Why Is Dog Grooming With Clippers Scary for a Dog? 3 Ways To Reduce Your Dog’s Fear

June 10, 2022 // 11 minute read

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Dog grooming, in general, is a stressful part of the day for your furry friends. And for our long-haired or heavy-coated dogs, dog grooming with clippers is another separate story. 

As dog parents, you want to make sure that your dog is comfortable in every grooming session. However, what do you do when he gets too stressed out that it might turn to aggression? Why is dog grooming with clippers scary for a dog?

In this article, we’ll be sharing a few tips on how you can handle your dog if they’re afraid of the grooming clippers. But, before we go there, let us first understand why dog grooming with clippers is scary for a dog.

dog with bib being groomed in wooden chair
Photo by Thamkc on DepositPhotos.com

Reasons Your Dog Gets Scared of Clippers

For me, there are two significant reasons why your dog gets scared of clippers, and this mostly involves the clippers themselves.  

1. Dog Grooming Clippers Makes Them Uncomfortable

A dog grooming clipper can be very noisy, especially if you choose a powerful one. Your dog will feel the vibration as it goes closer to their skin, which will make your dog too uncomfortable as this is a sensation they are not usually exposed to.

Because of this, they may think that the clipper will hurt them. So, seeing it for the first time might trigger a negative response from your pets, which is normal. It’s not part of their daily routine.

If you read our guide on choosing a dog grooming clipper, you must choose a clipper that your dog is comfortable with. You can choose a less powerful clipper that produces less noise if it helps. However, this might not work if your dog has a thick coat. 

2. You’re Scared Too

You might have heard about it before: how dogs, or pets in general, can sense what you’re feeling. If you’re scared and not confident that you can do well in clipping them, your dog may sense this causing them to back away. Your dog will be scared and unsure if they can’t trust you.

Related article: How To Use Dog Grooming Clippers

Need To Groom Your Dog But Don’t Know How to Use Clippers?

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How To Know Your Dog Is Afraid

A stressed dog might bite, something that you don’t want to happen. This is why it’s essential to know when your dog is afraid so you can adjust your actions accordingly. This way, when you see the signs, you can switch whatever you’re doing to something that your dog might be more comfortable with. A few signs of fear and stress to watch are: 

  • Panting
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Ears Pulled Back
  • Tail Tucking
  • Yawning
  • Crouching
  • Lying Down
  • Whining
  • Barking
  • Moving Away
  • Shaking
  • Growling

Tips To Handling a Scared Dog When Grooming

Introduce The Clippers To The Dog

If it’s your dog’s first grooming session, chances are it’s also their first time seeing a dog-grooming clipper. The noise and vibrations will likely already cause them stress, and seeing the clippers, a foreign object, will put your dog even more on edge.

This object is something new to them, and it makes them uncomfortable, which is why the introduction of the dog grooming clipper and any other tools you’re using is essential. 

Start by laying down everything you’re about to use flat on the floor, away from your dog. Let them get familiarized with each of the tools. Let your dog sniff it and touch it as long as they please. Give them rewards and treats, too, for an excellent job. 

If your dog doesn’t seem interested, don’t force it onto them, which might cause anxiety. Let your pup move at their own pace and continue doing this until your dog is familiar with the object. 

Slowly Get The Dog Familiarized with the Clipper

Once you feel that your dog is more comfortable with the tools now that they are a little more used to them, it’s time to take it to the next level. After getting them used to looking at and smelling the clipper, the next thing you need to do is get them familiar with the touch and sound. 

Start by holding the clipper and place it on their body, letting them feel how you’re going to use it. If you feel them stiffen, stop and wait for them to relax. As soon as they do, give them a reward and praise. 

Then, try to turn on the clipper, but make sure to stand away from your dog first. Let your dog come closer so they can explore the sound. If they don’t, be the judge if you think you can take the clipper closer to your dog without scaring them. 

You’ll slowly see your dog becoming more comfortable. But, if they don’t, stop and just repeat it the next day. Again, don’t rush and never force them to get used to the clippers immediately. 

close up of a groomer using clippers on a dog's body
Photo by hurricanehank on DepositPhotos.com

Continue To Talk To your Dog

Talking to your dog will help ease their anxiety. Let them know that it’s going to be fine and that the clipper is safe. Let them know that it will make them cleaner and healthier. This way, your dog will understand that you won’t do anything to hurt them. 

Give Your Dog A Break

If your dog seems to be adjusting well to the grooming session, give them a break when they need to. Give them time to shake off, scratch their body, reach something, etc. This is probably their way to cope with stressful situations.

Distract Your Dog 

If your dog is still scared, a little distraction will help. Try to open a window where they can watch what’s going on outside or play relaxing music. Let them focus on other senses instead of the fear that the clippers give them. 

