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How to bath a dog with aggression

Having to groom a dog with aggression can be very dangerous especially if one doesn't have the experience and tools to protect themselves, with dogs of any size no matter  if they are small or large, can cut deep into human's delicate skin with ease, a dog's mouth can be said to be equivalent to our 2 hands together, so it is never wise to underestimate them. In this article we will share about the tips to successfully bath a dog without getting your hands bitten badly, note that we say this because there is absolutely no guarantee that anybody (no matter if they are professional or not) can escape being bitten, sooner or later you will have to face injuries if the problem is not resolved. A dog with aggression needs help in training, the article here is only for temporary sake, the best way to solve the problem is to first target the behavior of the dog, if not rectified the dog may turn even more aggressive in time to come, thinking that biting is the only way to stop anything they do not like.

I am currently a dog trainer and have seen a lot of aggressive dogs biting other dogs and humans in front of me, a short history to share, we used to have a German Shepherd mix when I was still very young (thus unable to decide for my family), he was an extremely aggressive dog that bites any stranger who comes near to our gate, he would escape by jumping over our 2 meter high gate once in awhile to fight with other dogs, coming home happily with injuries from time to time, my family would think that this is cool and speak highly of him, not knowing that the poor dog needed lots of exercise and training, till one day they get bitten themselves, grooming was impossible, feed by kicking the bowl towards him if not their feet would be gone, nobody dared to touch him, except for me where he allows me to touch him everywhere without problem, even his mouth, this had nothing to do with training though, the dog simply treated a child as his pack. Now after more than 20 years, I have come to experience and understand that most dog's aggression starts with fear, the fear escalates when owners unknowingly encourages the act, then this aggression may soon become their tool to use when encountering any difficulties. When this happens and not corrected early, owners may start to see a drastic change in their dogs - some suddenly seem to become very confident, lunging forward and turning extremely aggressive/protective, as if they are very confident and strong, however what a lot of people do not know is that hidden inside, these dogs are always very unsure, traumatized and frustrated, deep within they are actually the weakest of them all.

What was used in this video:
E-Collar (size must be right)
Collar (preferable nylon for easy control)
Favorite treats
2 adults
Waterproof toy

Protective gloves in case of bites
Short leash

Do note that the tips below are just for reference purpose, if your dog has the intention or ability to put your life or body in danger, please let professionals handle them, you might not want to risk destroying your life doing this, after all dogs would never feel guilty nor learn anything during aggression, most if not all can't think nor control themselves when they are in hostile mode.

1. Collar
The dog should always be on a collar throughout the whole grooming process, use a collar that is easy to put on and cheap, it will be wet and uncomfortable so you need to remove and dry it after grooming is done. Collar is good when you need control in times of need, a collar can be held onto when the dog tries to run away, or if you need better grip (especially head area). If your dog is very sensitive to collars and will bite when touched, then a leash attached to the collar will be helpful.

2. E-Collar
E-Collars should be made of waterproof plastic and have velcros to strap onto the dog easily, get the right size for the right dog, the end of the funnel should at least be over 3/4 of the dog's snout, too short and it will be useless. E-Collar acts as a replacement for muzzles during grooming as it is waterproof, you can also wash the area of the dog's face unlike standard muzzles. Do note that if you are not cautious enough, the dog will still be able to reach and bite you, just that it will be a lot harder - you have much more time to react with the E-Collar blocking the dog's range of attack, never  approach aggressive dogs from the front. In the video, you will see that the E-Collar is always near me whether it's in the bathroom or drying area, always keep it ready and put it onto the dog BEFORE it gets aggressive, do not attempt only after it starts biting. Remove the E-Collar once you are confident that it won't bite, sometimes it takes a few rounds of grooming and bathing before the dog becomes better.

3. Favorite treats
Before grooming starts, it's always good to first try different treats to see what the dog prefers, use it during drying process to distract the dog. Do not attempt to force the treats into the dog's mouth, dogs do not eat when they feel stressed, however the smell can help to distract them a little, put it near the dog on the floor and continue what you are doing, if the dog reaches for the treat, let it finish and replace another treat. Note that there are dogs that are not treats motivated, when this happens favorite toys and praises will be a better alternative.

4. Waterproof Toy
Toys like rubber duck/balls are good example of waterproof toys to be used during shower, these are tools to distract the dog so that it will not be as stressed during bathing, in the video I played with the ball, the dog although has no interest in playing started to follow the movement using its eyes. Some dogs are more alert towards sound, so a rubber duck or toy with squeaker will be a better choice, use them when you feel that the dog is at its limit, or even during times when you need to wait for the shampoo/conditioner to take effect, it can be a very good distraction!

5. Towel
Towel is a must for wiping the dog dry, however it can also act as a tool to keep the dog feeling more comfortable as well as protect you from getting bitten so easily. Why? The towel acts as a blindfold that is also comforting, note that I used the towel to cover the dog's face area, massaging at the same time to distract and cover it's sight. Most sensitive dogs are very fearful of blow dryers, remember to first set it low with the lowest heat, do not rush! If you do not have a blower with speed setting, we recommend investing in one with speed and temperature settings. Slow and constantly moving forward is the right way to deal with aggressive dogs.

4. Two adults
Having two adults handling an aggressive dog is the best way to prevent bites, one person should hold onto the dryer and watch the dog's movement closely while the other do the physical work like wiping and handling the dog, handlers are preferable the one that is more calm and firm. Dogs listen better to people that are firm and calm, instead of fear they will respect them more than those that scream and shout for no good reasons, worst still if they are violent and tend to hit their dogs, in this video we had built a little trust and respect which is why the bite is not as frequent. I will say a "NO" once I notice the dog is showing signs of aggression, dog training his all about timing, the faster you predict the better you can stop a behavior.

See my 2 hands pressing onto the dog from time to time? This is a calming technique that I have been using for years, it helps to calm dogs down using body warmth and giving them a cushion like feeling, without actually misleading them and giving impression of reward unlike owners who always hug their dogs. With this technique, the handler MUST be confident and calm without having the fear of being bitten, because you will definitely be bitten if you flinch, the calmer you react the less strength the dog will attempt to inflict during bites.

The other adult should always be alert and notify the handler if the dog is not acting normally, eg. I can't see the dog's mouth from my perspective, thus Nicole alerted me that the dog is showing its teeth, this way I can be more prepared. This person can also save you if anything happens, any bleeding he/she should attend to the wound and react accordingly. A small dog like this can actually cut into the 3rd layer of your skin if it bites hard, depending on how you resist pain, because pulling your hand away will just open the wound even further. Always be safe than sorry.

Other tips
• Let your dog experience the blower even when it is not bathing time, reward with a treat if it is showing improvements, this helps to speed up the process.

• Always maintain water temperature that is comfortable to the dog, if you see it shivering just turn the heat a little higher.

• Do not laugh, laughing scares sensitive dogs!

• Ear plucking should be minimal, do a little on the first attempt, slowly increase the amount the next day or even wait till the next grooming. If there are doubts, get a professional groomer to do it.

• Understand that grooming is one of the hardest job in the dog industry, respect and notify your groomer if you have an aggressive dog, professionals too will get bitten from time to time.

• Water should be flowing slowly, try not to let them get into the ears, eyes and nose of the dog, watch the video to have a rough idea.

• Let the dog know what you are about to do, not through talking NO. For example, I let the dog smell the comb before brushing, now this is what we mean by dog communication.


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