The Barking Lot
Sit, stay, learn! Our blog about all things dog.
Grooming Doesn’t Have to be a Hassle!
If you just can’t seem to get your dog to relax while applying Natural Dog Company balms, you’re far from alone. In fact, it’s quite common for dogs to dislike grooming and handling, in general. For many of our pets, having their paws or face handled is quite nerve-racking. Using force or restraint to apply balm only makes things worse, exhausting you and reinforcing to your pup that it is, in fact, something to fear.
But with a little know-how, you can change your dog’s mind about grooming time. We’ve got a few tried-and-true tips that will make applying balm a breeze for you and your dog.
If Jaguars Can do it, so can Your Pup!
The zookeepers at Elmwood Park Zoo have it figured out with these jaguars, and we can learn a thing or two from how they do it. Skip to 8:45 to see Paw Soother applied to these good kitties, or watch the whole video for great info on positive reward-based training:
If these wild animals have learned to tolerate balm application through positive reward training, there’s definitely hope for your wild child! With a little bit of time and a lot of treats, your dog can learn to love this type of handling, too.
When is the Best Time to Apply Natural Dog Company Balms?
The first step to successful balm application is timing! For best results, you’ll want to apply when your dog is relaxed, to minimize squirming or anxiety about handling. Customers have reported that the best times to apply balms include:
Dogs sleep quite a bit, especially through the afternoon, so there are plenty of opportunities to catch them snoozing. It’s in these moments that our dogs are most naturally relaxed and less resistant, making balm application much easier.
Applying balm right before bed is great for two reasons: it’s another relaxing part of your dog’s day, and time is on your side. Our bodies naturally heal and regenerate the most at night while we sleep, and your dog’s body is wired to do just the same. Applying right before bed reduces the chances that your dog licks off the balm, and also gives the balm’s healing properties time to work overnight.
Just after a bath
Every time you bathe your dog, natural oils are stripped from their skin, which can cause dryness and irritation until the oils are naturally replenished. Applying balm just after a bath to paws or other problem areas can replenish the moisture they need and prevent dryness or cracking from setting in.
Where Do I Smear This Stuff?
If you purchased Natural Dog Company balm in a tin, the easiest thing to do is scoop out a dollop with your fingernail and then rub between your fingers to soften for application.
Natural Dog Company balms in a stick can be directly applied to the dog, just as you would apply a deodorant stick. However, if your dog is uncomfortable with the stick near their face and paws, don’t force it, just use your fingers to apply.
If you’re not into getting your hands dirty, you can also use a soft, non-absorbent cloth to apply balms—but Natural Dog products are good for your skin, too!
Nose-related discomfort is quite often due to dry or flaky skin on your top ridge of your dog’s nose. To alleviate pain, nourish, and protect your pup’s nose, gently apply Snout Soother 2-3 times a day until their nose is consistently smooth and moist.
Rough, dry paws can really cut into playtime. If your dog’s paws feel scratchy or look red and irritated, apply Paw Soother all over the paw pads and in between toes 1-3 times per day.
Pawtection, a preventative balm intended to keep healthy paws supple, should be applied directly to the paw pads before going outside.
Face folds and wrinkle pockets are highly susceptible to infections, irritations, and smelly bacteria. Wrinkle Balm is formulated to be especially gentle, so it can safely be used on your dog’s face, sensitive areas, and tail pocket. Before you apply Wrinkle Balm, make sure you clean the wrinkles or affected skin with a soft cloth and a gentle cleanser. Dry well, then apply a thin layer of balm inside the fold of the skin 1-3 times per day to keep your pup free of infections, sores, scabbing, and more.
For hot spots, dry skin, or surgery scars, Skin Soother is a natural Neosporin that helps your dog heal safely and quickly. Skin Soother can be applied directly to any irritated skin, open wound, hot spot, or rash, 1-2 times per day until healed.
You Can Convince a Nervous Dog to Enjoy Grooming!
Though our balms are soothing, when your dog is experiencing pain due to itchy paws, a dry nose, or irritated skin, they may shy away from being touched or handled in those areas. This is only natural, as the dog doesn’t know that you mean well, they just know it hurts.
If you’ve already tried to force your dog into allowing balm application or other grooming measures, you may have unknowingly taught them that balms are scary. It may take some time to undo this learning for them, but it absolutely can be done.
Here are three critical tips to help your dog learn to enjoy grooming and balm applications:
1. Go slowly and never use force.
The first time isn’t always the charm! Be prepared that it may take you several tries before your dog allows you to apply the balm, and it’s important to let them determine the pace. Never try to hold them down and force the balm onto their sore spots, as this will only cause them more anxiety and make things even harder for you down the road.
In your first application, watch for signs of nervousness such as physically moving away, lip-licking, or whale eye (a hard side-eye which shows the whites of the eyes). If you notice any of these things, take a break and try again later. It’s better to give it a rest than to try and force your will on the dog.
2. Be positive and praise, praise, praise!
When your dog has an aversion to something that seems harmless to you, there’s usually a reason for it that you just don’t quite understand; unfortunately your dog can’t just have a conversation about their fears. Be patient, stay positive, and keep reinforcing that they are doing a great job and that fun things are happening. It’s important to do all you can to create a positive association with things that seem unpleasant to them, as they will reflect your mood.
3. Keep the treats handy.
Counter-conditioning is one of the most effective methods to relieve a dog’s anxiety about a situation. Simply put, counter-conditioning involves using the things your dog loves the most to change their negative feelings about an experience into positive ones. So if your dog is food-motivated, a great way to counter-condition is to keep a pocket full of treats handy. It’s hard for them to be afraid when something so wonderful is involved!
As you handle your dog and apply balm, continually “pay” them small training treats throughout the process. If you don’t have small training treats on hand, peanut butter is always a great motivator, or try hot dogs or chicken chopped into small bites. You can also offer a gnawer of stuffed Kong for a hands-free distraction while you get the job done!
If your dog is not a treat junkie, try involving their favorite toy or ball. Anything they really love will help change the way they feel about the situation!
For Best Results, Give Balm Time to Absorb.
It’s okay if your dog ingests some balm by licking after application—after all, our products are all-natural. But if you can keep your pooch from self-grooming immediately after application, the balm will have more time to absorb into their skin.
Gnawers can come in handy after you’ve applied balm as well as during application! These long-lasting chews are not only a positive reinforcement while you handle your dog to apply the balm, but will also keep them distracted from licking the balm off afterwards.
When in Doubt, We’re Here to Help!
We’re here to help you and your pup live your best lives, so if you still have questions about our soothing balms or applying them to your pet, check out our helpful FAQ page. It’s likely that someone has already asked the question you’re pondering right now!
If you can’t find the answer to your questions in our FAQ, feel free to reach out to our customer service team anytime for advice from the experts.