Pets do not only experience separation anxiety when their owner
leaves the home. A trip to the veterinarian or grooming salon can
cause mild anxiety or full-blown fear. With the right knowledge,
groomers can help pets and their owners feel more at ease.
Megan Mouser, education manager for Sturtevant, Wis.-based Andis Co., offered Pet Product News readers four go-to
tips on alleviating canine anxiety and preventing aggression
when working with dogs in distress.
1. Be Firm But Loving
Patience, affection and treats can go a long way toward making
an anxious pet feel the love.
“Most dogs are either scared or spoiled and act accordingly.
They may growl, nip or even just lay there like dead weight,”
Mouser said. “I’ve found that a firm loving hand, like a grooming
restraint, usually solves the problem.”
2. Make the Dog Feel at Home
Sometimes, pets are just looking for a friendly face. When
treats and a soothing voice fall short, incorporating the greatest
resource—the pet’s owner—can offer pets some relief.
“If present, I always recommend calming a nervous dog with
3. Consider It Spot’s Spa Session
a little bit of pet parent TLC,” said Mouser. “For example, many
dogs get frightened when a groomer tries lifting them into the
tub. Instead, try calming the dog’s nerves by letting the owner
lift the dog into the tub.”
Once in the tub, dogs rarely take issue with groomers
bringing on the suds. Continue using a soft voice, moving quickly
yet gently, to keep the dog calm throughout the bath.
Groomers can borrow a common calming trend from human
spas: essential oils. Aromatherapy can soothe a pooch’s senses
sans traditional sedatives.
“Just like humans, many dogs respond positively to essential
oils like lavender,” said Mouser. “Adding a small amount of oil to
bath water or placing a small amount on a paper towel near the
dog can have a calming effect, relieving the dog’s stress and anxiety.”
4. Dog Clipper Desensitization
Dogs are commonly alarmed by noisy, vibrating clippers. Try
desensitizing with these simple steps.
“Start by petting the dog gently all over its body and observe
reactions,” Mouser said. Then, try gently stroking the dog’s fur
with the clipper before turning it on.
“Did the dog seem to mind being touched in certain areas?
Be mindful of these sensitivities when proceeding with the
groom,” Mouser added.
Groomers have a responsibility to their canine clients and
their owners, Mouser said. Following through with the aforementioned tips can help manage anxiety and develop trust so
pets will, ultimately, feel more comfortable and willing to return
to the salon.
CALL ATTENTION TO BEHAVIOR ISSUES
While many customers often have behavior and training concerns
already in mind, you never know who might be walking through
your store with an unaddressed issue. Displays are great for both
sets of customers. They can catch the attention of shoppers who
didn’t know these types of solutions existed and can be educational to those who are at your store already looking for answers.
Sarah Ercolani, president of Fun Time Dog Shop in Whitmore
Lake, Mich., emphasized the importance of setting up training
equipment or demoing products that customers might have a
hard time visualizing when they’re in a box. Ercolani works with
a lot of competition participants and said that having fitness
equipment set up for the customer to see is invaluable.
“We also spend a significant amount of time talking with our
customers so that we can truly make the best recommendation
based on the outcomes they are striving to achieve,” Ercolani
Janet Marlow, CEO of Pet Acoustics Inc. in Washington Depot,
Conn., said that retailers should call consumers’ attention to
cats, as they often have many of the same behavioral and training
issues as dogs. She suggested doing a month-long focus on cats
and utilizing signage to really drive the message home.
“Use your front window display to do something all about
cats and their needs,” Marlow said. “There are a lot of cat owners
out there, and they often don’t get the same attention that dog
owners do. Make the focus on cats and their behavioral issues
and you just may get a whole new set of clients. The millennial
generation, in particular, has a strong interest in having cats.”
The Company of Animals recently refreshed the appearance
and enhanced the sales appeal of its Halti line when it expanded
its product offering to include more than 60 new items.
“But what we believe is more important than clever marketing is that we created these innovative products that have revolutionized the way people train their pets,” said Larry Cobb, CEO of
The Company of Animals’ U.S. division in Davenport, Fla., “which,
in return, strengthens the bond between pets and their owners.”
KNOW YOUR PRODUCTS
When it comes to training and behavior products, education is important.
It’s likely that your customers are going to have a lot of questions. That’s
because, more often than not, they’re coming in with a specific problem or
concern in mind.
Sometimes they’re also looking for new products or something
better than what they have. Sarah Ercolani, president of Fun Time Dog
Shop in Whitmore Lake, Mich., heavily focuses on training products in
her store and has a lot of clients whose dogs compete in agility training.
While these clients are already very educated, Ercolani said that they
still have plenty of questions. That means she must be at the top of her
game. As a result, Ercolani takes a multifaceted approach to reaching
customers with information.
“We offer hands-on training, written materials and videos,” Ercolani
said. “We also have posters that show how to use equipment and provide
a list of qualified trainers. Customers do need education on how a product
will help them and their dog. Plus, not using fitness equipment properly
can result in injuries. Providing resources and education is the best way to
Janet Monaco, owner of Pet Pros in Rockledge, Fla., said that she
keeps most of the anxiety products behind the front counter because
they’re small. However, she said this also generates the opportunity to
“We put a big emphasis on talking to our customers and getting
to the root of their concerns,” Monaco said. “They come in to ask us
questions, and we can pull out some products from behind the counter to
suggest as solutions.”
Conversation is especially important when it comes to cannabidiol
(CBD) products. Many consumers do not understand the benefits of hemp/
CBD products and are especially confused by the difference between hemp
seeds, CBD and marijuana, said Alina Smith, CEO and co-founder of Pet
Releaf in Englewood, Colo. So her company continually educates its retailer
partners about its products, which includes supplying support materials.
Smith said the most important things for retailers to look at when selecting CBD products are hemp country of origin, extraction method, mixing
agent, and consistent third-party testing to ensure potency and efficacy.
KEEP CALM AT THE GROOMING SALON