It can be both exciting and nerve-wracking to groom your puppy for the first time either at home or at professional groomers. Today, our Kennesaw vets discuss the importance of grooming your puppy and give you tips on making the process as stress-free as possible.
Grooming Your Puppy for the First Time
Dogs can have impressive memories, and first experiences stick with us all - including the puppy's first grooming session. To make subsequent grooming sessions less stressful, it's important to make the first grooming session as pleasant and stress-free as possible.
Start by getting your puppy comfortable with you touching their nails, fur, paws, teeth, and ears from as early of an age as possible, and do this all of the time, before introducing the brush. You can also get them used to water by dipping their paws into a warm tub of water that goes just above their paws, gradually introducing more water every time you try dipping them. If you already know the kind of puppy shampoo you or the professional groomer will be using let your puppy get used to the smell by letting them sniff it off your fingers or even by putting a little bit on their paws.
Once your puppy is used to being handled you can start brushing and combing them at home, this even gets them accustomed to the tools a professional groomer may use (a brush and comb). Then once your puppy is roughly 16 weeks old you can give them a full grooming session or take them to a professional groomer, this will be around the same time that they should be finished with their schedule of puppy vaccinations.
How to Groom Your Puppy at Home
As we said earlier you should get your puppy adjusted to the grooming basics such as being touched and being around water as early as possible, so when it comes time to groom them they won't be as nervous or anxious.
Brushing Your Puppy
Here we have listed the steps for how you can brush your puppy at home:
- Once your puppy has acclimated to being handled and having their fur wet, slowly and gently introduce the actual grooming process. Don't go straight for the big knots; start by letting them sniff the brush and comb then gently touch the brush to their fur so they can get adjusted to the feeling of the brush. Do this for about two minutes at a time several times a day.
- After about 5 days of getting your young canine companion used to the brush and comb, slowly begin grooming them.
- Implement a grooming routine and be consistent, puppies respond well to routines. Before grooming them, play with them first for a few minutes to associate the start of this routine with fun (it also makes them tired and calmer for grooming). And select one quiet and calm location where you will groom them such as a mat in the bathroom.
- When you start brushing begin with larger body parts such as the back and sides and gradually work your way to harder-to-reach and more sensitive parts such as the belly, head, and legs. If you come across a knot don't yank, place your hand on the skin (to prevent the tugging feeling), and comb the knot with firm, quick strokes.
Every puppy is different in terms of how often they have to be brushed and combed. If they have longer fur that gets tangled easily you should brush them daily to avoid knots and mats, otherwise, you can brush them once a week or so.
Bathing Your Puppy
Here is how you can bath your puppy:
- Fill a tub, sink, or basin with a few inches of warm water
- Thoroughly wet their fur all over (you can use a jug, hose, or pitcher) and apply a shampoo specially formulated for puppies and lather it all over their back, legs, armpits, belly, and groin, but do not put water or shampoo on their head or face because it can irritate places such as their eyes, mouth, and ears. Never use human shampoo on your dog because it is not good for your pup's skin.
- Thoroughly rinse off the shampoo, until the water starts running clear using a jug, hose, or pitcher.
- Gently pat your puppy down with a warm, dry towel and keep your puppy warm until they are completely dry. You can do this by keeping them in a warm room and providing them with a warm bed or blanket to lay on.
Ideally, you should bathe your puppy monthly unless they get particularly dirty; then you might have to bathe them more frequently. If your pup has sensitive skin you can wait a bit longer in between bathing sessions, you can also ask your veterinarian how often they recommend bathing your puppy.
Hair Cuts and Nail Clippings
Some people are nervous when it comes to clipping their puppy's nails or cutting their fur - and understandably so, especially if they've never done it before! If you're unsure about your dog-grooming abilities, taking your puppy to a professional groomer can be a great way to ensure that your.
There are specific puppy haircuts for each breed and you can ask your veterinarian about the cut you should give your pooch and which scissors you should use.
When you are clipping your puppy's nails, be patient and make sure to use specific dog nail clippers. Cut a little bit at a time, and err on the side of leaving them a bit longer; if you accidentally cut them too short you can cut the 'quick,' which can bleed and be painful for your puppy. If you're not comfortable safely performing the task yourself, have it done professionally.
How to Keep Your Puppy Calm During Grooming
Although simple, these tips can help you to keep your puppy as calm and relaxed as possible during your grooming session:
- Get your puppy accustomed to baths and water, being handled, and being brushed
- Stay calm and talk in a relaxing voice
- Provide your puppy with treats and reward good behavior
- Establish a set grooming routine and schedule for your puppy
- Play with them beforehand to calm them down and to associate the start of a grooming session with playtime
- Take breaks when needed and move at your puppy's pace
Benefits of Grooming Your Dog
There are many benefits of regularly grooming your dog here are just a few:
- A better-smelling puppy!
- Get rid of dead skin and shedding fur
- You (or your dog's groomer) can inspect your pet for fleas, mites, or other skin conditions
- Regular nail trims can help to prevent issues like pain and bad posture
- Getting rid of mats that can cause your puppy pain and discomfort
- Your dog probably feels a lot better - and they'll look better too!