Why Do Dogs Get Embarrassed After a Haircut?

by Stuart | Last Updated:   August 24, 2021

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Taking your dog to a groomer for a regular haircut is nothing short of a necessity. This is especially evident when the climate is sweltering!

Dogs are somewhat like children, in that grooming sessions can make them very uncomfortable. Dogs can especially become visibly upset, sheepish, and embarrassed after a haircut. Changes in behaviour of dogs is common after grooming. But, doggie brains are hard to pin down.

Dogs can become seemingly very embarrassed, but they don’t become full-on depressed after getting a haircut. 

Close up of dog embarrassed with hand over face sitting on bed

The Science Behind Dog Emotions 

Many animal behaviourists suggest that embarrassment is most likely too complex an emotion for dogs to possess. 

Dr. Terri Bright, Director of Behaviour Services in the Behavior Department at MSPCA/Angell in Boston explains about feelings of embarrassment in dogs: “For a dog to feel embarrassment, they would need to possess an overall sense of social norms and morals, which they don’t have in the same way humans do.

Since canines can’t disclose to us how they feel, we deduce their feelings by watching their non-verbal communication. A few canines acquire or potentially learn ‘submission’ signals, for example, yawning and head-turning, which might be depicted by people as being humiliated.”

Most dog owners believe their dogs definitely feel embarrassed.

Why Do Dogs Act Weird After a Haircut?

After your furry pal comes home from the grooming station and/or a haircut, it may begin to behave differently. Your dog might hide from you, look annoyed, and even seem angry at times! Some dogs may actually feel uncomfortable from their visit to the doggy salon.

This might be concerning, but it is actually normal dog behaviour after the haircut. There are several reasons why your dog acts a bit off. 

Here are a few explanations of why your dog acts a bit strange after a haircut.

  • Drastic change: After all, its haircut is a huge change that wasn’t anticipated, so your dog may feel a bit of discomfort. With all that hair gone, your dog might be feeling less like its old self, which can lead to some unusual behaviour. It can be as simple as the dog feeling a bit chillier or more sun on its skin from its depleted fur!
  • Your dog feels powerless: Because of the feeling of powerlessness during the actual grooming and clipping, your dog might feel slightly confused for the rest of the day or even a few days after its grooming session.
  • Uncomfortable feeling: There are chances that your dog might feel pretty strange and unsettled for at least a few days after the haircut. Some dogs may feel a bit odd while being brushed after the haircut as it can cause some itching or head shaking.
  • The owner’s reaction: It also depends on their owner’s reaction. If you laugh or are angry at the cut, it may strike negative feelings towards the dogs. Remember that your pooch has feelings. It will feel hurt if we laugh at or ignore them for their new look!

Signs Your Dog is Embarrassed

Generally, dogs will let you know they are embarrassed by how they carry themselves. In most cases, embarrassed dogs act very sheepishly and shy. They may have a tough time meeting your eyes.

There are other things to look out for, too. In the event that your canine is humiliated, it’s conceivable they’ll do a portion of these things also:

  • Tuck their tails
  • Walk funny or roll around
  • Exhibit submissive behaviour 
  • Change their posture 
  • Become anxious
  • Furrow their brows
  • Cower a little
  • Pin their ears down
  • Hide
  • Rolling around 

How Can I Comfort My Dog After a Haircut?

All dogs are different and that’s pretty clear from all the different ways they look, sound, and behave. As a result, some dogs are more likely to feel embarrassed than others. If your dog is feeling embarrassed, it might exhibit signs of distress or anger. 

Here are some ways to alleviate your dog’s embarrassment, especially with regards to regular haircuts he/she needs to have. 

  • Go to the groomer with your dog: When you go to get your dog a haircut, you shouldn’t merely drop them off and leave. Stick around, watch and encourage your dog throughout the process (with the permission of the groomer of course). Doing this will also help ensure you get the haircut you wanted. Moreover, it will make sure your dog knows you love them and support the new look and prevent any feelings of abandonment during the grooming session.
  • Don’t rush: If your dog’s haircut is done slowly, with patience, a gentle touch and with lots of treats, your dog can learn to love being groomed. It can be a relaxing and bonding experience rather than something you both dread.
  • Let them go to their safe zone: Don’t make your dog go to their crate if they’re behaving badly due to their embarrassment. Comfort your poor, embarrassed dog. If they’re going to hide, teach them to go to their safe space (wherever that may be) to do so.
  • Choose the right groomer: If you use a groomer make sure that you choose the right one. Take the time to do your research. Ensure that the groomer has a gentle, kind, and positive approach. Some groomers specifically work with nervous dogs.  They may allow longer appointment times or arrange with you to groom your dog in multiple short sessions.  You want them to help your dog feel more comfortable during the grooming session.
  • Introduce grooming sessions right from the start: It is important to introduce regular grooming sessions right from the beginning, in puppyhood. It will need to be introduced very gradually and should always be done using positive reinforcement with lots of treats. Turn a grooming session into a bonding exercise between you and your dog.
  • Give your dog love and appreciation: Give your dog love and attention to help them get over their embarrassed feeling. Give them lots of pats and their favourite treats.
  • Bring your dog’s favourite toy: Consider bringing your dog’s favourite toy to the groomer to have your dog feel comfortable. This is important especially if your dog doesn’t know the groomer yet.
  • Counter-conditioning might work: You can prepare your dog in advance to ward off the anxiety it might feel earlier. Your dog is far more likely to be calm and happy after the haircut if its levels of anxiety are low anyways.

Wrapping Up

As a pet parent, you know dogs can feel all kinds of emotions including happiness, embarrassment, humiliation, anger, frustration, and even guilt. 

When it comes to your dog’s haircut, you need to ensure that your fur buddy is comfortable and feels safe the entire time. If your dog feels a bit off after, there are ways to cheer it up and have your pooch back to normal! If you think you are observing embarrassment, you should support your pets so they don’t have to experience the stress and discomfort that they may be feeling.

Whether your furry companion looks great in its new haircut or not, that certainly won’t change how much you love them! And that’s truly something great.

If you want to share your tips and experiences when grooming a dog, then comment below. Your thoughts are much appreciated.

Stuart loves blogging about his hobbies and passions. Sir Doggie is a place for him to share what he learns while being a pet parent. Click here to read more.
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