Chapter Five – Animals within the Salon

Chapter Five – Animals within the Salon

Canine Body Language






A happy dog will show the same signs as a calm dog. In addition, she will usually wag her tail and sometimes hold her mouth open more or even pant mildly.




A playful dog is happy and excited. Her ears are up, eyes are bright, and tail wags rapidly. She may jump and run around with glee. Often, a playful dog will exhibit the play bow.




A submissive dog holds her head down, ears down flat and averts her eyes. Her tail is low and may sway slightly, but is not tucked. She may roll on her back and expose her belly. A submissive dog may also nuzzle or lick the other dog or person to further display passive intent.




The anxious dog may act somewhat submissive, but often holds her ears partially back and her neck stretched out. She stands in a very tense posture and sometimes shudders. Often, an anxious dog whimpers, moans, yawns and/or licks her lips. Her tail is low and may be tucked. An anxious dog may overreact to stimulus and can become fearful or even aggressive.




The fearful dog combines submissive and anxious attitudes with more extreme signals. She stands tense, but is very low to the ground. Her ears are flat back and her eyes are narrowed and averted. Her tail is between her legs and she typically trembles. A fearful dog often whines or growls and might even bare her teeth in defense. She may also urinate or defecate. A fearful dog can turn aggressive quickly if she senses a threat. Do not try to reassure the anxious dog, but remove yourself from the situation calmly.




A dominant dog will try to assert herself over other dogs and sometimes people. She stands tall and confident and may lean a bit forward. Her ears are up and alert, and the hair on her back may stand on edge. She may growl lowly. If the behavior is directed at a dog that submits, there is little concern. If the other dog also tries to be dominant, a fight may break out. Do not make eye contact.




An aggressive dog goes far beyond dominant. All feet are firmly planted on the ground in a territorial manner, and she may lunge forward. Her ears are pinned back, head is straight ahead, and eyes are narrowed but piercing. Her tail is straight, held up high, and may even be wagging. She bares her teeth, snaps her jaw and growls or barks threateningly. The hairs along her back stand on edge




Before any grooming can be done on a dog, the groomer must assess the dog’s temperament & behaviour, in order to know how to handle the dog throughout the groom.


Dog groomers need to have extensive knowledge of and understanding of different dog temperaments and how it is going to react in different situations. In order for groomers to work safely, knowledge of this must be extensive.



Stress & Anxiety can be a major contributing factor to how the dog will react, as well as being the main underlay for many medical problems.





The key to dealing with dogs in a salon is Firm but Fair.


Any signs of aggression must be retaliated with a firm ‘No’, which can either be used with a tug on the collar and the repetition of the word ‘No’.


Dogs will need to be moved within the salon on numerous occasions.


These will include: From the reception area to the holding crate, from the crate to the table, from the table to the bath, from bath to the table, and from the table to the crate again.


The animal to be moved can be identified in terms of breed, colour, size, sex, location, records etc.



Ensure you are fully aware of the dog’s health status and behaviour before attempting to move it as these factors could lead to aggression if not fully understood.



Before approaching or moving any dog the grooming salon should be a safe secure and comfortable environment.



Dogs should be safe from harm and so ensure a risk assessment has been carried out and there is nothing that could potentially harm the groomer or dog. Correct PPE is essential.  Environmental factors such as ventilation and, temperature should be comfortable. There should always be fresh water available and comfort breaks should be given at regular intervals. Individual crates should be available keeping dogs safe from other dogs and fresh bedding should be available for the crates. (see the Animal Welfare Act)



Approach the dog from an angle, not directly from the front or rear.


Approaching a dog from the front could be mistaken for a challenge. Approaching from behind could frighten or startle the dog. Approaching from a front angle is the most appropriate response so that the dog can see you coming. A dog’s peripheral vision is less than that of a human and this needs to be taken into account when determining the angle of approach. It must be able to see you. The ideal situation is to let the dog approach you rather than you approaching the dog. Slowly extend the back of hand (not an open palm), curl the fingers, and allow the dog to sniff. Stroke the dog on the side of the chest, the shoulders or under the chin (not on top of the head). By patting the dog on the head you are coming over the top and assuming a dominant position

Correct Lifting


Assess behaviour and weight of the dog, prepare the restraint equipment and ensure the route to be taken and final location is free from hazards. Ask for assistance is required (dogs over 20kgs, long bodied dogs, dogs with medical conditions, such as arthritis or pregnancy).Prepare to lift (counting in if there are two of you). Bend your knees keeping legs slightly apart. Keep back straight during lifting and don’t twist. Keep the dog close to your body.


Never attempt to lift anything you feel is too heavy for you!


Tools to Move and Restrain Dogs


Collar and lead/ slip lead: The most common tool used to handle animals in the salon is the slip lead. Placed around a dog’s neck it normally controls even the largest dog. Never drag or strangle an animal with a lead; if the animal starts to struggle, pulling and jerking away from you, pause and let the dog calm down and try again after reassuring her. Sometimes a quick tug on the leash will encourage a fearful dog to walk.



Verbal Restraint: Many dogs know some commands or can at least recognise authority, even if the command is unfamiliar. Commands such as SIT, STAY, COME, DOWN, NO or even HEEL may be useful tools to encourage a dog to cooperate. Also, soft quiet words can calm a frightened animal. Yelling or screaming should never be used as it can cause the animal to become more fearful or aggressive.


Towels: A towel or blanket is a very useful tool for cats and small dogs. A towel can be used to decrease an animal’s arousal by covering the head and body and can help protect from sharp claws.


 Your hands: In the event a dog refuses to cooperate with a lead –carry him. Some dogs have never seen a lead and will freeze up to the sensation around a sensitive area like the neck.


The best way to pick up a dog is to approach side on and scoop upwards one arm around the front legs and the other tucking the tail down and hodling just under the hips (tail must be tucked in as if left out it could break if the dog slips down suddenly)


Smaller dogs can be picked up one handed with your arm between both front and back legs and your hand taking the weight between the front legs.


NEVER lift a dog purely by the front legs and this can cause muscle damage and can sever axillary nerves.


Large dogs (over 20kg) require two people to lift them. Normally this involves one person lifting the neck and chest whilst the other the stomach and hind quarters. It can be very awkward but it is usually better to both work on the same side to allow lifting onto table, getting through doorways or into the bath.


Muzzles : Ensures that your dog can’t interfere with the procedure or behave aggressively towards the people handling him. Many dogs experience fear at the groomers and in some cases this can lead to aggression, even in dogs that are not normally aggressive


Wire Basket Muzzle: Probably the most popular option for dog owners. A wire basket muzzle has excellent air flow, allowing the dog to drink water even if he has this muzzle on

Plastic Muzzles: Best for dogs which have to wear this protection for a significant amount of time. These are usually lightweight and easy to clean. And they are ideal for use when bringing the dog to the veterinarian, or simply bringing him for a walk in the park.


Fabric Muzzles: Light weight and cheap but It is best used for short-term situations because it restricts the ability of the dog to pant.




Restraining On the Grooming Table



Never leave a dog unattended on the grooming table or the bath. This can result in hanging. Keep the dog restrained at all times.


 Belly Strap: Prevents dog from sitting, spinning, or sliding off the table. Remove belly strap before neck noose when take dog off the table.

Neck Noose: Quick release neck noose secures dog on the table.


A Groomers Helper or LIPS system can help restrain difficult dogs.