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How to Restrain a Dog While Grooming

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Are you 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 or brushes are involved. So, you need to have some tricks up your sleeve in order to keep your dog calm, particularly when it comes to clipping. So in this article we will cover some pointers on how to gently restrain a dog so that you can get the grooming job done.

In this brief guide, we’ll answer some of the most asked questions on how to restrain a dog while grooming. To simplify things, let’s use the name “Roby,” a male dog, as an example for every scenario.

Table of Contents

How to Keep a Dog Still for Relaxed Grooming

First things first, let Roby 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 Roby down, try playing some music to relax him. Many things may 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 stay still during the session.

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3 Tricks to Keep a Dog Still While 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 restrain a dog

I’m sure many a groomer has used tried-and-true dog training techniques as well to encourage the right kind of behaviour in their clients.

1. Use a Dog Harness

How to Restrain a Dog While Grooming at Home with a Harness

A well-designed harness can work wonders to restrain a dog on the grooming table as well:

The Haunch Holder is quite a popular solution to restrain a dog for clipping.

Some like to use a table arm with a loop noose as a grooming restraint:

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Let’s watch a groomer demonstrating how to restrain a dog that is relatively large below.

2. Distract with Toys

How to Gently Restrain a Dog That Hates Being Brushed

Similarly, you should set up a comfortable area like a mat so that Roby 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.

Photo by Abbie Love on Unsplash

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 Roby 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

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.

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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.

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).

My Dog Won’t Let Me Trim Face Area

If Roby 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 Grooming

Again, if it’s a new place, give Roby 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 Roby 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 what the groomer does to restrain a dog, in particular a puppy, while trimming around the face.

Naturally if you are using clippers you want them to be relatively quiet. Let Roby 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 Roby.

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.

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How to Give a Scared Dog a Bath

So how DO you give a dog a bath, one that is scared of water?

Place a rag or cloth in the tub. Make it damp with just a little water. Prepare Roby and let him stand on the damp cloth. Once he is calm, make your hand wet and splash a few droplets on his feet in a playful manner. Try to convince him that you are in fact playing. Also, you can gently sprinkle Roby’s head with water using a sprayer. It will introduce the feeling of getting wet. Again, turn it into a game.

Besides, you can fill the tub with toys so Roby will find more interest in the water without him knowing what you are really up to. After following these small steps, try adding more water to see his reaction. If it’s the same, then repeat the steps above. However, if he shows progress, then you can continue the bath. Gradually increase the water level each time; slowly so as to prevent triggering his fear.

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How to Give a Dog a Bath Without Water

If you think there’s no hope at the moment to bath Roby with water, you can try some alternatives. The following are some of the waterless ways to do so:

  • Shampoo. You can use a dry shampoo as a bath for Roby. It has no water or other liquid, so there’s no need to calm him down.
  • Baking Soda. Baking soda can serve to eliminate bad odors and provides a fresh smell for Roby’s fur.
  • Wet Wipes. Wet Wipes for dogs can be an ideal cleaning solution. It’s damp but doesn’t involve a tub of water that can scare Roby off.
  • Sprayer and Brush. Mix a dog soap solution and put it into a sprayer. Spray Roby’s fur gently and brush them accordingly. Small water droplets are less likely to scare him, so it’s definitely worth a shot.

With This Knowledge …

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.

There you have it, our answers to some of the common questions about calming a dog for grooming. If you learned a useful trick today, then we couldn’t be happier. In case you forget something, you can always review the guide.

Until next time, we wish you the best!



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