained in a variety of methods to help put your dog at ease. Taking your puppy to the groomer while they are young will help to teach your dog that visiting the groomer is a normal and enjoyable day out.
  • At-Home Grooming. Starting at-home grooming when your puppy is young is a great way for both of you to feel relaxed and at ease with the grooming process. Beginning grooming when your puppy is small and manageable will also help you gain confidence.

Stay Calm

Your dog can sense when you are stressed out. If you stay calm and soothing, they will pick up on that! Here are a couple of ways to keep your dog calm, whether you groom them at home or with a professional:

  • Professional Groomer: Consider walking your dog to the groomer if possible. A walk is an excellent way to burn off nervous energy and help your dog arrive at the groomer's feeling calm and confident.
  • At-Home Grooming: Have all the grooming tools ready before bringing your dog into the room. Being prepared will help you to remain calm throughout the grooming process. Speak to your dog calmly and let your dog safely sniff and explore tools such as brushes and clippers. Wait until your dog is calm before beginning grooming, and have treats handy to reward good behavior. 


Vigorous exercise is one of the best ways to calm a dog down before grooming. Long walks, running, chasing a ball, or playing with other dogs at the dog park are all excellent ways to sedate your dog without using medication. Grooming will become a relaxed and simple process once your dog has expended all of their energy.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is an effective way to train your dog to stay calm and relaxed during grooming. Offering treats and praise when your dog sits still to be brushed or lets you clip a nail will teach your dog good grooming manners. Take it slow, even if that means only clipping one nail at each attempt, stay calm, positive and patient.


Dogs enjoy being petted and patted, and grooming time is no exception. Patting and holding your nervous dog during the grooming process can help reassure him that everything is fine and that he has nothing to be afraid of.


A variety of scents are known to have calming effects on dogs, just as they do on humans. Rub some lavender essential oil onto your fingertips and then run your fingers through your dog's fur to help calm him down while grooming. The relaxing scent of lavender, combined with the calming effect of touch, may help to relax your dog.

Dog Appeasing Pheromones

If your canine friend is nervous or anxious in spite of your efforts to keep grooming calm you may want to try using a synthetic pheromone diffuser. Pheromones are chemical compounds that transmit signals between animals. Scientists have isolated the compound that transmits a sense of calming relaxation to dogs and have created a range of products that can help to keep pets calm during grooming. 

A synthetic pheromone diffuser fills your space with an odorless, non-sedative synthetic hormone that can help dogs relax but has no effect on humans or other animals. Speak with your veterinarian for more information on using a synthetic pheromone diffuser to help calm your dog during grooming.

Medication to Calm Dogs for Grooming

In some extreme cases of anxiety in dogs, sedation may be recommended by your vet to make the grooming process easier.

While there are several effective anti-anxiety and sedation medications for dogs, not all sedation medications work for all dogs. Your veterinarian may prescribe diazepam, acepromazine, gabapentin, or fluoxetine as sedatives for your dog.

Never give sedation medications to your dog without first consulting your veterinarian.

Is your dog very nervous and squirmy when they're groomed? Contact your White Hall vets at Hunter's Animal Hospital today for potential solutions or to book a grooming appointment.

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