Any advice on how to groom a frighten dog?

I have a malti-poo and she hates being groomed, and I am thinking about trying it myself. Please see why on my blog at
any advice on how to groom a frighten dog, pets animals, Miss Priscilla hates being groomed She hates her front feet and lower legs being brushed She is the kindest most loving dog you will ever meet But don t say the word brush or get the brush out
Miss Priscilla hates being groomed. She hates her front feet and lower legs being brushed! She is the kindest most loving dog you will ever meet. But don't say the word brush or get the brush out!
  20 answers
  • Moxie Moxie on Jan 10, 2014
    put a muzzle on her so you don't get bit and just do a little and then give a treat; over time maybe her opinion of grooming with change?
    • Patty Rumaker Patty Rumaker on Jan 10, 2014
      @Moxie I haven't had to use a muzzle, but I am a little concerned when I try to groom her she might just take a little nip.
  • Carole Carole on Jan 11, 2014
    What sort of brush do you use? If it is too stiff or the bristles are sharp perhaps that is why she does not like her legs brushed? Less hair on the legs than the rest of the body? Just a complete guess.
  • Carole Carole on Jan 11, 2014
    Just looking a little further at your blog - I think perhaps someone was a bit rough brushing her or nipped her skin with clippers at some point. Might explain her fear. This would be enough to make her very scared in future. I would not hold her down at all, but use a very soft brush - like you would use to brush a babies hair - until she gets used to being brushed without painful consequences. If you give treats as you go, she may see it as a more positive experience. I cannot see her changing her attitude to being brushed if you grip her tightly when doing so. It reinforces that brushing is something unpleasant to be struggled against. I would avoid clippers or anything that makes a buzzing noise till she is more comfortable with being brushed. Good luck.
    • Patty Rumaker Patty Rumaker on Jan 11, 2014
      @Carole I do believe someone hurt her - hopefully not intentional but hurt her all the same. I never thought about getting a baby brush - great idea. I am going to go get one today and see how this works. She is such a sweet girl and I hate having to "pin" her down to brush her front feet.
  • Rob Wilson Rob Wilson on Jan 11, 2014
    I have a Maltese and she comes home from groomers shell shocked sometimes. One cut her ear once, so needless to say we never went back there. You should only use the straight metal comb on her, they don't like the metal bristles and there skin is too sensitive for that. Give her messages, and make her feel comfortable and just do a little clipping at a time. Until she gets use to it again.
    • Patty Rumaker Patty Rumaker on Jan 11, 2014
      @Rob Wilson I do give her massages and she loves it. I went to a dog training class when we first got her and the instructor said to massage them everywhere so they are comfortable with being touched everywhere, and that works great. I can massage her feet but I cannot bring a brush near her front feet. She is fine about the back feet.
    • Patty Rumaker Patty Rumaker on Jan 11, 2014
      @Siff S Thank you so much for sharing this video. Calm, assertive energy and loads of patience and belly rubs and then again and again. I like it. Thank you.
  • Jody D Jody D on Jan 11, 2014
    Start with a baby brush, Set it next to her while you "cozy" at your normal times. let it just sit next to you ever time for awhile til she gets used to it. Work your way up til it touches her. then a stroke with praise and a treat. She obviously had one bad experience and I would advise against the muzzle as that will increase her anxiety just be patient and do little bits at a time the way you would with a child
  • Louetta Waters Louetta Waters on Jan 11, 2014
    I would give a couple of brushes then a little bit of a treat..just a tiny bit..just touch her at first then start gently touching her then a treat building up to brushing
  • Carol Harris Carol Harris on Jan 12, 2014
    try gently brushing her at random time, not just when its time to bath her or groom her, just to cuddle and love her, give her treats. When I get the brush my collie comes running she loves the attention. Also it could be your groomer, some groomer are just like hair stylist, they shouldn't be doing it. Good Luck.
    • Patty Rumaker Patty Rumaker on Jan 12, 2014
      @Carol Harris Thank you. I was told by a groomer to only brush her once again and be in command when I do and not cuddle at the time I am brushing - but I think she gave me some bad advice. Why shouldn't brushing be a good time! I am going to try to do exactly what you are saying. You are so right about some people should not be doing what they are doing. One thing more - Priscilla doesn't like people who smell like smoke (smokers) and that could also be a problem - if the groomer smells like smoke she is scared of them before they even begin.
