Grooming Young and Old Dogs

Animals fall into three categories for me:

  1. Geriatric or senior
  2. Babies: puppies and kittens
  3. All the others in between

Pets in the first two categories, although similar in many behaviors, must be treated very differently.


Puppies/Kittens…or Attention Deficit Animals:
As many pet owners have admitted, if they were grooming their pet correctly and efficiently they would have never called me. I will not focus on kittens/cats since anything they do not want to do of their own accord is considered the gravest indignity. At any age bathing and blow drying would be considered a heinous act. Consequently, the focus is on puppies.


Your pets are being handled by a person they have never seen and have no reason to trust. On top of which all these strange “things” are coming at them, most of which make a lot of noise. Blow dryers that sound louder than a vacuum, clippers coming straight at their face, scissors being put on them where they cannot see them but make noise. Combine this with a moving target, your puppy, it is an accident waiting to happen.


To expect a puppy with limited exposure to behave as a veteran of 5 years is not reasonable. It takes patience, training and repetition. To expect a puppy to look like an adult groomed dog is something that I tell people is highly unlikely. In order to have a “perfect” haircut on a dog, they must hold perfectly still. A puppy has no intention of ever holding still. By brushing the correct way, cutting the nails, trimming very little, bath, blow drying and re-brushing, that puppy has just about had as much as they can take. To force a baby to behave as an adult with experience some people will yell, scream or jerk that animal around. I however opt to slowly and safely teach them proper grooming behavior. They might not look like the picture in the book the first few times, but after a while, as they learn how to stand and move correctly you end up with not only a good looking dog but one that has not had a traumatic experience.



Geriatric Animals:
These old folks have it very difficult. Having arthritis myself, I can relate to how these poor souls feel. As some geriatric humans can be, they are deaf, blind, cranky, no patience and really hurt. They cannot bend they way they once could, nor can you bend or move them to groom they way you could when they were younger. To some sitting is just as painful as standing and getting up can be the most difficult thing they do all day.


Grooming with these animals I insist, not suggest be done in the fastest manner as possible. I will not take a 15 year old dog, make them stand on a table for without being able to sit to hand scissors them. The object is in an out of the van in the quickest amount of time. The danger of grooming these type of animals is just as high as puppies but different issues. They will jerk, squirm and usually snip. Not because they are mean but frightened since their eyesight and hearing is failing. Due to the stress that some older pets experience because of the situations above, it is necessary for the owner to always be present in the van during grooming.

Making things safe, easy and trauma free will give your pet a pleasant experience not something they will dread.