There are a number of reasons for your dog to dislike brushing. Maybe he associates it with a bad grooming experience, or he was never acclimated to the process as a puppy. No matter what the cause of his brush aversion, though, you can slowly and steadily get him to tolerate the process. In fact, with the right strategy and attitude, you might even make brushing one of his favorite ways to spend time together.
Tip #1 - Start slowly -- really, really slowly. If your dog doesn't like being brushed, start by giving his coat a few quick brushes every day. Wait until he's distracted and content, like when he's relaxing in your lap. Run the brush through his fur just a few times without drawing attention to it, and keep petting and praising him all the while. Do this every day, gradually brushing for longer and longer each time.
Tip #2 - Distract your dog as you brush. For example, hold a treat in front of his face while you brush him for a few minutes, then give him the treat and praise him when you're finished. Doing this every time not only distracts him, but teaches him to associate brushing with rewards and positivity.
Tip #3 - Determine where your dog feels comfortable being brushed and start there, working your way toward problematic areas. For example, if your dog tolerates having his shoulders brushed but not his hindquarters, start at the front and gradually work your way back. Offer treats and use soothing, positive language as you get closer to the trouble spots to help keep him calm.
Tip #4 - Practice the techniques above for a few minutes a day, two to three days a week until your dog starts to tolerate it more and more. Over the course of the next two to three weeks, slowly increase the duration of your brushing sessions. For dogs who especially resist brushing, those two to three weeks could turn into several months, but you must remain positive and consistent throughout.
Warning: Dogs respond better to kindness and positivity than discipline. Don't try to force your dog to accept brushing by physically dominating or restraining him, or by scolding him when he resists. This will only compound your dog's hatred of being brushed. To teach him to tolerate the process, you have to gradually show him that brushing isn't a bad thing, and that he should associate it with reward.
By Tom Ryan
About the Author
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.