While some dog breeds barely require any grooming at all, others need this very regularly, and they don't all enjoy having this done.
So, how do you groom an aggressive dog?
Here are a few tips to keep in mind...
Learn the Dog's Triggers
Dogs are aggressive for different reasons.
For most dogs, the reason behind their aggression will be fear. This means that it is up to you to eliminate that fear if you want to groom an aggressive dog.
How do you remove that fear?
You need to take things slow.
Begin by giving the dog time to get used to you, as well as your touch. You can do this by slowly running your hands over their body, paying particular attention to sensitive areas.
Once the dog is happy with you touching him, you can then start to introduce some of your grooming tools. Let the dog have a good sniff of these first. Then, run them gently over the dog's body, making sure that the tools are turned off.
Use these tools to pet the dog, and give the dog a treat each time he does not react. Ideally, you should be treating the dog throughout the whole process.
What should you do if the dog is still uncomfortable?
Stop, and take a step back.
This whole process of acclimatizing a dog to being groomed can take weeks. This can seem frustrating, but it is so much better to spend this time encouraging the dog's comfort, rather than forcing the dog into a negative situation.
Restraints, Muzzles and Medication
You are probably thinking...
What if I don't have weeks to acclimatize a dog to the grooming process?
This is common, especially when it comes to rescue dogs who are in a bad way with their coats.
Well, in these cases, you will need to use restraints and muzzles.
Now, most groomers already use restraints on their grooming tables. These help to keep dogs still while they are being groomed, ensuring that the result is neat and even and that the dog doesn't run the risk of being cut by the clippers or scissors.
However, when trying to groom an aggressive dog, you will likely need a few extra restraints, as well as a muzzle.
You should always be careful when muzzling an aggressive dog, once again taking this as slow as possible. The muzzle you use is important too – it should be one that still allows the dog to pant, drink and accept treats, but should not enable the dog to bite. The muzzle should also be the right size for the dog – a muzzle that is too big or too small can result in even more discomfort and injury for the dog, which will only make him act more aggressively.
Try not to leave the muzzle on for too long. After all, you want to try to build up positive associations with the grooming process as much as possible.
Is the muzzle not helping you to groom an aggressive dog?
In very serious cases, you may need to turn to medication, usually in the form of a sedative.
However, this is something that should only be done under the advice of a vet.
Long-Handled Grooming Tools
Grooming tools are available in so many different shapes and sizes, with many of these featuring long handles. These are most commonly found in the form of combs and brushes.
These long-handled tools are perfect when trying to groom an aggressive dog. They allow you to reach those sensitive spots while keeping your hand far enough away to ensure that you don't end up bitten.
You will still need to spend some time at the beginning allowing the dog to sniff your long-handled tools. This will make him much more receptive to the tools touching his body.
Short Grooming Sessions
Trying to groom an aggressive dog can be difficult, especially since you need to try to keep the experience as positive as possible.
One way to do this is by keeping the grooming sessions short and sweet.
You don't need to do a full groom the first time around – instead, pick an area of the dog and focus on getting that part groomed. This could be the face, the paws, the stomach, or anywhere else.
Make sure that you end each grooming session on a positive note. This usually involves plenty of praise and treats.
The more you do this, the more you will notice that the dog becomes increasingly receptive to the grooming process with each session.
Enlist the Help of an Assistant
You don't have to do it alone when trying to groom an aggressive dog.
In fact, finding someone to help you can make the whole process so much easier.
Your best bet would be finding someone who has experience in handling aggressive dogs. There are certain ways in which an aggressive dog can be held by your assistant, so that you can carry out the groom without having to worry about being bitten.
However, as you can imagine, this can be dangerous unless your assistant is well-experienced in this.
Stay Firm and Calm
Dogs quickly pick up on the emotions of the people around them.
If you are feeling nervous or unsure, an aggressive dog will take advantage of this, and will likely intimidate you even more.
While it may be difficult, it is so important that you remain firm and calm throughout the whole process.
What should you do if you are feeling nervous?
Take yourself out of the situation and give yourself a few minutes to calm down. Only return to the dog once you are feeling confident again.
If you can't seem to find that confidence, you may need someone else to do the grooming for you.
It can definitely be difficult to try to groom an aggressive dog, but it can be done. It does require plenty of behavioral knowledge, along with patience and determination, but, so long as you take things slow, it won't be long before the dog soon becomes accustomed to the grooming process.