Help! My dog won’t let me trim his face while grooming. This is a common cry for help from dog owners. Are you in the same boat and having difficulty calming a dog for grooming?
Needless to say, this can be a challenging task indeed. A nervous, agitated dog will tend to resist being restrained at all costs, particularly when clippers, scissors or brushes are involved. Let’s look at some tips on how to keep a dog’s head still so that you can trim, clip or brush with ease.
It definitely pays to have some tricks up your sleeve in order to keep your dog calm, particularly when it comes to clipping. In this article we will endeavour to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about how to settle a dog while grooming. To simplify things, let’s use the name “Toby” a male dog, as an example for every scenario.
Table of Contents
How to Prepare a Dog for Relaxed Grooming
First things first, I would let Toby explore the space or room in which you’re going to do his grooming. Usually, dogs are just scared of unfamiliar places and faces, so familiarising him with his surroundings can help.
If this doesn’t work to calm Toby down, try playing some music to relax him. There can be any manner of unexpected noises or sights that can cause stress, so try playing some music to lighten the mood.
Lastly, let him play for a while before grooming. If he’s happy, relaxed and enjoying the playful integration, there’s a greater chance that he’ll remain still during the session.
My Dog Won’t Let Me Trim Face Area
If Toby is wiggly, take him for a walk or do some exercise before even attempting to trim his face or any part of his body for that matter. This is a great way to reduce his energy. If you can tire him out beforehand, there is a greater chance that he will sit/lie still while you attempt to clip his hair.
How to Restrain a Dog to Keep Head Still While Clipping
Again, if it’s a new place, give Toby a few moments to get used to the surrounds as well as the tools you’re using.
Let him sniff the scissors or the clippers, whichever you are using.
If you can afford an assistant, or if there is a family member at home to help, you can have someone hold Toby to avoid excessive movements, in particular any jerking of the head.
Otherwise a good quality grooming restraint can help.
You can see in the video below how the groomer restrains a dog, in particular how to hold his head, while trimming around the face. She manages this little Havapoo (probaby a Havanese/Spaniel mix) so well.
Naturally if you are using clippers you want them to be relatively quiet. Let Toby get used to the sound. Low noise clippers are the ticket here.
While clipping, make sure to slow your actions so as not to startle Toby.
Take a break once in a while after every section.
Lastly, treat him with snacks or other rewards every now and then to maintain calmness. Positive reinforcement is the key here.
Try Chippin all-natural sustainable snacks
My Dog Won’t Sit Still for General Grooming
Groomers of course are well versed in managing fidgety, scared or even aggressive dogs. And most likely, different dogs require different tricks to distract them. But certainly, groomers usually have top quality tools and techniques that allow them to gently restrain a dog easily.
I’m sure many a groomer has used tried-and-true dog training techniques as well in order to encourage the right kind of behaviour in their clients.
View: Essential Skills for a Brilliant Family Dog
1. Use a Dog Harness
Restrain a Dog with a Harness While Trimming at Home
A well-designed harness or hammock can work wonders to restrain a dog so that you can trim around the head area.
The Haunch Holder is quite a popular solution to support a dog for clipping.
Some prefer to use a table arm with a loop noose as a grooming restraint.
Dog Harnesses to the Rescue
Let’s watch a groomer demonstrating how to restrain a dog that is relatively large below.
2. Distract Your Dog with Toys Before Grooming
How to Gently Restrain a Dog That Hates Being Brushed
Similarly, you should set up a comfortable area like a mat so that Toby can lie down. If it’s a new place, one that is unfamiliar to him, let him explore it from corner to corner so that you can induce a feeling of safety.
While he is wandering around, you can bring out some favourite toys to distract him.
A great idea is to use a fluffy toy that you can use to gently ‘brush’ across his back. Let him sniff the toy so that he realises you are touching his hair with his own favourite fluffy toy.
After you observe that Toby is quite comfortable with this new type of game, you can gradually start to replace the soft toy with an actual brush. But start with a soft bristle brush to avoid pulling on his hair to start with. And use your free hand to very gently restrain him in place.
Or even start with a pet grooming glove. He will feel the shape of your hand gently stroking his back just like when you pat him.
3. Employ this Brushing Technique to Keep Your Dog Calm
The Right Grooming Brush Makes All the Difference
Before starting with the grooming brush, let him chew on one of his toys if he is so inclined. It will keep him occupied and help to divert his attention away from what you are doing.
After that, slowly start brushing small sections if you are able to proceed without any biting attempts. Then take a short break to play with him. You don’t want him to get tired of ‘playing alone’ such that he notices what you are doing with the brush.
Popular Dog Grooming Brushes
Once he is fully involved with his toy again, you can resume brushing. Any time he attempts to snap or bite, take a break and begin the distraction process again.
Repeat until you have been able to brush his entire coat.
Start Early to Train Your Dog to Sit Still for Clipping
Of course, starting a grooming routine during the puppy stage is one of the better ways to make sure that you have a calm adult dog for clipping and brushing further down the track.
You might like to try some of the ideas in the 51 Puppy Tricks Book (affiliate link).
With This Knowledge …
There you have it, our answers to some of the common questions about how to gently restrain a dog while grooming. If you learned a useful trick today, then we couldn’t be happier.
Now that you know how to calmly keep a dog still with gentle restraint techniques, you are ready to start grooming your own pooch at home. In case you forget something, you can always review the guide.
Until next time, we wish you the best!