How To Restrain a Dog While Grooming?

Whether you’re tired of sinking your hard-earned money into your local groomer or eager to let your artsy ways shine, grooming your dog at home is a wonderful option

However, many dogs don’t enjoy grooming, and one of the biggest mistakes newbie groomers make is not restraining (or properly restraining) their dogs for fear of hurting them. 

how to restrain a dog while grooming
How to restrain a dog while grooming?

I’m here to help you put those worries aside since not correctly restraining your dog as you groom them could lead to more injuries. So, I’ll teach you how to restrain a dog while grooming, showing you the best tools and strategies.

Safety First

Some dogs will happily jump on a grooming table, ready for a makeover, while others balk at a clipper’s scary sound and don’t want to get their paws wet. So, while I’ll focus on how to restrain your dog safely, I first wanted to start with your safety.

If you know that your dog doesn’t like grooming, it’s best to wear a long sleeve shirt, pants, and gloves for protection. It’s easy for them to scratch you as they thrash around, and a moment of panic may elicit a bite from them—something that’s likely not part of their nature. 

woman wearing protection while grooming dog
A woman wearing facemask and gloves while grooming a dog.

Equipment To Help You Restrain Your Dog

Although the word “restrain” sounds harsh, keeping your dog restrained is crucial for their safety while you groom them. The frequency with which you groom your dog depends on their coat; silk-coated dogs and those with curly or wavy hair need grooming every 4 – 6 weeks.

So, now that you’re prepared to groom your dog, below is some helpful equipment to help restrain your dog. 

pomeranian happy being groomed
This happy Pomeranian is having a ball getting a doggy haircut!

Grooming Table

A grooming table isn’t a requirement for grooming your dog, but there’s a reason people use them—they have restraining devices that’ll keep your dog safe. 

The grooming table you choose will depend on your dog’s size. Choosing a grooming table that’s too small for a large dog could cause them to fall off the sides, and the restraining devices likely won’t fit a dog that’s too big.

Another advantage of grooming tables is the comfort they offer. You can purchase a table that stands at a level comfortable for your height, meaning you don’t have to do the back-breaking work of bending down as you perfect Fido’s trim.

how to restrain a puppy for grooming
Restraining a dog for grooming is tricky – let alone an energetic puppy!

Dog Restraints

A dog or grooming restraint is a device with one or more arms that allows you to place a leash around your dog’s neck. Doing so prevents your dog from laying down, sliding off the table, and wiggling out of control as you groom them.

In fact, when figuring out how to restrain a dog while grooming, these arm restraints are one of the most popular methods. They accompany many grooming tables, but you can also purchase or make one on your own and attach it to the table of your choice.

Choosing Safe Surfaces

Grooming your dog creates a slippery mess between clipped hair and water. So, it’s crucial to give your dog a safe surface to stand on while you groom them.

High-quality grooming tables come with non-slip surfaces. However, if you’re creating your own makeshift grooming space, place a heavy non-slip mat on the floor or table. Rubber is an excellent material.

Relaxation Tools

Believe it or not, scientists believe that over 72% of dogs suffer from anxiety of some form. Over a third of this number had to do with stress from noise sensitivity, while general fears accounted for 29% of anxiety in dogs.

Needless to say, even the most relaxed dog has an increased likelihood of experiencing anxiety when you groom them. So, instead of making them suffer through the process, consider using calming aids.

These aids can be as simple as putting on some gentle music in the background to something more potent like veterinarian-prescribed anxiety medication. You could also take the homeopathic approach by squeezing some drops of essential oil in a towel and putting it near your dog’s nose.

7 Tips for a Smooth Grooming Experience

Now that you know how to restrain a dog while grooming in terms of tools, I’ll give you some tried and tested techniques. 

1. Plan Out Your Grooming Steps

There’ll be fewer things more frustrating to your dog when you restrain them than if you’re trying to figure out how to work the grooming tools. So, before securing your dog to the grooming area, make sure you have the clippers set right, the water is at a comfortable temperature, and you know the exact course of action you’ll take for grooming your dog efficiently.

You may want to try several techniques for bathing your dog at home, as some dogs react poorly to water while grooming. 

groomer holding poodle ears
A groomer holding the Poodle ears.

2. Desensitize Your Dog to the Equipment

In the days leading up to when you want to groom your dog for the first time, try desensitizing them to the grooming equipment by placing the brush or clippers by their bed or near their favorite toy. It’s also helpful to accompany your grooming tools with treats. Although doing this won’t altogether avoid your dog getting nervous while you restrain them, it can help calm them some.

dog with grooming tools
Grooming tools beside a cute dog.

3. Prepare Your Materials in Advance

Your dog will likely be nervous when you groom them, so if you leave the room to get grooming supplies, it could send them off the edge (although hopefully not literally, if you choose the right-sized grooming table). So, gather all the materials you need and have them within arm’s reach before restraining your dog for grooming.

clippers for yorkie hair
Clippers for Yorkie hair make the coat grooming fast

4. Use Care When Restraining Your Dog

Your goal is to make the restraining process as comfortable as possible for your dog. Therefore, let them smell the restraining equipment before putting it on and use gentle movements. Make sure to talk to your dog in a soothing voice during the process.

If your dog makes loud, sharp yelps at any time, check to ensure the equipment isn’t pinching them.

grooming a maltipoo
Grooming a cute Maltipoo at a salon.

5. Don’t Coddle Them

I know this is a tall order if you see your dog in distress as you groom them, but in most cases, you’re doing them a disservice by stopping what you’re doing to cuddle them. Coddling is different from talking to them in a soothing voice since it means stopping the action or cuddling with your pet. Instead, keep going while talking with them lovingly as long as they’re not in pain. 

mixed color maltipoo wavy puppy
A mixed color apricot and white Maltipoo puppy cuddles. A rare color of coat!

6. Manually Restrain Your Dog

Whether you don’t like using resistance gear or can’t find it at the store, you can use your arms as human resistance. Using this technique is best if you know your dog won’t react adversely by growling or biting you. There are two ways you can manually restrain your dog—by wrapping your arm around their neck or stomach

combing dog's hair
Groomer combing the dog’s hair.

7. Be Mindful of Using Treats

It’s understandable to want to give your dog treats to ease your guilty soul when you restrain them. While this is a fine choice if your dog behaves well, don’t give them treats if they’re wiggling around and trying to get out of the restraint. Otherwise, they may think you’re rewarding their wiggling behavior and will try to replicate it.

toy breed dog gets a treat
A toy dog breed gets a treat. Good boy!

Are You Ready To Groom Your Dog?

No one likes hearing the word “restrain” when talking about their best four-legged friend. However, using dog-approved restraints and positive reinforcement is the safest way to groom your pet.

So, regardless of the methods you choose to use from this article, the critical part is that you give your dog lots of assurance and love during the grooming process. They’ll surely feel better after the grooming, and you’ll (hopefully!) be happy with your grooming job.