It is a very exciting and challenging time when you bring a new puppy home. Now you have a special member of the family that comes with special responsibilities. You will find new routines happening in your home and you will be teaching your puppy the boundaries of the home. During those first few weeks of learning it is important to add at home grooming and table training to your list of things. A puppy that is not taught from an early age how to behave when being groomed can develop fear and anxiety related to grooming. Sometimes this can turn into aggression, which then can be dangerous for your pet and the groomer. To prevent this type of behavior, regular at home grooming is absolutely necessary.
Tools of the trade...
Depending on the breed of puppy you decided to bring home will depended on the tools you will need to purchase. We suggest when you make your first shopping trip for pet supplies to go ahead and pick up your at home grooming supplies so they are on stand by. If you have a puppy that will have a long coat they will need regular brushing and combing and you will want to purchase a slicker brush and a metal tooth comb.
These will help you to get close to the skin when brushing your puppy's coat. If you use improper tools for the job, your will not be able to get underneath the matting of the hair and although the coat may look brushed out, it wont be . This makes the grooming experiences even more difficult and stressful for your puppy. If you are not sure if you are brushing properly, speak with your groomer or watch a few tutorials online.
If your puppy has a shorter or a smooth coat you will want to purchase a rubber bristle brush, like the one shown below.
Location, Location, Location
After you have invested in the supplies that you will need for grooming your puppy, you will need to pick a location to groom them. This location should not be the same area where you have play times and snuggle times with your pet. It is ideal to have an area that they associate with grooming. You want your pet to know that while they are in the grooming area, it is not play time, it is time for business. Your pets grooming experiences don't have to be negative , however if they are not taught early on your pet can associate grooming with negative feelings and anxiety and the will have a lifetime of negative grooming experiences.
I have the tools and location...Now what
Start out with basic touch. It sounds silly but, pet your puppy, but maintain control. You don't want your petting to be playful however. Make sure that your puppy stands during your "grooming sessions". Correct it if it sits down by telling it no and making it stand. Touch and pet the areas that don't typically get touched. While standing touch the legs and the feet , if your puppy pulls away, correct them and tell them no. You can reward your puppy with small treats when it takes direction. Your grooming sessions don't have to take a long time, but you need to be patient. Stay relaxed. Your puppy will be able to read your energy and will mirror it. If you are excited, they will be excited. If you are anxious, your puppy will be anxious. Touch their face and make sure they hold still while you do. If they pull away, correct them. Brush them with your brush or comb and make corrections as needed. These things will go a long way when you start early and stay consistent . As your puppy gets older and their attention span gets longer, you will want to make their at home grooming sessions longer. When they are preforming well for the basics, build onto the training by flicking their toenails or using the base of an electric toothbrush and rubbing it on their paws and legs. These things will simulate sensations your puppy will feel while they are being grooming in a shop. An electric tooth brush will sound and feel something like clippers or a dermal groomers use to file nails. Flicking your pets toe nails will give a feeling like toe nail clippers on the nails.
How soon should I take my to a professional?
It is a good idea to start taking your puppy to the groomer very early on. We recommend a puppy grooming between 9 and 12 weeks. Your puppy won't receive a full haircut during this visit, but they will be exposed to the environment. They will typically get a tidy up around the sanitary areas and a nail trim. They will experience being on a grooming table and what it is like to be away from the house with out their pet parents. Even if your puppy will not require haircuts, regular nail trimming is a good habit to have. Most shops will offer nail trimming as a single service and doesn't require you to have your puppy bathed. Starting early doesn't just help your puppy get use to grooming, it also gets you adjusted to having regular grooming appointments.
Being a pet owner is a big responsibility and part of that responsibility is making sure that your pet is living a happy and healthy life. A happy pet is one that is not fearful and anxious about grooming , or worst aggressive while it is being groomed. Dogs that become to aggressive to groom may have to be sedated for grooming. No pet parent or groomer, wants a dog to be sedate for something like getting a haircut and the earlier you start the training of their life long commitment of grooming, the more likely this will not be the future for your puppy.