How to deal with a dog that won’t tolerate being brushed

How to deal with a dog that won’t tolerate being brushed

Grooming & Hygiene

Most dogs really enjoy being brushed and groomed, because it gives them your exclusive attention and lots of tactile feedback, as well as of course making their coat and skin feel better and cleaner. However, whilst some dogs seem to tolerate brushing rather than enjoying it, others really hate being brushed and will make it very difficult for you to do this, which can be a serious problem if your dog has the type of coat that really needs grooming, like the Afghan hound.

A dog that dislikes brushing may well have had a bad experience of being brushed before, causing them to anticipate pain, discomfort or a telling off-and so it is important that you go back to basics and treat grooming your dog as if you were starting to do so for the very first time, working carefully and ensuring that it is a positive experience for your dog.

In this article, we will examine how to go about grooming and brushing a dog that very much dislikes the process, and share some tips and advice on how to make sure that your dog learns to see brushing as a positive experience. Read on to learn more.

What’s the problem?

It is important to try to get to the bottom of why your dog doesn’t like being brushed in the first place, as this insight can help you to make adjustments and ensure that they get comfortable with being brushed in the future.

One common cause for dogs to dislike being brushed is if they have been brushed too harshly or roughly before-such as if they were very knotty, had become very unkempt, or the person brushing them didn’t take enough care-and it can take dogs a long time to get over memories of that type.

If your dog used to enjoy being brushed but has become intolerant, think about what has changed-for instance, if they see a groomer, could something have happened there? And watch your dog’s reactions to the brush itself-for instance, a dog that flinches when you raise the brush may anticipate being hit with the brush.

Additionally, you may wish to ask your vet to examine your dog to make sure that they are not suffering from a sensitivity, allergy, injury or damage that causes brushing to be painful for them.

Finally, if your dog’s dislike of being brushed has led to them being matted and knotted, the best approach to this is to have their fur clipped and start again rather than worsening the issue by forcing them to sit through a stressful and painful grooming session.

Your brushes

Whatever type of brush you have, if your dog hates being brushed, it is time to get rid of it and get a new one. The bristles might be too sharp or harsh for your dog-or the brush itself may be fine, but your dog will have built up negative associations with the brush that make a clean sweep with new equipment a good idea.

You may well need more than one brush in order to take care of the different layers and lengths of your dog’s fur, so do your homework and make the right choices for your dog’s coat and remember where each brush should be used!

Before you start brushing your dog, you should let your dog get familiar and comfortable with the brushes and tools you will use. Do not simply come at your dog with the brush-show them the brush, let them sniff at it, and learn to relax with it. This may take some time, and may mean that you cannot get started with your new brush right way, but it is well worth spending this time to ensure that your dog views the brush as nothing special or threatening before you try to use it.

Securing your dog

Whether or not you should restrain your dog for grooming is a decision that only you can make. If your dog fights, fidgets, rolls around or snaps at you, you may have to tie them up securely using two or more leads to avoid them turning around. However, this too can stress your dog out, so again, work on this process gradually before you even approach them with the brush.

For other dogs, you might want to wait until an opportune moment when they are relaxed and happy and start gently running the brush over them for a few strokes now and again until they come to accept this as tolerable and pleasant, which means keeping the brush nearby and using it when the time is right, instead of planning a grooming session.

Keeping your dog relaxed and happy

Even if you are anticipating your dog getting wound up and stressed out when you get the brush out, you should ensure that you yourself stay calm and relaxed, as your dog will pick up on your mood. Talk to them reassuringly, particularly when you are out of their line of sight, but do not overly pander to an illogical fear, as this will only reinforce it.

Begin by stroking your dog and then replacing your hand with the brush, using a light pressure and never pulling or tugging on the fur. Gradually increase the pressure and work down through the coat, ensuring that you never rush or yank at knots and matted areas, which will undo all of your hard work.

It is important to accept that you may have to try this for a few minutes every day and you will not be able to groom your dog’s whole coat all in one go while they get used to things, and also, to ensure that you keep sessions very short and stop and reward your dog as soon as they start becoming upset or unsettled.

There is no shortcut or easy road to changing a dog’s mind about something that they fear or dislike-it will take time and effort, as well as a lot of patience!



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