Pet grooming

Training your pet to enjoy bubbles and brushes

Training your pet to enjoy bubbles and brushes
Getting your pet comfortable on a grooming mat can help with the sometimes challenging task. (Photo by Pete Cruz)

Stephanie Zablah-KrugerCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Mar. 27, 2022) — Whether you have a long or short-haired cat, rabbit or dog, every pet will need to be groomed and bathed at some point.

Birds don’t hate baths, but they will need their flight feathers trimmed periodically.

I’ll start with ways to make brushing and bath time a little less awkward, followed by training steps to teach your pet that grooming isn’t all that bad.

Setting the stage

When I think of a spa, low lighting, candles, calming music, warm towels, oils, the smell of lavender and soft massaging touches come to mind. These are all tools to help us relax. Try to have a similar mindset when setting up the environment for your pet.

Use lavender scents to reduce stress and play calming music on almost any app on your phone. Spotify specifically has playlists to help reduce stress in dogs and cats.

Prevent slipping or sliding in the tub by placing a non-slip mat on the bottom, making the bathing process a lot less scary. Have a designated area where you will perform a brushing session and associate all good things in that area.

You can also smear a spreadable treat along the edge of the bathtub or use a silicone lick-mat with some peanut butter or cream cheese on it as a treat while they’re in the tub. For bunnies, try pureed apples, carrots or bananas.
Use a calm voice and a soothing, massaging touch. Our animals feed off our energy. If we bring an aura of stress and chaos into the picture, our animals become stressed as well.

Going to the mat

Mat training is an essential tool that you can use to your advantage. All good things happen on the mat, which can be transferred to the tub to help promote a calm environment.

Place grooming tools around the mat and gently introduce your pets to the necessary equipment. Here are some “reward points” to focus on as you work toward your goals:

• Lying on the mat no matter the location.
• Jumping in on their own when the mat is in the tub. Make sure there is a non-slip mat in the tub for this step.
• Interacting with grooming tools willingly.
• Brushing your pet with the non-bristle side and being handled. Handling is especially important for birds.

By slowly layering in each step, your pet will begin to enjoy the process for bathing and grooming.

You can contact Stephanie at or 510-408-7162. Visit the website for more information.

Stephanie Zablah-Kruger
Stephanie Zablah-Kruger

Animal behaviorist, Stephanie Zablah-Kruger, 37, has 14 years’ experience in the veterinary field and as a trainer. Reach her at, (510) 408-7162.