It can be both an exciting time and an anxious time when you groom your puppy for the first time either at home or at professional groomers. Today, our Johns Creek vets discuss the importance of grooming your puppy and provide you with tips on how you can make the process as stress-free as possible for both you and your new pup.
Grooming Your Puppy for the Frist Time
Puppies have excellent memories and will be able to easily remember their first experiences, even grooming. Because of this, it's critical that you try to make their first grooming session as stress-free and pleasant as possible.
Begin by giving your puppy a chance to get comfortable with having their fur, nails, teeth and ears touched from a very young age, even before you start introducing your puppy to brushing. You can also get your young dog used to to water by dipping their paws into a warm tub, slowly introducing more and more water each time you do so. If you know the kind of puppy shampoo that your professional groomer is likely to use, you can also help your puppy get used to the smell and feel by introducing them to a bit of the shampoo on your fingers or by rubbing a little 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 mentioned earlier, you should have your puppy adjusted to the basic process of grooming as soon as possible. This way, when it comes time to have your dog professionally groomed, they won't be quite as nervous or anxious.
Brushing Your Puppy
Here we have listed the steps for how you can brush your puppy at home:
- When your puppy is used to being touched, held and exposed to water, introduce them to the actual process of grooming gently (without yanking or going for any knots in their fur). Start by letting your puppy sniff their brush and then gently touch their fur with the brush so they can become adjusted to the feeling. Do this for about two minutes at a time, a few times each 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 begin brushing, start with their larger body parts like their back and sides and then gradually work your way to harder-to-reach places and more sensitive parts of their body like their belly and legs. If you come across a knot in their fur, don't yank on it. Place your hand on the skin and comb the knot with quick and firm 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 give your puppy a bath:
- Fill your tub, sink or a basin with a few inches of warm water.
- Wet their fur all over using a hose, jug or pitcher. Start to apply a specially formulated shampoo for puppies and lather it on their back, legs, armpits, belly and groin. Don't put any water or smapoo on their head or face though. This might irritate their eyes and mouth. Human shampoo can be quite bad for your dog's skin, so avoid using it at all.
- 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.
In an ideal case, you should be giving your puppy a bath about once each month unless your dog becomes excessively dirty. If this is the case, you may have to bathe your pup more frequently.If your dog has sensitive skin, you can also wait a bit longer between bathing sessions. You can also ask your vet about any recommendations they have about giving your puppy a bath.
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 take your puppy to a professional groomer for this task because it is essential for your furry companion's health that it is done right.
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 clipping your puppy's nails, use specific dog nail clippers to trim small bits of your pet's nails at a time. Err on the side of leaving your dog's nails a bit longer. If you accidentally cut your pup's nails too short, it will make them uncomfortable and they may bleed. If you don't think you are comfortable with this task, you can always have it done professionally. Puppies will require more frequent nail trims than dogs in their adult years. As well, the rate that their nails grow will depend on their breed and genetics. Ask your vet how often your dog's nails should be clipped.
How to Keep Your Puppy Calm During Grooming
These are some tips on how you can keep your puppy as calm and relaxed as possible during your grooming session:
- Stay calm and talk in a relaxing voice
- Provide your puppy with treats and reward good behavior
- Take breaks when needed and move at your puppy's pace
- 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
- Start getting your puppy used to being touched, brushed, and wet as early as possible
Benefits of Grooming Your Dog
There are many benefits of regularly grooming your dog here are just a few:
- Your pooch looks and feels better in general
- Your puppy will smell better
- It provides you or a professional with the opportunity to find fleas, mites, or other skin conditions
- Regular nail trims keep their claws from getting too long which could cause pain, bad posture, and bone deformations
- Getting rid of mats that can cause your puppy pain and discomfort
- You can clear away dead skin and shedding fur