Is force free grooming a reality?

I spend many hours on Facebook talking to force free (or positive reward) trainers from all over the world and there is an opinion that professional grooming is a very negative thing for dogs to experience. and that groomers cannot work force free.

I can understand this to a certain extent due to the fact that canine and feline behavior is fairly rare to see offered in grooming courses.  There is plenty about equipment, how to shampoo a dog, the correct way to scissor but not much, if any, about how to read the stress signals in a dog or cat. When I certified as a groomer many years ago I was taught nothing about canine behavior. Talking to groomers and we agree that is is very difficult to groom in a totally force free way. We don’t like using force but often we are faced with severely matted, aggressive and untrained dogs that we have to remove severely matted coat from.  When it comes to those groomers who do cats the situation is even worse, as there is not many courses on feline behavior out there in the world, let alone Australia and who trains a cat for handling let alone grooming.

Where does that leave groomers?

I am very pleased to tell you that in the world there are enlightened groomers who seek out this information on their own. They are committed to doing their job in as force free a manner as possible and are actively seeking out ways to improve their processes. Sadly there are many who are not willing to work in a force free manner and adopt the attitude that says
“I do what it takes to groom the animal” They are backed up by owners who often say exactly the same thing and what it takes may mean the groomer ends up being badly bitten and the dog traumatised.

I recently started a facebook group for groomers who want to expand out their knowledge and look at better ways to do what they are doing. It is a dynamic and exciting group containing many individuals from all over the world who are interested in examining their techniques and trying new things and already we have made some interesting changes to our way of working.

Is it possible to work force free as a groomer?

Yes and no is my answer to that. Yes if the client has presented with a dog that has been well handled and trained as a puppy to grooming techniques or is willing to put in the time and effort to do the training required in an older dog. No if it is the client who leaves their dog to get into a matted mess and then tells us to do “whatever it takes” and doesn’t care about how aggressive their dog becomes in the process.  Clearly I and most groomers who love to see more of the first and so much less of the latter. There are ways a groom can be conducted in a less forceful way but it takes willingness on the part of groomers and our clients to do that.

One can only wish and in the meantime keep educating  pet owners and groomers.


Louise Kerr
The Pet Care Magician   | |  Like us on Facebook

Facebook groups: Promoting Positive Reward Based Dog Training

Groomers who chose to use positive methods to groom dogs and cats

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Louise Kerr (aka The Pet Care Magician) is the owner of Elite Pet Care & Education based in the Nambucca Valley NSW Australia. She consults and writes widely on a range of pet care issues including feeding, training and grooming dogs and cats. Her online pet care magic subscription program deals with common pet behavior  training, feeding and grooming issues such as barking, escaping, scratching, aggression and fleas. Pet care professionals are trained to handle customer issues by the provision of up to date programs to differentiate their pet care business from other competitors. About Me 


Posted on January 27, 2013, in Dog Training, Grooming, Mobile & Salon Groomers, Pet Care Businesses, Pet Guardians, Training and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

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  1. Pingback: Your Questions About Dog Training Schools Online | Train My Dogs Myself

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