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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 13 week-old cockapoo puppy already hates being brushed. I tried a slicker brush very gently when we first got him at 8 weeks and he was terrified. I managed to get it through a few times while I fed him some boiled chicken. It was suggested to try a soft boar bristle brush to see if the softer bristles would cause less anxiety but he freaked out yesterday. Now I am worried b/c he is a breed that definitely will need to be groomed every 6 weeks or so and I am terrified I will have a dog that no one will groom b/c he is so scared. Ideas?
 

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My 13 week-old cockapoo puppy already hates being brushed. I tried a slicker brush very gently when we first got him at 8 weeks and he was terrified. I managed to get it through a few times while I fed him some boiled chicken. It was suggested to try a soft boar bristle brush to see if the softer bristles would cause less anxiety but he freaked out yesterday. Now I am worried b/c he is a breed that definitely will need to be groomed every 6 weeks or so and I am terrified I will have a dog that no one will groom b/c he is so scared. Ideas?
I have a few points on this. But please don't freak out. It'll be okay. I'll let some of the most experienced P+ owners on here talk about how to make your dog more comfortable. But I wanted to touch on a few things from a groomers perspective.

One, please please please continue to work on your dog with getting him comfortable with grooming, because it makes groomer's life very hard when they deal with a terrified dog, however, don't feel bad if he is just that way, because I promise you your groomer has seen worse. Also regular brushing means a less traumatizing experience when he actually goes to the groomer (I.e no mats, less tangles, etc.), which is super helpful for him to learn to trust groomers.

Two, you'll have a very hard time finding a groomer who is going to turn away your pup because he is scared. Most groomers constantly deal with scared dogs and we just find ways around it its basically part of the job. I would start taking your pup to the groomer as soon as all of his shots are done and get very small things done just so he can get used to the experience. We have a puppy right now who comes in every week or so to get his feet rounded and paw pads shaved and nails trimmed. It really doesn't need to be done that often. But it's helped us develop a bond with the puppy and will make it much easier for when he needs a full groom. It costs that owner 10$ everytime they come in. But it will be worth it when the groom comes out looking nice because the puppy was calm and helpful during the process.

Three, please don't hate your groomer if your puppy is still scared when he goes in for his first groom if the haircut doesn't look perfect. The groomer is trying their best and sometimes there isn't much we can do. A co-worker of mine just had to call out because yesterday she had a Bernese Mountain dog who refused to stand. It took two people to hold him up and because of that his back-end didn't come out perfect. The owner spent a good ten minutes berating them about it. We have dogs who get scared and snap at us everytime we go anywhere close to their heads, and owners who freak out when we couldn't thinning shear the eyebrows perfectly while their dog was trying to take our fingers off. Most groomers are perfectionists and will do whatever they possibly can to give your dog the best cut, but sometimes it just doesn't happen.

I'm curious to see what everyone else posts about on here, because I'd love to see some tips I can give customers who have dogs like this. :)
 

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You're going to have to break grooming him down into tiny parts. By tiny I mean, smelling the brush, having you hold the brush, having the brush touch him no using it and you're going to have to touch one at a time each body part getting him used to each one before moving on to the next, only once he's happy with you doing that should you try brushing him and then only one or two strokes on one body part.

Having broken the process down into steps start working on each get him happy with you doing each one before moving on to the next and go at his speed not yours. A training session would be brush on the floor he smells the brush he gets a treat do 5 or so reps then put the brush out. Your goal is to have him be happy to see the brush, "yay!!! the brush I get super awesome treats!", You can do a few sessions a day. Some parts may take a few days or a week to get him used to, others may take only a day or two, it just depends on him and how scared he is of what you are trying to do. Again go as slow as he needs you to go, and if he's really scared of one of the steps you may have to break it down into smaller ones, or maybe go back a step and rework that one a day or two before proceeding with the new one.
 

