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Discussion Starter #1
Here's Lily May at 7 mos. Sorry the photos aren't great...

I was so excited about grooming her myself, but this little girl is a HANDFUL! She fights me the whole time I bathe her (kitchen sink w/ sprayer). Last time I bathed her, she was growling at me (and still fighting) by the time I was drying her (HV dryer on low). She'd escape from the loop on the grooming table etc.

So I took her to a groomer for this latest cut. She digs in mud a lot so we took her down short!

She fought the groomer too. She said it was a real struggle to get her feet done. I was afraid the groomer would fire us.

Grooming history (I got her at 3.5mos):
  • She was groomed by the breeder at least twice.
  • I bathed and groomed her (mostly - only two feet and not all the nails!)
  • Took her to a groomer two weeks later for face & feet.
  • I bathed & dried her.
  • Took her to groomer again.
She's okay with brushing. She sits in my lap and I brush a little every night.

I really want her to get used to baths and grooming! What advice can you offer?

I plan to try bathing her in the bathtub next, although I don't have a sprayer yet. I bought her a kiddie pool so she'd experience a "bath" - but she won't get in it. (Although she loves to run through sprinklers!)

Should I try grooming a little every week? Bathing once a week?

You're all great. I love reading your posts!

LilyMay7mos.jpg

LilyMay7mos-2.jpg
 

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She is so cute and you have been trying so hard to make it work. If she had only been groomed twice at the groomer by 13 weeks, that may be part of the problem. I prefer to see baby puppies groomed once a week (fft and nails at least) from the time they are 4 weeks old. My girl and her whole litter majorly struggled for the first several grooms, but by the time she was 12-13 weeks she had already been groomed 8 times, and was pretty well used to it.

Now that your girl is 7 months old and pretty set in her ways, I would try two options (and you can do both simultaneously.)

First I would probably continue to have her groomed regularly by a pro groomer (and tip them well if she is causing them grief hahahaha)

And second I would do a short training session with her every day to get her more used to grooming. It need not be more than 5 minutes. I would focus on one body part at a time and work on that part every day until she is more accepting. For example, her right front foot. The first few sessions you would just be touching her foot and clicking and treating for letting you touch her foot. Then moving up to touching her foot with a brush or a nail trimmer, or a clipper (turned off), and just increasing the stimulation each session until she is more accepting of it. Talk to her while you do it. Explain what is going on while staying calm. Don’t push too fast. You may spend several days on one step. If it becomes too much for her to handle you may have to take a temporary step back. Baby steps. Hopefully this will help her to become used being handled and eventually you can groom her yourself!! This is just what I would do, maybe some of the better trainers/behaviorists here have some better ideas though!
 

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Chinchillafuzzy is absolutely right about a little grooming every single day. Grooming, from the dog's perspective, is a whole lot of pulling, tugging, touching and unfamiliar physical stimulation all at once. It must be super overwhelming and frightening. Let's slow everything down.

Grooming is part of how you spend time together every single day. With a clean dry dog it is much easier to get them used to the blow dryer, because you can pretend. You don't have any pressure to actually do anything other than just pretend. Pretend to blow dry your dog, pretend to use clippers, pretend to use scissors. Pick up a foot and hold on to it, pretend to groom it. The more matter-of-fact you are about grooming, the more your dog will accept it as part of life. But keep these pretend sessions short, no more than a minute or so.

One afternoon, pretend to groom all four feet. Next afternoon pretend to groom the tail. Next day, pretend to blow dry. You get the idea. A little bit of pretend each day followed by a fun game of tug, or fetch, or if your poodle is anything like Noelle... Chasing me around the house while I make noises like Curly from the Three Stooges and wave a tug toy around. The reward for being still during grooming is wild fun play with me.

The more you practice, the less scary real grooming will be.
 

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Home groomer here too - with the help of a very dear friend who is a super groomer who owns her own salon. Under her guidance we are doing quite well. I literally groom - every single day - with now (Louie is about to turn 6 months) variable length sessions. The first almost 4 months we have had him his grooming sessions were 5 minutes tops (set a timer) which doesn't seem much but you are going to do it every day. Now if I schedule it correctly (when he is tired) he will almost immediately fall asleep. So I can work a half hour at a time or even more (I am not used to doing it that long - lol). You just want the drama out of grooming - do whatever it takes to make sure she doesn't get worked up (don't do her feet for now just touch them for a split second with the clipper- then add a second the next day - literally counting out seconds until she is chill for extended periods of time) And add treats for good behavior. Reinvent grooming into mommy and me time and away from "I am being forced to endure this".This is going to take a long while to desensitize. ALSO - my groomer friend already warned me that almost all dogs will go through an a##hole phase (sorry there is no other word for it) about 6 - 9 months where they will try on being a bully about grooming - about everything really. Mine hates the bath in the sink - but I am singing to him in cheerful tones - and he plots his revenge quietly - while trying to climb out on to my shoulders like a parrot - he is almost relieved when it comes to drying time - at least he gets out of the sink! If you set your mind to enjoying this they will pick up on your vibes too - if you are dreading it so will they.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you everyone! You've given me a plan, and that's encouraging!

I have a kitchen with an island. I normally set up a grooming table in the kitchen next to the island when I groom or dry her. It's a big deal to get it out, heavy to set up, etc. (& there's not another good place to set it up). I think I'll just plop her on the island for these micro grooming sessions.

This morning I was drying my hair and she was hanging around me like normal. I blew her with air several times making happy sounds, and she pranced around & play-bowed. It was a game! That's a nice tiny start.

Moni, Lily does the same thing with me with I bathe her. Constantly crawling out onto my wet self. Like a parrot! haha... I have two of those so I get it.
 
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