With a new puppy comes a lot of responsibility and one of the biggest responsibilities is taking care of your puppy’s health and appearance with regular grooming sessions.
While grooming your dog yourself can be challenging, there are things you can do at home to get your dog accustomed to the idea of grooming before hiring a professional service.
A puppy’s initial experience can set the stage for how he responds to being groomed for the rest of his life. To make the session as pleasant as possible, here are the 3 steps you need to take before your schedule your puppy’s first visit.
Step 1: Start at Home
Grooming can be stressful for a puppy who doesn’t know what to expect. To help ease that anxiety and the possibility of difficult behavior, get him used to the idea of grooming at home.
Because he’ll most likely be groomed on an elevated surface, start by putting your puppy on a table or on top of your washing machine. (Don’t leave him unattended and make sure he’s secured in some way to prevent falling.)
From there, practice handling your puppy the way the groomer will. Every day for a few weeks leading up to the appointment, take the time to:
- Run your hands up and down your dog’s legs
- Handle your dog’s ears, mouth, and face (specifically near the eyes)
- Brush your dog all over, including his legs, body, and face
- Wiggle and massage your dog’s toenails
- Gently hold your dog’s tail
If you have clippers or an electric toothbrush, you can also turn it on and put it near your puppy to get him acclimated to the noises he’ll likely hear during his grooming session.
Step 2: Schedule Grooming Early & Often
Many owners make the mistake of waiting too long for their puppy’s first grooming appointment.
Remember: The younger the puppy is, the easier it will be to train so as a general rule, puppies should be no more than 16 weeks old when they’re first groomed. Also, depending on the breed, waiting too long can lead to matting in your puppy’s hair, which can be traumatizing because he’ll most likely need to be shaved.
Your puppy’s first session should be short and sweet. Many groomers recommend sticking to the following services the first few visits before building up to a full cut down the road:
- Light brushing
- Nail trim
- Ear cleaning
- Light trim around the face
Step 3: Keep Up with Grooming at Home
After your dog is groomed, it’s typically 6-8 weeks until his next appointment. During that time, there are a few easy steps you can take to make the next grooming session go more smoothly.
No matter the breed, brushing your dog daily (or at least a few times a week) will reduce shedding, prevent matting, and preserve his haircut. Work brushing into your routine to keep you from having to invest in conditioning treatments, matting charges, and other expensive services down the road.
All dogs need their ears cleaned at least monthly, but if you have a dog with longer or heavier ears, more frequent ear cleaning is a good idea. Simply wet a cotton ball with ear-cleaning solution and clean the outside area first, gradually working your way towards the inner area. While it’s unsafe to use cotton swabs inside the ear canal, you can use them to gently clean inside the ear folds on the outer ear flaps.
If your dog’s nails get too long, it could cause him joint pain and medical issues, so keep an eye on them in between grooming’s. A good rule of thumb: Your dog’s nails should not touch the ground when he’s standing still. If you’re not up for trimming them yourself, frequent walks on concrete or filing them once every other week will help with this issue.
If approached the right way, these simple steps can help prepare your puppy and help to establish a trusting, lifelong relationship with their groomer, which will ensure their long-term health and happiness and your peace of mind for years to come.
Info obtained from woofies.com