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The advice to break the process into small parts or processes is good advice I can tell you from my experience with Samantha, after six years, the daily brushing and combing routine is not her favorite part of the day. She understands that there is no escape, so she will grudgingly submit, but will occasionally object. With her, like any poodle or bischon, she has to be brushed and combed daily, or she quickly becomes a matted mess, like she was when we first adopted her. I know her groomer appreciates that she is never matted, but it is a never ending task. In addition to daily brushing/combing, she goes to a professional groomer, at our Vet's, every four to five weeks. She has had the same groomer since we adopted her, so they know each other well, which really helps. Since groomers are un-regulated, I'm far more comfortable using our Vet's groomer, believe me he closely supervises and regulates anything and everything that goes on in his clinic.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Update: So yesterday afternoon I took out the comb and showed it to him and fed him a treat. Then I put the comb on the ground and put a treat on top of it and he ate it right off the comb. Then I started gently touching him with the comb as I fed him treats and though he was a little "concerned", he happily ate the treats. I was able to gently comb him on his back, head and sides. He wasn't into me touching his legs so I left them alone. I'll try to to do this every day and hopefully he will accept it. He's also starting to smell like doggie so I want to be able to bathe him soon...
 

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you are definitely on the right track. the key is baby steps. in his time. I talk to mine right through the entire grooming process "good boy! oeeeeeee its nice! You going to look so pretty! Im so proud of you!" he responds very well to this. and I also let him play with the brush a bit after the grooming session. almost a kind of a submissive gesture from the brush. so he thinks he won, not the brush, he is still in control.
 

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Great advice in here!

Yup, I agree with he will need to be broken of his fear. It's like taking your kid to the doctor...they may hate it but it's a necessity in his life and a part of his health, honestly.

Research groomers around you that have awesome reviews. You need to go in for a grooming appointment, talk with your groomer, ask questions and just take a minute to let yourself trust them as well because your energy is felt by your puppy so if YOU'RE dreading going to the groomer, he will too. Trust your groomer. We got this...your dog is scared? That's completely fine!! A good groomer will tell you it's going to take a little longer today because they will go slow to not stress your baby out. We know it's scary for them.

It's very important to find the right groomer for him and get an appointment with them every month, most groomers will let you rebook your next appointment!. Do the homework they tell you to do at home in between grooms. It'll help. It's going to take some time and patience but he'll get there! Also if your grooming shop has a shopping part, take him shopping just to visit.

But yes, there is nothing more nerve racking (safety wise) than a scared wiggle worm. It's so dangerous! I always say I rather have a dog that bites than a wiggly dog. The risk of cutting them sky rockets.

Get an electric toothbrush..those are your "clippers" ..once he gets use to the brush practice with the toothbrush just like you do with the brush. Run it all over his body and reward good behavior. If he gets scared wait until he stops struggling and stop when he relaxes and reward him. He needs to be desensitized the motions of grooming and the feet holding and chin holding and vibrations. I'm not a trainer but I deal with scared dogs and sharp tools everyday and somehow safely get it done so I'm just coming from my personal experience, I know others do things differently!

Good luck! I hope he gets use to it!
Cheers
 

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Great advice from all. Working for a vet we have a local groomer who we work with. She grooms "problem" dogs. Ones who no other groomer will handle. Unfortunately these poor dog have to be fully sedated in order to be groomed. Very sad. So keep working with your pup and find a wonderful groomer to help you.
 

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I would suggest limiting the grooming session to a few minutes per session at first. Once he gets comfortable with the grooming session then you an increase the grooming time. You should also use a dematting tool that wouldnt pull or hurt when grooming. This is the best tool on Amazon that i've used so far and it is way better than the popular brand names.
Furry Supplies Grooming Tool
 

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My rescue dog was scared of being groomed (I've had her for 4 months now). We have been hand feeding her her dinner - one handful at a time. I have found a sllicker brush was too much for her, so had to start with a soft brush - I would gently brush her once, and immediately give her a handful of food. And repeat that. I also trained her to 'touch' the brush with her nose to be given a treat. She wasn't comfortable at first, but after a couple of days realised that the soft brush wouldn't hurt, and she would be rewarded after brushing. She's now fine with a soft brush, I can brush her without a problem. I haven't yet had this success with a slicker, but one step at a time!
 

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I've had my rescued Chorkie for 3 weeks and he didn't like the slicker brush or metal comb either. So I went to the dollar store and bought a very small plastic human hairbrush and comb. I've been working on him a little everyday with those and he seems to like those better. I figure when I can get him to be still with those for a full brushing, then we'll try the slicker brush and metal comb again. I wonder if it's the sound of the metal in the slicker brush and metal comb that bothers him. You know how they have a kind of "scratchy" sound and the plastic tools don't seem to have that.

I know on one of the grooming videos I watched the groomer took the scissors and opened and closed them about a dozen times so the dog could hear them first before she actually tried to cut anything. So maybe the sound does have something to do with it.
 
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