Are your dog grooming sessions more like a battle of wills? You, the responsible pet owner, have brush in hand ready to work the gnarly tangles out of her coat. Meanwhile, your dog stands defiant and would just assume to bite your face off than endure a grooming session? What to do if your dog hates to be brushed …
Before you throw in the brush (see what we did there?), there are a few things you can do to ensure your dog’s grooming sessions don’t play out like an epic fight scene from the big screen. You can take her to the groomer’s and let someone else handle it, or you can take a few steps and groom your dog yourself, which is the perfect opportunity to save money and build a stronger bond between you both.
Here’s how you can win the brush battle.
Dog Snaps When Brushed? Be Patient
If your dog snaps or bites when you brush her, you have to let her know immediately that this is a no-no. Be patient. You never know what triggered the aggression. It could be that she had a bad grooming experience before she came to live with you.
As with everything else about caring for dogs, to successfully teach your dog to like or at least tolerate brushing her coat requires patience and time. Taking the process one step at a time will teach her some self-control and reassure her that the brush is not something to fear.
- Don’t yell at her. Walk away, take a few deep breaths and try again when you both are calm.
- Let her sniff the brush. Offer a distraction, such as a treat or toy or treat-toy combination.
- Give her short breaks. During that time, pet her, scratch her favorite spot, and tell her she’s a good dog.
Ensure You Are Using the Right Brush for Your Dog’s Coat
If your dog still hates to be brushed, it could be because you are using the wrong tools.
Most dogs need to be groomed regularly. No matter the length of her coat, brushing will keep her coat looking its best by increasing blood circulation and distributing her skin’s natural oils throughout. Plus, the more you do it, the more she’ll get used to it, and the less you’ll battle.
However, there’s a big difference between grooming tools designed for long-hair versus those for short-hair dogs. Using the improper brush could cause injury to your pet so you must understand which is best for her coat. Look for a brush specific to your dog’s length of hair or one like the BarxBuddy self-cleaning brush that works well for all coats.
Introduce the Brush in Short Grooming Sessions
To reduce your dogs hatred for brushing, start with short grooming sessions in an area with no distractions. With one hand offer treats or a toy to keep her attention off the brush as you gently touch and brush her coat with the other.
Although it’s typical to start at the head and brush toward the tail, brushing her tail first may help calm your pet if she’s a nervous dog. No matter how short the session, praise her for allowing you to brush her, using a soft, positive tone.
Sessions in the beginning may only last a minute, and that’s okay, because the more you practice this process the more it will become routine and your pet will grow to understand that brushing isn’t a danger or playtime. Over time, you’ll want to increase the length of the grooming sessions. Note that if your dog has had any bad experiences with grooming, it can take longer for her to trust you and enjoy being groomed.
How to Improve Your Dog’s Coat
Once your dog allows you to brush her entire coat without issue, you must maintain it so she doesn’t experience any tangles or matting (especially for long-haired breeds) as these can be painful to remove and cause her to once again fear the brush, putting you back to square one.
If your dog is short or medium-haired, expect to brush her once a week, if she’s long-haired she will need brushed daily. Start at your dog’s head and work your way down to the tail. For short-haired dogs, use firm, gentle strokes to brush the coat in the direction the hair grows. Use firm, gentle long brush strokes, for wiry or long-haired dogs use long strokes. If your pet has a thick coat, start brushing from the skin outward, then start over by brushing the coat in the same direction as the hair growth. Brush her coat the same way every time to make your pet comfortable.
Spray with a coat conditioner or a pet- and environmentally friendly detangler if your dog has trouble with tangles or her hair is prone to matting. This spray will help loosen the tangles and any knots, making it easier to brush and less painful for your dog.
Don’t forget to brush your dog’s entire coat including underbelly, legs, feet, and ears!