  • Christine Christine on Jan 12, 2014
    I have a Malti-poo also.She didn't like her fisrt groomer,but is happy with her new one. I say to shop around.Its less stress on you and she will benefit from SPA day.
    • Patty Rumaker Patty Rumaker on Jan 12, 2014
      @Christine I have gone to 4 different places, but I am sure there are many more, but I am afraid at this point with her being so afraid. She shakes so bad when I take her, it makes me so sad, and I feel like a bad fur-baby Mommy. I want her to enjoy it, or at least not hate it.
  • Carol Harris Carol Harris on Jan 12, 2014
    @Patty, when I first got Molllie, she had been neglected and abused, so I even had to cut knots of fur off of her, so I kind of made a game out of brushing time, got her really happy about it, and love on her a lot, and when I got done, would always give her a treat, she loves it now and she's not afraid. Just be patience with her, kindness and being gentle will win her over, good luck.
    • Patty Rumaker Patty Rumaker on Jan 12, 2014
      @Carol Harris Sometimes patience is hard but I am going to try doing things myself for awhile and yes being very patient about it all. I figure if she gets a little knot I can just cut it out. Thank you!
  • Joy Schwartz Joy Schwartz on Jan 12, 2014
    Hi Patti, I have a recue wire hair fox terrier.. I couldn't even get him to come and snuggle with me. I have never sent him to a groomer. I think it is wonderful, your wanting to do it yourself. The kitchen sink I have faces the yard and has been a wonderful distraction for his bath which I do during the day. Anytime I get an opportunity I use a wide tooth comb on him. He is also feet sensitive. Always start at the ends and work your way back to the roots. Since you dog also has hair, a comb and a scissor is the way I started. Never do the entire dog at one time. Do one area at a time.. and then praise, praise, praise. I always tell him how pretty he is during and after each session. Some sessions are long and others are short. Don't worry about mistakes.. hair grows back. He doesn't like his head to get wet, so I use a wash cloth like with a child. I wet his hair with it, and then I rinse the same way and then using a cup also. As far as shaping the hair, find a dog book for the breed involved and then work toward the look you like best. Trial and error. Enjoy your baby.
    • Patty Rumaker Patty Rumaker on Jan 12, 2014
      @Joy Schwartz Thank you Joy for all of your kind words, encouragement and suggestions. How wonderful to have a sink that looks outside - what a wonderful distraction for her! Great advice about the wide tooth comb - I do have one. Silly but I didn't think about combing from the bottom up - so ignorant because that is what I do with my own hair - can't believe I didn't think of that - THANK YOU! -What a great idea about washing her face - she doesn't like that water getting on her face either. I am going to try and do this myself with a lot of patience and maybe she won't look the best after I have messed up but you are so right - it will grow back. Thank you!! :)
  • Carol Harris Carol Harris on Jan 12, 2014
    @Patty, that's what I would do too, if you wanted to you could also look up on the computer on how to groom this breed of dog. I think you're on the right track. She is a little doll. They also make a spray conditioner for dogs that help with tangles. And you are welcome.
    • Patty Rumaker Patty Rumaker on Jan 13, 2014
      @Carol Harris She is a little doll and we love her so much and we just want to do what is best for her. I do have some spray conditioner and I love it - it helps tremendously.
  • Christine Christine on Jan 12, 2014
    I understand it.The first groomer had too many dogs running around and the dryer made Ellee nervous.I was blessed to find an older lady.She does Ellee alone now there is mo other dogs around.So its better.I wish you lick.
    • Patty Rumaker Patty Rumaker on Jan 13, 2014
      @Christine All the grooming places are noisy to me. We live a pretty quiet life and so when we go to the groomers it is noisy and busy and a lot of energy going on and I think she finds that stressful all by itself. Heck, I find all that noise and stuff stressful. I would love to find an individual groomer but it hasn't happen so far so I will try on my own and just see how it goes.
  • Valerie Valerie on Jan 13, 2014
    Is there any possibility of an underlying skin condition that might make it sensitive when the skin is touched? Otherwise I would agree that it would be best to slowly get her used to smaller brushes and to continue cuddling and giving her lots of encouragement.
