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Grooming & Anxiety in Dogs: What to Do & How to Help

If your dog experiences anxiety, grooming can become a challenging task. In this blog post, our veterinarians in New Iberia offer tips to calm your dog during grooming and reduce anxiety.

Grooming Anxious & Nervous Dogs

Grooming plays a crucial role in maintaining your dog's well-being. When fur becomes matted, ears get goopy, or nails grow too long, it can cause discomfort for your furry friend and potentially escalate into more severe health problems if ignored. From bathing and brushing to cleaning ears and trimming nails, grooming can become daunting if your dog feels nervous or anxious about it.

Keeping Your Dog Calm During Grooming

Begin Grooming Young

Whether you groom your dog at home or take them to a professional groomer, starting a grooming routine while your dog is very young is advisable. Starting early with brushing, nail trimming, and ear cleaning helps your dog view grooming as routine and not intimidating.

  • At-Home Grooming: Beginning at-home grooming while your puppy is young is a great way for both of you to begin feeling relaxed and comfortable about the grooming process. Beginning grooming while your puppy is still small and manageable will also help you to become more confident.
  • Professional Groomers: If you have a fearful or anxious puppy, professional groomers are trained in a variety of methods to help put your dog at ease. Taking your puppy to the groomer while young will help teach them that visiting the groomer is a normal and enjoyable day out.

Stay Calm

Whether you're preparing to groom your dog yourself or getting ready to take your dog to the groomer's, remember to stay calm. If you're nervous, your dog will sense it and think there's something to fear.

  • At-Home Grooming: Have all the grooming tools ready before bringing your dog into the room. Being prepared will help you to remain calm throughout the grooming process. Speak to your dog calmly and let your dog safely sniff and explore tools such as brushes and clippers. Wait until your dog is calm before beginning grooming, and have treats handy to reward good behavior. 
  • Professional Groomer: If possible, consider walking your dog to the groomer. The added exercise provided by a walk is a great way to burn off nervous energy and help your dog arrive at the groomer's feeling calm and confident. 


One of the most effective methods to calm a dog before grooming is engaging in vigorous exercise. Taking long walks, running, playing fetch, or letting them interact with other dogs at the park are excellent ways to relax your dog without relying on medication. After your dog expends all their energy, grooming becomes a relaxed and straightforward process.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement effectively trains your dog to stay calm and relaxed during grooming. When you offer treats and praise as rewards for sitting still to be brushed or allowing nail clipping, you instill good grooming manners in your dog. Take a gradual approach, even if it entails clipping just one nail at a time. Remain calm, positive, and patient throughout the process.

Provide a Calming Touch

Dogs love to be patted and petted, and grooming time is no different. Patting and holding your nervous dog throughout the grooming process can help to reassure your pet that everything is ok and that there is nothing to be afraid of. 


Just like humans, several scents are known to have calming effects on dogs. To help calm your dog during grooming, try rubbing some lavender essential oil onto your fingertips and then running your fingers through your pet's fur. The relaxing scent of lavender and the calming effect of touch may help your dog feel more relaxed. 

Dog Appeasing Pheromones

If your canine friend is nervous or anxious despite your efforts to keep grooming calm, you may want to try using a synthetic pheromone diffuser. Pheromones are chemical compounds that transmit signals between animals. Scientists have isolated the compound that transmits a sense of calming relaxation to dogs and created a range of products to help keep pets calm during grooming. 

Using a synthetic pheromone diffuser bathes your room with an odorless, non-sedative, synthetic hormone that can help to relax dogs but does not affect humans or other animals. Speak to your vet to learn more about using a synthetic pheromone diffuser to help calm your dog during grooming.

Medical Sedation for Dogs

If your dog exhibits extreme anxiety or fear during grooming, you may need to visit your vet to discuss medical sedation options.

Your vet may recommend several effective anti-anxiety and sedation medications for dogs. However, not all sedation medications are suitable for every dog. These may include diazepam, acepromazine, gabapentin, or fluoxetine.

Always consult your veterinarian before administering sedation medications to your dog.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Does your dog have anxiety when being groomed? Contact our New Iberia vets for more tips on calming your dog.

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