Grooming Your Puppy For The First Time

Bringing home a new puppy is such an exciting time but can become stressful when it comes to getting them used to being groomed. Our Lakewood vets discuss how you can make this experience as stress-free as possible.

Grooming Your Puppy for the First Time

Your puppy has a keen memory and they will remember even the earliest of experiences. Their first grooming session will form the foundation for their lifelong grooming experiences, so you want to make this as 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 mentioned earlier, your puppy needs to be adjusted to the grooming process such as being touched and being around water as early as possible so when it comes to getting them properly groomed there will be less anxiety.

Brushing Your Puppy

Here we have listed the steps for how you can brush your puppy at home:

  1. Once your puppy is used to being touched, held, and having water around them, now it's time to get them used to the grooming process (brushing, but not yanking on their fur and going after any knots). Start by letting them smell the brush and gently touch your puppy with the brush so they can get used to the feeling of the brush on their fur. Do this for about two minutes at a time several times a day.
  2. After about 5 days of getting your puppy used to the brush and comb, slowly begin grooming them.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 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 get your puppy used to being bathed:

  1. Fill a tub, sink, or basin with a few inches of warm water.
  2. 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.
  3. Thoroughly rinse off the shampoo, until the water starts running clear using a jug, hose, or pitcher.
  4. 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 once a month unless your puppy gets dirty and covered in mud, 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 may not trust themselves when it comes to cutting their puppy's nails and fur. If you are nervous about doing this yourself, professional groomers are specifically trained to perform these tasks while ensuring your dog's safety.

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 use specific dog nail clippers and only cut little bits at a time leaving them a bit longer because if you accidentally cut them too short your puppy will bleed and it will make them very uncomfortable. So if you do not think you can perform this task 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 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:

  • Start getting your puppy used to being touched, brushed, and wet as early as possible
  • 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:

  • Your puppy will smell better 
  • You can clear away dead skin and shed fur
  • 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
  • Your pooch looks and feels better in general

If your puppy is ready for their first checkup, contact our Lakewood vets so we can get them properly vaccinated so they can safely go to the groomer.