We know how anxious and exciting it could be to groom your puppy for the first time, whether it's at home or a professional groomer. In this blog, our Mooresville vets explain why grooming your puppy is important and share ways you can make this task as stress-free as possible for you and your pooch.
Your First Time Grooming Your Puppy
Puppies have excellent memories and are able to easily remember their first experiences such as grooming, this is why it's critical to make their first grooming session as pleasant as possible.
Begin by making sure your puppy is comfortable with you touching their fur, nails, teeth, ears, and paws from a very early age, and do this as often as possible, before introducing them to a brush or other grooming equipment. 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.
As soon as your puppy is accustomed to being handled you can begin combing and brushing them at home, this even helps them get used to the tools a professional groomer may use (a brush and comb). Then when your young pup is approximately 16 weeks of age you can start giving them a full grooming session or take them to a professional groomer, this will be around the same time they finish getting all of their puppy vaccinations.
How to Groom Your Puppy at Home
As stated above you should get your puppy used to the grooming basics such as being near water and being touched when they are as young as possible, so when it's time to start grooming them they won't be as anxious or nervous.
Brushing Your Puppy
Below our vets have shared the steps to brushing your puppy at home:
- When your puppy is used to being held, touched, and exposed to water introduce the actual grooming process easily (not yanking and going immediately for the 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 friend 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 matt 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 their 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 your pooch has longer fur that tangles easily you should brush them every day to prevent mats and knots, otherwise, you can brush them approximately once a week.
Bathing Your Puppy
Here are the steps to giving your puppy a bath:
- 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.
We recommend bathing your puppy once a month unless they get themselves dirty and covered in mud, then you may have to bathe them more often. If your young pup's skin is sensitive you can wait a bit longer between baths, your veterinarian will also be able to tell you how often they suggest 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, if this is you, you can always have this task performed by a professional groomer because it's critical for your pup's health that it's completed correctly.
There are specific puppy haircuts for each breed and you can ask your veterinarian which cut you should give your pooch and which scissors you should use.
When you are clipping your puppy's nails use nail clippers designed for dogs and only cut little bits at a time leaving them a bit longer, because if you accidentally clip them too short your puppy will bleed and it will make them very uncomfortable. So if you don't think you can perform this task on your own have it done professionally. Puppies require more frequent nail trims than adult dogs, and the rate at which they grow depends on their breed so ask your vet how often your pup's nails should be clipped.
How to Help Your Puppy Stay Calm During Grooming
These are some tips on how you can keep your puppy as calm and relaxed as possible during your grooming session:
- 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
- Provide your puppy with treats and reward good behavior
- Start getting your puppy used to being touched, brushed, and wet as early as possible
- Stay calm and talk in a relaxing voice
- Establish a set grooming routine and schedule for your puppy
The Benefits of Puppy Grooming
There are many benefits of regularly grooming your dog here are just a few:
- Getting rid of mats that can cause your puppy pain and discomfort
- You can clear away dead skin and shed fur
- Your puppy will smell better
- Regular nail trims keep their claws from getting too long which could cause pain, bad posture, and bone deformations
- It provides you or a professional with the opportunity to find fleas, mites, or other skin conditions
- Your pooch looks and feels better in general