By Kathy Salzberg, NCMG | Posted: January 3, 2011, 9 a.m. EST
Q. I am just venturing into the grooming profession, alongside studying to become a dog behavior counselor and trainer. I live in Cyprus where a frequent practice of vets is to sedate dogs for grooming sessions, thus reducing the time needed and making it easier on them.
In the parlor where I work we don't sedate dogs. Instead, the calm, assertive, loving approach works with most dogs. Occasionally we come across dogs that have been sedated as much as once per month for grooming, and when they come to us they are impossible to work with.
Someone told me that it is due to the medication used for the sedation, and that for most of these dogs there is no turning back -- they can never be groomed without being sedated again.
This sound very harsh to me, and I really would like to find a way to turn around such dogs. My love and respect for animals is endless. Apart from making the dog accustomed to grooming one step at a time using patience and care, what would your advice be in such cases? Could some homeopathic remedies be of any help? Is it really true that the sedatives can cause such permanent damage?
A. Congratulations on finding your true vocation! With your dedication and compassion for animals, I'm sure you will succeed in both in dog grooming and training. I agree that getting dogs used to being handled for grooming through hands-on training and a calm, assertive approach is best. Unfortunately some dogs have so much anxiety and/or aggression, either because of genetics or past experiences, it is impossible to groom them without some form of sedation.
If such dogs were used to being handled and well-socialized, most likely they would accept being groomed as a normal part of life. If you feel so strongly about "turning them around," by all means give it a try, but you must exercise great caution. There are some who we refer to as "two-person dogs" when it comes to calming them down and controlling them on the grooming table in my salon. It is always OK to ask for help.
We do not sedate animals; if a dog needs to be medicated, it would either go to the vet prior to its grooming appointment or the owner would administer the pills at home. Our staff includes veteran groomers who have the experience, patience, and skill to work with problem dogs, in most instances making the grooming experience far less traumatic, but there are a
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