How to Get Your Dog to Tolerate Brushing

Every dog needs a good brushing now and then. Whether your pup’s fur is long and luxurious or short and stiff, regular brushing will help prevent tangles, clear dead fur and keep him healthy and happy. Not all dogs are immediately appreciative of being brushed, and some treat the situation as a life or death predicament. With the right approach, though, you can make brushing time enjoyable for both you and your furry friend.

Groomed Pekingese
Different breeds have different grooming needs.
credit: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Take it Slow

If your dog is not a big fan of being brushed, you will need to slow things down. Approach brushing in a positive, gentle manner, and do not expect to complete the entire process in one sitting. Take your time when introducing the brush; start slowly and gently so your pup develops positive feelings in association with your tools. If your dog starts getting anxious, take a break and start again in a few minutes.

Make it Positive

Brushing should be fun for both you and your dog. Keep your attitude upbeat and do not be rough with your dog. Develop positive associations with the brush by rewarding your dog with treats whenever the brush comes out. Your dog should see the brush and react with excitement, not with fear. Speak calmly and use soothing tones; if you feel yourself getting frustrated, give your pup a breather while you calm down.

One Brush at a Time

When you first start brushing, trade one brush stroke for one small treat. What you are trying to do here is show your dog that the brush is a very good thing, and that he should be happy you’ve brought it out. After a couple of brush-treat combos, extend the brushing time between treats. Eventually you will be able to brush one side of your pup, offer a quick treat, and then do the rest. Don’t expect your dog to go from hating the brush to loving it in just one session.

Use the Right Tools

One reason many dogs hate being brushed is that it can be painful if you are using the wrong tools. Short-haired dogs are more sensitive to wire brushes and may benefit more from a rubber brush. Long-haired pups often need pin brushes instead of shedding blades. Talk to a professional groomer for recommendations on the right brush for your specific dog breed and you may see an attitude change from your dog as a result.