Check If The Dog Is Finally Relaxed

Finally, before starting to groom, double-check if your dog is relaxed. Try to command them something, and if they obey, this means that they’re finally able to keep their mind off the fear and anxiety. A dog who ignores your request may naturally be still scared of you, and it will not be a great idea to start grooming yet. 

Related article: The Importance of Dog Grooming & Canine Skin Care: 5 Grooming Tips

Why Is Dog Grooming With Clippers Scary For A Dog? Ways To Reduce Fear In Your Dog

Knowing how to handle a scared dog is great, but we believe that prevention is even better. So if you can reduce your dog’s fear of grooming clippers in general, then both of you will be safer. 

We have gathered a few ways most experienced dog owners use to help their furry friends adjust to the grooming.

small black dog getting groomed at home with clippers
Photo by Koldunova_Anna on DepositPhotos.com

Start Grooming Early

Grooming your dog at an early age is probably the most common advice given. This will likely make grooming with clippers less scary for your dog. This is so they’ll be able to get used to the routine and comfortably adjust to it. You can introduce them slowly to the tools you use, to the sounds, vibrations, and more. 

By the time they get older and mature, your dog will already understand what’s happening. You will also be able to understand what your dog likes and dislikes. This understanding and trust will just continue to grow as time goes by. It will reduce your dog’s fear, thus making grooming easier and smoother. 

Get Your Dog Used To Being Handled

Dog grooming involves lots of touching and usually in your dog’s sensitive areas – muzzle, eyes, ears, paws, tail, rear, and groin. So, you must get your dog used to being touched here. 

If you have a touch-sensitive dog, you need to touch them first in a less sensitive area and gradually move to the sensitive ones. You can also use cue words such as “ear” or “paw” to let them know which part you will touch. Reward your dog immediately with a treat if they open up. You also have to make sure they’re calm and relaxed before moving to other sensitive areas. 

Try to do this daily instead of just during grooming sessions until they get used to it. Let other family members do it too, so your dog gets accustomed to other people if you end up taking them to a professional groomer. 

Identify Your Dog’s Triggers

Try to understand what makes your dog stressed out and solve the problem from there. Is it really because of the dog grooming clippers or does it have something to do with the process? 

If it’s because of the vibrations and the noise of the clippers you’re using, then try to find an alternative. If it’s because of the height of the table you use, maybe try to settle them on the floor where they can become comfortable. 

You should also consider the other processes you do before you start clipping their coats. If you’re bathing your dog before the clipping session, make sure the floor is not slippery. If your dog is not comfortable prior to the clipping, then this might be the reason why they are stressed out. 

Keep Sessions Short At First

If it’s your dog’s first grooming session, it’s highly recommended to keep it short at first and gradually increase the time when they get more comfortable. Sometimes, it’s your dog who will let you know if they have had enough. Make sure to give your pup treats as a reward for cooperating. 

Ask For Help From A Friend or Professional

Asking for help from more experienced friends or a professional groomer is the best way to go, especially if it’s your first time grooming your dog. This way, you’re learning from someone more knowledgeable, and you can get tips and pointers from them. You can also ask your veterinarian for advice on how you can make your dog more comfortable and relaxed. 

Never Punish A Dog When They Growl

When your dog growls, it means that they are scared. It’s like a warning that they are stressed, and don’t like what’s happening. So, don’t punish them for this. If your dog gets punished, they will learn that they shouldn’t growl. However, the punishment won’t do anything to reduce the fear they have of the clippers and the grooming process in general.

Even when they are quiet, a dog can still be scared, which is why they’ll sometimes bite without warning. When your dog is growling, find ways to make them relaxed instead of punishing them. And make sure to give them treats when they oblige as a reward. 

Why Is Restraining Not A Good Option

When the methods above don’t work immediately, some owners immediately put restraints on the dog, such as holding them, tying them up, and more. But as mentioned above, this won’t work because it will never remove the fear that your dog has of the clippers. 

There are three ways dogs usually react when they are scared of grooming: freezing, fighting back, and fleeing. However, if you remove their third option, they will only resort to staying in place while scared, and you won’t even know when they’ll bite and fight back. Immediately, they come to think that they won’t be able to trust you because you’re forcing something on them that you know they’re scared about. 

Don’t restrain your dog and let them leave the table if they want, but don’t let them leave the room. Try to calm them down and start grooming only when they’re ready. Patience is really needed here until both of you get used to the whole process. 

Try to ask your vet for some calming aids for your dogs too. This is actually a better option than tying your dog up. But then again, going to your vet and asking for some tips is always a great idea. 

Conclusion

Anything new will always be scary. Even people get scared to try new things, so you must learn to understand what your little furry friend is going through. By following the tips above, you’ll be grooming your dog more smoothly soon. 

Again, take everything slowly. Patience is very important here. You can’t just stop grooming your dog because they don’t behave. If you aren’t patient and don’t groom your dog, the chance of skin infections and other problems increases, costing you more in the long run.

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