I’ve been home grooming my toy Poodle Gigi for a couple of years now. And, if you ask me, investing in a professional blow dryer that’s made specifically for dogs makes a huge difference.
Some pros: The temperature-control means it doesn’t run as hot as many human hairdryers, which is important to avoid burns. The powerful airflow dries hair quickly and thoroughly. Plus, it gives dog hair a much nicer finish! To put it simply, there’s really no comparison to your personal hairdryer.
But, while we may be impressed by these amazing drying machines, our dogs feel otherwise. The loud noise and extreme blasts of air can be super scary to Fido — especially if he’s not used to it. So, before you fire up the doggy blow dryer and blast away the water droplets, it’s important to take the time to desensitize your pup.
Follow these training steps below for success!
Step 1: Sniff It … Sniff It Real Good
Before you even turn on the blow dryer, give your dog time to explore. In a closed room, with both your pup and the dyer on the ground, let him sniff away. As he gets closer and shows some interest, offer up high-value treats (such as grilled chicken, a flake of plain canned salmon, or their favorite biscuit) and praise. This will help your dog associate the dryer with something positive.
Tip: Break treats into small pieces so you can be liberal with the rewards.
Step 2: Go Low
Next, the goal is to get your dog familiar with, and desensitized to, the loud noise. So, with the dryer nozzle away from your dog (preferably near the ground) and your dog up on the grooming table, turn the dyer onto it’s lowest setting. Before your dog even has a chance to react, immediately turn the dryer off and give him a treat.
Repeat, leaving the dryer on for about 10 seconds. Repeat again, leaving the dryer on for about 30 seconds. As you allow the dryer to run for longer increments, offer high-value treats while it’s turned on.
Step 3: A Closer Look
Once your dog is comfortable with the sound from afar, it’s time to move the dryer hose closer.
Keeping the dryer on its lowest setting, hold the hose/nozzle with one hand. Point the dryer nozzle down toward the ground and away from Fido. In your other hand, hold several small treats. Slowly move your treat-filled hand closer to your dog and start offering him snacks, one-by-one. As your dog munches away, if he seems comfortable, bring the dryer a bit closer and closer.
If your dog is too nervous to accept treats, rely on soft petting and verbal praise instead. Don’t scold or force your frightened dog, as that will just add to his stress. Instead, stay calm and go slow. Depending on how comfortable your dog gets, you may need to repeat this step for a few days before moving on to an actual groom.
Step 4: A Slight Breeze
Now it’s time to run the blower over your dog (starting near his back/sides) and let him feel the air. Just like in Step #2, start with a few seconds and gradually work your way up.
Step 5: Aim High
Once your dog is comfortable with the blow dryer on a low setting, repeat Steps 3-4 with high settings. Since these blowers are really strong, make sure you have a good grip on the hose/nozzle. If you don’t, you may lose hold of it and it will whip around and scare your pup. Trust me – I say this from experience.
It’s All About Timing
Keep these de-sensitivity training sessions short: 10-15 minutes max.
More Drying Tips
To help cut down on dry time, I like to towel dry Gigi first. But, I don’t just use any old bath towel. Instead, I use a super absorbent microfiber bath towel that quickly soaks up excess water. Here are a couple of top-rated options on Amazon:
More Dog Grooming Tips
For more dog at-home dog grooming tips and advice, check out my grooming sections HERE!