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While many dogs enjoy grooming sessions, some go berserk when they see a brush. But brushing your dog’s coat isn’t just a great way to keep them in tip-top shape. It’s also a vital part of responsible dog ownership.

Routine grooming sessions keep you connected to your dog’s overall health, too. They provide you with an opportunity to examine their coat, body, and paws for any problems.

Don’t lose hope if your dog wiggles, hides, bites, or runs away at the sight of a brush. There are ways you can make the experience much more positive for you both.

Why Does My Dog Dislike Being Brushed?

Your dog may hate brushings for a lot of reasons. Dogs have good memory and will remember previous scary or painful experiences. This is especially true for negative experiences that happened during puppyhood.

Pay attention to how your dog reacts before, during, and after brushings. Do they react negatively to certain motions? If your dog is flinching every time you get near them with a brush, they may have bad experiences associated with brushings.

Some dogs become anxious about brushings. This could be because they have anxiety or because they find new experiences scary. It’s also possible that your dog has past traumatic experiences you don’t know about.

It’s also possible that your dog may have had a bad grooming experience before. Someone could’ve brushed their fur too hard. They could also have sensitive skin and avoid your brush to prevent potential pain.

And, of course, some dogs are also just impatient. They’ve got energy to burn and don’t want to sit still.

Regardless of the reason, it’s possible for all these dogs to learn to love brushings.

Pembroke Welsh Corgi holding a brush in its mouth.
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How to Brush a Dog That Dislikes Being Brushed

Dogs can’t communicate why they don’t like when they’re brushed. You need to treat them respectfully and gently as you brush them.

It’s easy to feel angry or frustrated when brushing your dog feels difficult. But showing frustration will equally frustrate your dog and make the process more difficult. You need to show them lots of love and patience.

Load up on treats to give your dog as you brush them. Don’t hesitate to give them a treat every couple of second — you want to give them a reason to cooperate.

  1. Create a relaxing environment for your brushing adventure. Make them comfortable by placing them on something soft, like their bed or a towel. It also helps to keep them in a contained space where they can’t run away, like a patio or porch.
  2. Always start by giving your dog a treat. Have them sniff the brush first to introduce them to it. If your dog doesn’t react well to a brush, try a grooming glove that fits your hand to make it seem like they’re being petted, not brushed.
  3. Start by brushing one small section at a time. Focus on sections that are easy to reach and don’t bother your dog. As you move the brush through their fur, offer treats.
  4. Try short brushing sessions. Praise your dog as you brush, then stop after a few strokes. If you discover an area where they don’t mind being brushed, try practicing there.
  5. If your dog is tolerating you, you can use a treat to reposition them, so you can get to more areas. You can also get them to roll over or turn around so you can get to their other side.
  6. You may only be able to brush a few small sections when you start brushing. That’s okay! The goal is to show your dog that this is a positive activity.

If you hate brushing your dog as much as they hate being brushed, you could try giving them baths more frequently to help remove hair and decrease shedding. For dogs who hate sitting still, you may have better luck brushing them after an energetic activity, like a long walk or agility training. If treats aren’t enough to distract your distressed dog, try using a puzzle toy filled with treats to make them think as they eat.

Remember, every time you brush your dog, the goal is to build trust with them. You want to make every brushing session a positive memory for your dog.

Siberian Husky laying down indoors next to a large pile of fur and brushes.
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What to Do If Your Dog Bites While Being Brushed

Biting or growling during brushing is not acceptable and often requires professional intervention. If your dog is biting you or your brush, consider working with a trainer to help curb this behavior.

You may also need to work with a groomer who is trained to deal with fearful dogs. They will often team up with other groomers to restrain your dog, so everyone stays safe.

It may also be a good idea to speak with your vet to rule out medical conditions causing pain during brushing sessions. Arthritis, infected ears, or inflammation in the joints could cause your dog to jerk when you’re near those sensitive spots.

Even though your dog may hate brushings, it’s an important part of pampering them. In time, your dog may even grow to love being brushed.

This article is intended solely as general guidance, and does not constitute health or other professional advice. Individual situations and applicable laws vary by jurisdiction, and you are encouraged to obtain appropriate advice from qualified professionals in the applicable jurisdictions. We make no representations or warranties concerning any course of action taken by any person following or otherwise using the information offered or provided in this article, including any such information associated with and provided in connection with third-party products, and we will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages that may result, including but not limited to economic loss, injury, illness or death.

Related article: 10 Grooming Secrets From Show Dog Experts
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