At some point in their careers, groomers will come across clients with aggressive dogs. Though you may do your best to make the dogs and their owners comfortable, some dogs end up carrying too much fear or nervousness into the salon, and it can cause them to lash out. Dogs are not familiar with the concept of grooming, or what is going on, so it’s up to the groomers to use their body language and good technique to help those dogs.

If you are a groomer who gets nervous working with aggressive dogs, you are not alone. With this in mind, Wahl E.L.I.T.E Educator Lisa Leady offers some tips on how to work with aggressive dogs and ensure the healthiest and safest groom possible. 


What are some of your tips for calming aggressive dogs down?

When working with an aggressive dog, it is best if the groomer remains calm; it will help the dog. Talk calmly. If the groomer is nervous, they should chew some mint gum, or suck on a mint. The dog won’t be able to smell the nervousness. Stick to the same routine with this type of dog. If there are multiple groomers in the salon, and they are willing to work with an aggressive dog, find the one person who will be the best for the situation.


How do I deal with the owner? Do I be honest with them about their dog’s behavior? 

I am a firm believer of being totally up front about the behavior of their pet. I explain that I am not telling them to make them feel bad; I am telling them that so in case they decide to go somewhere else they can let the groomer know, so they don’t get bit.


What do I do if the dog cannot be groomed? Is it rude to cancel on the owner? 

If you are uncomfortable doing an aggressive dog, or can’t get him done, don’t feel bad about sending him home. However, if you do decide you are going to send the dog home, please try to finish the task that you started—or at least end that session on something that the dog isn’t fighting on. If a groomer quits when the dog is fighting, he learns to start fighting sooner to get someone else.


How do I remain calm when a dog is getting aggressive? 

It takes a person who is not easily agitated by working on an aggressive dog. Also, keep the noise level down in your [grooming van] or salon. If you have music playing in your salon, make sure it’s something soothing; and take breaks. Don’t worry about messing up. I tell my clients, “Hey, it may not be the prettiest groom, but we will do what we can.” 

If the dog is too much, and you’re afraid of injuring the animal, it’s time to stop.

Though we would all like to avoid these situations, it is best to always be prepared and know how to handle them when they arise. An aggressive dog doesn’t instantly mean a poor groom or your failure as a groomer. Rather, it’s a chance to develop your talent and passion for the animal and for grooming, as well as grow as a groomer and a person.  PB