Getting your puppy groomed for the first time can be a mix of excitement and nerves, whether you're doing it yourself at home or taking your furry friend to a professional groomer. Our vets at Murfreesboro have compiled a helpful blog outlining the importance of grooming your puppy and providing tips.
The First Time You Groom Your Puppy
Because puppies have excellent memories, they easily remember their first experiences, including grooming. This is why making the initial session as stress-free and pleasant as possible is important.
To begin the grooming process for your young dog, getting them comfortable with touching their fur, paws, nails, ears, and teeth as early as possible is important. This should be done frequently before introducing them to a brush. You can also gradually introduce them to water by dipping their paws into a warm tub that only goes up to their paws, gradually increasing the water level. If you already have a puppy shampoo in mind or know what your professional groomer will be using, you can get your puppy used to its scent by letting them sniff it off your fingers or putting a small amount on their paws.
As soon as your young pooch is used to being handled, you can start brushing and combing them at home. This also gets them used to the tools a professional groomer might use (a brush and comb). Then when your puppy is about 16 weeks old, you can give them a full grooming session or bring them to a professional groomer. This will be around the same time they have received all of their scheduled puppy vaccinations.
How to Groom Your Puppy at Home
It is advisable to introduce your puppy to basic grooming tasks, such as being touched and getting wet, at an early age. This will help them feel more comfortable and less nervous during future grooming sessions.
Brushing Your Puppy
Here are the steps we recommend taking when you are brushing your puppy to help make the process more smooth:
- When your puppy is used to being held, touched, and exposed to water, you can easily introduce the actual grooming (not yanking and going immediately for the knots). Begin 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 roughly 5 days of getting your young pup used to the tools, slowly start grooming them.
- Implement a grooming routine and be consistent because puppies respond better to routines. Prior to grooming them, play with them first for a few minutes to associate the start of this routine with fun (it also makes your puppy tired and calmer for grooming). And select one quiet and calm location where you will groom them every time, 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 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 has their own needs for how often they have to be combed and brushed. If their fur is longer and gets tangled more easily, you should brush them every day to prevent knots and mats, otherwise, you can brush them once a week or so.
Bathing Your Puppy
Below we have listed the steps for giving your puppy a bath at home:
- 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. 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's not good for their skin.
- With a jug, hose, or pitcher, completely rinse off the shampoo until the water starts running clear.
- Gently pat your puppy down with a warm, dry towel. 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.
Preferably, it would be best if you were bathing your puppy once a month. If your pup gets dirty or/and is covered in mud, you may need to bathe them more often. If your pup's skin is sensitive, you can wait a little longer between bathing sessions. If you aren't sure how often you should be bathing your puppy, don't hesitate to ask your vet; they will inform you of your puppy's bathing needs.
Hair Cuts and Nail Clippings
We understand that cutting your puppy's fur or trimming their nails can be nerve-wracking. That's why we recommend taking your pup to a professional groomer who has the tools and expertise to perform these tasks safely and effectively. This is crucial for your furry friend's overall health and well-being.
Different breeds of puppies require specific haircuts, and you can consult your veterinarian for advice on the best cut for your dog and which scissors to use. When trimming your puppy's nails, make sure to use dog nail clippers and only cut a small amount at a time, leaving them slightly longer. If you accidentally cut too much, your puppy may experience discomfort and bleeding. If you're unsure about performing this task, it's best to have it done by a professional.
Keep in mind that puppies need their nails trimmed more frequently than adult dogs, and the rate of growth varies depending on the breed. To determine your puppy's specific nail clipping needs, talk to your vet.
Ways to Keep Your Puppy Calm During Grooming
We have some helpful tips on how to keep your puppy calm and relaxed during grooming:
- Stay calm and talk in a relaxing voice
- Start getting your puppy used to being touched, brushed, and wet as early as possible
- Play with them beforehand to calm them down and associate the start of a grooming session with playtime
- Establish a set grooming routine and schedule for your puppy
- Take breaks when needed and move at your puppy's pace
- Provide your puppy with treats and reward good behavior
The Benefits of Grooming Your Puppy
Here are some of the benefits of regularly grooming your puppy:
- Your pup looks and feels better in general
- It provides you or a professional with the opportunity to find fleas, mites, or other skin conditions
- Your puppy will smell better
- Getting rid of mats that can cause your puppy pain and discomfort
- You can clear away dead skin and shed fur
- Regular nail trims keep their claws from getting too long, which could cause pain, bad posture, and bone deformations.