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Why Is Your Dog Acting Strange After a Grooming Session?

By Aviram K.
April 16, 2021
4 min read
Why Is Your Dog Acting Strange After a Grooming Session?
🏥 The information in this article is not a substitute for professional help.

You can feel your excitement build as you pull up to get your dog from their latest grooming session. Suddenly, your favorite furry friend emerges.

You see your pup bathed, hair brushed, eyes and ears cleaned. But you notice something is different besides their pristine appearance.

Something is definitely off. They’re not walking quite right.

They seem tired or withdrawn…even depressed or embarrassed.

You can’t seem to shake the notion that their grooming session is the cause of these changes. Unfortunately, your intuition may be correct.

Dogs can feel a wide range of uncomfortable emotions from a grooming session. Most of the time, that’s because your dog isn’t used to being handled. However, it’s also possible that the groomer may have mishandled your dog, causing him to act strangely, stressed and even traumatized.

In this article, I will show you:

  • Why your dog can feel different after grooming.
  • How a haircut can actually change your dog’s personality.
  • Why your dog may be feeling tired, depressed or traumatized
  • When and how sedatives are used as a part of the grooming process.
  • How to make your next trip to the groomer stress-free.

Let’s get started!

Do Dogs Feel Different After Being Groomed?

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Grooming can make a dog feel different, like how a new haircut can make humans feel different. When you get a haircut, you may feel radiant and lighter, like a brand-new person.

Your dog may not experience emotions the same way you do, but they’re aware that they feel different. A new haircut can be dysregulating to a human along the autism spectrum. Dogs can actually feel this same kind of discomfort after grooming.

Can a Haircut Change a Dog’s Personality?

It’s a common occurrence for dogs to exhibit personality changes when they have had a haircut. Online message boards are full of dog owners trading stories after their dog has had a shave or trim.

A change in your dog’s personality may actually be a result of your reaction to their appearance. As your dog’s alpha, you hold a lot of power. If you mock them or make it obvious, you don’t like how they look, which may cause them to feel ashamed or even sad.

Why Does My Dog Seem Depressed After Grooming?

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Your dog may be showing signs of depression because he finds grooming uncomfortable. Enduring unfamiliar touches without understanding what’s happening could be what’s troubling him.

While no one has yet to prove that dogs can be clinically depressed, dogs can still feel similar emotions. A dog’s experience of depression may manifest in a few of the following ways:

  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Lethargy
  • Hiding
  • Appetite changes
  • Stomach problems and more

Symptoms of depression in your dog may also signal other conditions. It’s always best to get your dog checked out by your vet if something seems off.

Can a Dog Be Traumatized After Grooming?

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It may sound dramatic or hard to believe your dog can be traumatized from grooming, but it’s true.

Since your dog may go to a groomer only once in a while, it may feel like an unfamiliar place where painful things happen to them.

This sense of trauma is especially likely if something goes wrong during grooming. A shave that’s a little too close, a nick, or a cut may leave your dog feeling skittish.

If your dog just went through an rough grooming, there could be blood or itchiness under his nails. After such a session,your dog may even show signs of aggression or distress.

Also, if your dog’s anal sacks are bleeding, it could be the result of improper expression of the anal glands.

Seeing those signs after a grooming session, may indicate that your dog has been mishandled during the grooming session.

Is It Normal for Dogs to Be Tired After Grooming?

A long couple of hours at the groomer can definitely leave your pet all tuckered out.

They’ve likely been through a lot! This isn’t a big deal, but excessive sleepiness, grogginess, or signs of overheating may be a problem.

These signs may show your groomer gave your dog an illegal sedative without your consent.

Do Dog Groomers Use Sedatives?

Groomers may sometimes use sedatives to help a grooming session go well.

But, it should always be with your consent. A groomer has to discuss the use of sedatives with you beforehand.

If they think it’s necessary, they will ask some questions to determine if sedatives would be helpful. They will also make sure you are aware of the potential risks and side effects.

The groomer may want to know about your dog’s:

  • Anxiety level surrounding grooming
  • History of aggressive behavior surrounding grooming sessions
  • Unique grooming needs, according to their breed
  • Reactions to grooming at home

Sedatives are a last resort option. They are helpful only when a dog is too fearful or aggressive to endure a regular grooming session.

Two standard options for doggy grooming sedation are Benadryl and General Anesthesia.

  1. Benadryl is an over-the-counter antihistamine. Benadryl will calm your dog down but will not completely remove their anxiety.
  2. General Anesthesia will put your dog under to complete more complex treatments. It helps with removing large tangles or matting, which may be too painful for the groomer to work on if your dog were awake.

You and your groomer should work side-by-side to determine the best option for sedation. Your veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist will be able to prescribe you the medication, if needed.

How to Make Your Dog’s Grooming Experience Easier

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You and I both want our dogs to feel comfortable during their grooming session.

Here are some pointers to help your dog feel at ease. Use these tips with treats as reinforcement and watch your dog progress:

  • Allow your dog to play and explore on non-grooming trips to the groomer. This helps them get comfortable at the location before their grooming appointment.
  • Cut the stress of the car ride to the groomer by ensuring the ride is calm. Consider anti-nausea medicine if motion sickness is a problem for your dog.
  • Simulate the grooming process by practicing touch with your dog at home. See the places your dog is uncomfortable with touch and move slow. Say the body part aloud before going to it and be sensitive to move from soft to a firmer touch.
  • Pinpoint the aspects of grooming that make your dog uncomfortable. Make adjustments like using non-slip mats if the table is too slippery. Experiment with the water temperature.
  • Consider using a muzzle if your dog is particularly aggressive. Consider continuing to use a muzzle if it made the grooming process easier.

…All This over a Simple Grooming Session?

What seems like a cut-and-dry grooming session to us may be anything but simple to our dogs.

It helps to understand the many emotions your dog may be feeling during grooming. This equips and empowers you to make the best decisions for your dog.

And who knows, next time, they may act a little less strange after grooming.


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Grooming

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Aviram K.

Aviram K.

Dog Behaviorist & Trainer

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