    • Patty Rumaker Patty Rumaker on Jan 13, 2014
      @Valerie I don't think there is any underlying skin problem - but thank you for thinking beyond the brush issue. She is fine with me touching, petting and rubbing her feet - I just can't bring that brush out. I did find a different soft brush that I already had and started using that the other day and I think she likes that a lot better. I think now I just have to give it some time and patience.......
  • Jennifer Rowse Jennifer Rowse on Jan 13, 2014
    Hello Patty, I have a French Bulldog, and I must clip her nails, bath her and clean her ears. The simple trick I use is to have one of my daughters giving her little treats through the clipping and ear cleaning, we also encourage her and speak gently to her. She has come to sort of look forward to the process due to the treats and all the extra special attention. After she is bathed I wrap her in a towel and snuggle her to comfort her, then she always gets something yummy when it is all over with and a hearty "GOOD JOB, Chelsea!" At the end.
    • Patty Rumaker Patty Rumaker on Jan 13, 2014
      @Jennifer Rowse sweet! Priscilla has never been big on treats, although she loves her dog bones, but she wants to take them back to her bed where she stores them for later or eats them. What specific treats do you give your dog?
  • Joy Schwartz Joy Schwartz on Jan 13, 2014
    When you get better at it, that's when I used an electric groomer. I bought a great tool, as it had wonderful reviews.. I use it on his underside and rectal area... I still have to trim his head with a scissor. The tool is Andis..I got it from PetSmart but you can shop around. They make a small model that will work for your baby.
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    • LeeAnn Gerleman LeeAnn Gerleman on May 19, 2016
      @Patty Rumaker I have a goldendoodle and a shih tzu. So I'm grooming a lot. If you get the ANdis clippers, you can buy blades that allow you to cut hair to a certain length. example a 10 blade is good for tummy and under the tail. A 5 3/4 blade cuts hair all over about 3/4 inch long. I have two dogs that hate to have their feet done, so I brush them well and use scissors on both front feet. But I trim the top of their head, with scissors, and around the face, and the rest of the body, I use the 5 3/4 blade, comb the hair up, and run the clippers over them. They have a lot of youtube videos about grooming. I've done my own dogs for years.
  • Cher D Cher D on Jan 13, 2014
    benadryl.... this is what i have to give to my dog... the vet you see the pic to the left that is my baby
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    • Patty Rumaker Patty Rumaker on Jan 13, 2014
      @Cher D Haha!! I might need some of that mellow yellow myself!
  • Carol David Carol David on Jan 16, 2014
    The little treat hidden under a towel helps my Cavelier King Charles stay less focused on the blow dryer and what I am doing as I brush her. It does take a little longer that way, but I think it's worth it. Usually I will break one larger biscuit into smaller pieces so I don't over-feed. For clipping, I started out with wide-toothed comb and scissors till she was ok with that and then I went to the clippers which, of course, take less time. She responded well to all of this, along with lots and lots of loving praise! Nail clipping I do with her on my lap, holding her paw firmly but gently. If she is having a particularly hard time with this, I may only clip nails on 2 paws and do the others in a day or two. One big thing for you to remember-- just love her through everything and relax. Perfection will come as you both get used to the routine! BTW she is a sweetie!
    • Patty Rumaker Patty Rumaker on Jan 16, 2014
      @Carol David Thank you Carol! You are so right about the need for me to relax while trying to do the things that need done. I like your idea about breaking up a biscuit and placing it under the towel! We are working on things and some days I think things are much better and other days I don't see much change but I am hanging in there. I haven't even tried to nail clipping yet. She is a cutie & we love her so very much.
  • Patty Rumaker Patty Rumaker on Jan 20, 2014
    I want to thank everyone for such helpful advice. I am finding it is a slow process, but I think we are making progress. She doesn't seem as afraid during bath and drying time. Still having issues with brushing the front legs and paws - but it is getting better. The baby brush idea was absolutely great - sometimes she will let me basically pet her with the baby brush on her feet and not pull them back. It is getting better. I haven't yet tried any cutting of hair. We shall see. She might start looking like a little disheveled if I don't speed things up - but I don't care right at this moment - as I think it is more important that she becomes comfortable.
  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Apr 15, 2021

    Hi Patti,

    Do it with love! Slow and combine it with cuddles and fuss + rewards!