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Despite the fact that these are some of the most lovable dogs around, poodles are high-maintenance when it comes to grooming. And for these standoffish dogs, a regular trip to the groomer can foster fear and anxiety, especially if the groomer is an unfamiliar human. They will need some additional training to stay calm while grooming.
Even grooming at-home can be stressful for your pet. In order to keep your poodle happy and make the regular grooming sessions a breeze, training your poodle to remain calm while grooming is an essential part of any poodle owner’s regime. Here is everything you need to teach your dog to stay relaxed and enjoy the grooming session.
Why do poodles need so much grooming?
Poodles are high-maintenance dogs that require more grooming than many standard family dogs. Whether your dog is a Standard, Miniature, or Toy variety, grooming will become a part of your regular routine with a poodle. Show dogs can require as many as 10 hours per week in grooming time, and lower-maintenance family dogs will still need a proper groom every four-to-six weeks.
The dog’s thick, curly coat is moisture resistant, and while the curls are what give poodles their unique appearance, they also become a twisted, tangled trap for all the hair that the dog sheds. Without proper care, poodle fur can easily become matted.
Poodles’ ears are also a reason they need so much grooming. The long ears that fold over the side of their heads are perfect for petting, but limit the amount of oxygen that can enter the ear. This makes these cavities the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and yeast, which can quickly turn into an ear infection.
When you take your dog to a groomer, they will check the poodle’s ears and pull out any hairs that have grown inside to reduce the chances of infection. The groomer may use a special tool called a hemostat to remove the hair.
Eyes and Nails
As for a poodle’s eyes, the natural tear stains that appear underneath their furry faces are the result of bacteria. These stains need to be cleaned regularly with special wipes to avoid infection and keep your poodle looking fresh and clean.
Finally, poodles nails also need to be trimmed regularly to avoid sore feet and an affected gait. This can be painful for the dogs, but broken or cracked nails can also lead to dangerous infections. Untrimmed nails can also cause wear and tear on your floors and furniture!
All of this means poodles need plenty of grooming, and that grooming can be invasive and annoying. Your dog will be poked, plucked, and prodded in on all areas of their body in what can be a very uncomfortable experience. But properly trained poodles can remain calm and make the grooming process easy.
How to train your poodle to remain calm while grooming
When it comes to training your poodle, consistency is key.
These highly intelligent dogs get bored easily, and won’t respond well to long training sessions. Instead, you should plan short, regularly scheduled training sessions throughout the day. These dogs learn best in short bursts and love high-energy and enthusiastic training.
Poodles thrive on kind words and praise, so make positive reinforcement a tenet of your training regime. Instead of pointing out the dog’s mistakes, focus instead on what the dog does well. Ignore any bad behavior and instead provide rewards for positive actions, and your dog will learn the difference over time.
You should start your poodle training as early as possible. If you get your poodle as a puppy, it should become a part of your normal training routine, the same way you teach the dog to “sit” or go to the bathroom outside. If your poodle is more fully grown, you can still include this as part of your normal training routine.
The best way to help your dog feel comfortable at the groomer is to get it used to being touched. Poodle grooming does require prodding the dog in uncomfortable places (like the inside of the dog’s ears and around its eyes), so get your dog used to being touched in these areas.
When you play with your dog and he or she feels comfortable and relaxed, make sure you grab its toes, gently stick your fingers in its ears, run your fingers along its face, and more, all while providing positive reinforcement through kind words, pets, and treats.
Dogs are not the Poodle’s Best Friend
Socialization is also important to training poodles to remain calm while grooming, especially if you will take a dog to a groomer. Unlike golden retrievers or labradors, poodles are naturally aloof dogs who won’t quickly warm up to new people.
Socializing from an early age is important to get the dog comfortable with other people, including the groomer who will take care of his hair needs. Introduce your poodle to new people early on so he or she can feel comfortable around strangers. If possible, try to use the same groomer each time so your dog can bond with him or her.
Finally, it is also helpful to familiarize the dog with the tools you or the groomer will use to clean your pet’s ears, eyes, and fur. Do this over time by laying with your poodle on the floor, then introducing one tool at a time with the reward of a treat. Let the dog sniff the grooming tool and investigate it. Your ultimate goal is for the dog to feel safe around these tools, not scared or nervous.
With time and patience, your poodle will slowly get used to the grooming process.
What to do with especially anxious poodles?
If your dog really struggles with grooming and your best training efforts can’t keep your poodle calm, it’s worth asking your veterinarian for help. Some vets might prescribe calming agents or mild sedatives for you to give your dog just before grooming.
Despite being invasive and uncomfortable, you can train your poodle to remain calm during the grooming process. With consistency, enthusiasm, positive reinforcement, and patience, your dog will slowly learn that grooming is nothing to be afraid of!
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