There's no doubt about it, Toy Poodles require regular grooming to look their best. But many of these petite pups suffer from "groomerphobia," a fear of groomers. The sound of the clippers, dryers and other dogs—as well as being away from their owner—can add up to a Toy's worst nightmare So what can you do to adjust your dog's attitude toward grooming?
To help ease your dog's anxiety, get him comfortable with being handled at an early age. Find a time when your dog is happy and relaxed—such as after mealtime. Then, sit down next to him and gently massage his body. Start with places that he likes to be petted, for example his belly and his ears, then gradually move to other places, such as his feet. Speak gently and praise him for lying quietly.
Introduce him to brushing
After a few massage sessions, begin to spend a few minutes brushing his coat. Don't worry about actually grooming him, just get him used to the sensation. Again, praise him for lying, sitting, or standing quietly.
Turn on the hair dryer
Get your Toy used to the sounds of a hair dryer. Put the dryer several feet from him. Turn it on and off very quickly and give him a treat when it's on. As he acclimates to the sound, leave it on for a few more seconds and gradually move it closer to him, letting it blow on the least sensitive part of his body and away from his head.
Get him used to being on a table
Put him on a table or other raised surface for a few minutes at a time. Make the experience pleasant by speaking quietly, praising him, and rewarding him with treats. Gently but firmly insist that he stand, sit, or lie quietly while you touch his paws and brush him. Increase the length of each session gradually. Be careful that the surface is non-slip by using a towel or bath mat—and never leave your dog unattended.
Remember, the more comfortable your pet feels with home grooming, the better he'll tolerate professional grooming. And that's important—as a Toy Poodle, he has a lifetime of grooming ahead of him.