Training Your Dog To LOVE Being Groomed

The most recent behaviour I have started working on with Ira our new puppy is being comfortable with the grooming table. We have only had two sessions on this and he is now standing on the table. To get him to do this, I am using shaping and a TINY bit of luring.

Training with puppies has often been done where the dog is simply placed on grooming table and expected to get used to it because he has no choice.

I am doing is differently because I want Ira to LOVE being on the grooming table.

It will simply be his choice to get on.

The Table

Ernie and I have DIY’d a low grooming table for him. I made the table originally for my first show dog Eli, and it was a full sized table. I purchased some folding table legs and some rubber matting from a local hardware store, and used a piece of 3/4 inch plywood that was already lying around from another project. This was done almost 15 years ago now!

To make it low, Ernie simply took the grinder to the legs, cut them down and reattached them. Unfortunately, he couldn’t figure out how to make them fold once they were cut, but that isn’t totally necessary for our purposes. Being a low table, it could be transported to a show just as is because the legs wouldn’t stick out too far anyway.

All you do is cut the plywood to the size you want, glue the rubber matting to the top with heavy duty glue, and attach the legs. This could be done for any sized table.

If your dog is worried about being up high on a table, a low grooming table would be ideal for beginning to train her.

The Table Training

Shaping really couldn’t be easier or more effective for training a puppy of a so-called “stubborn” breed (which actually just means independent and I don’t know how to train him).

This training will work with all puppies.

Have your puppy in the vicinity of the table you wish to train him on. Click/reward every time the dog looks at or sniffs the object.

Eventually your puppy will look at and sniff the object more and more simply because it is rewarding for him.

As your puppy interacts more with the table, start rewarding those interactions. Click/reward him for only those times that he actually nose touches the table, or stands closer to it, or puts his paw on it. It will be a different progression for every dog.

Once your dog is putting his front paws on the table readily you don’t need to click for nose touches anymore. In other words, don’t go backward in the training.

Keep the sessions short no matter if it is a puppy or a dog. Make sure your food rewards very small and are something the dog really enjoys.

Over several weeks work this way until you get the desired behaviour.

Never force your dog to do something she is afraid of. There is always a way to help her learn something without doing that.

Shaping works amazing well with all kinds of dogs. There will be some dogs who perhaps are not clicker savvy and may not offer behaviours, or some dogs who have been trained with corrections and are worried about doing something novel. In those cases the person training will need to go back and work on basic clicker training with the dog, without the added pressure of a specific behaviour like this.

Back To Ira

In order for him to get on the table easier, I added a training pedestal as a step to the table. (In my DIY playlist I have a tutorial on how to make the training pedestal).


Training proceeded the same as before except I did use a lure to get him on the step. He seemed to want to go sideways around it instead of step onto it. We did one session before this with the pedestal alone and he had no problem with it.

All in all the two sessions went very well. I will probably keep the step there for him even as he gets older (and much larger) so as to minimize pressure on his front end getting off the table. Right now we are doing a full groom once a month. That is another thing I will be discussing in future posts as I have found a way to have him love baths too!

We are also working on a low bathtub for him and two our our larger Aussies. Check back in November to see the DIY for that.

Happy Shaping and DIY-ing!

Other Things You Can DIY 😆

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