Have you recently adopted a rescue Chihuahua? Are you concerned about making sure they're groomed appropriately without making them even more skittish or fearful? Here are ways to make the pet grooming experience less nerve-racking for you and your new friend:
Start slowly: Expecting your pet to get "the works" the first time they visit the groomer can traumatize them. They may be afraid of water, or frightened by the sound of the blow dryer. They could even feel that they've been abandoned again if they're left at the groomer for an extended appointment. Make the first visit very short and let your pet decide what part of the facility they want to explore. Don't drag them to the grooming area, or force them to be petted by the groomer. Explain to the groomer that you're hoping that they'll be the dog's only groomer, so that the dog will start to feel familiar and comfortable with them. It might take a few visits, but permitting the dog to explore the groomer's facility at their own pace will allow your dog and the groomer to develop a slow and steady friendship.
Create a positive experience: Use a special tasty treat as a reward each time your pet visits the groomer. If they show severe fright, you may want to try to distract them by offering a bite of the treat every few minutes. Do not assume that their tremors are a sign of fear. It could also mean that they feel excited, are cold, or are hungry. Use other body cues such as avoidance, raised hackles, or growling to assess their feelings.
Ask the groomer to create the right environment: Chihuahuas get cold very easily, so ask your groomer what they can do to remove this type of discomfort from the session. If necessary, offer to bring in a space heater to warm up the holding pen. Some Chihuahuas are terrified of big dogs, while others see them as opponents to be defeated. Make sure your groomer won't be caring for any large breeds when your dog visits. Many Chihuahuas love to burrow under towels or blankets, so ask your groomer to place a pile of clean, dry towels in the cage or crate with your pet.
Build familiarity with grooming tools: If you've noticed your Chihuahua taking whiffs of empty boxes, plastic bags, or clean laundry, then they're the type of dog that uses their sense of smell for interpreting the world around them. They're not looking for something to chew, they're trying to make sense of their surroundings. They'll be more comfortable on grooming day if they've had a chance to sniff some of the implements beforehand. If your groomer uses cotton balls to clean out ears, scatter a few on your living room floor and supervise your dog while they poke them with their noses. Put a few drops of the dog groomer's shampoo into an shallow plastic container on the floor so your dog can get used to its scent. Buy a dog grooming comb and use it to pet your dog, so it can become accustomed to its feel and scent.
Chihuahuas are fun, quirky little dogs that are fiercely loyal to the humans they love. Showing patience for their quirks can help them develop more confidence about the pet grooming experience. To learn more about pet grooming, visit Woodside Veterinary Hospital.