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Introducing Your Puppy To Grooming

Updated: Mar 14


Puppy Grooming

It’s such an exciting time, welcoming a new puppy into your home. With getting a pup comes a lot of new experiences and a lot of training! Dogs aren’t born with an understanding of the grooming process, no matter what breed and so, it's very important to ensure that you do everything you can to introduce your pup the correct way.


As a groomer we hear a lot about breeders telling owners that they don't need to get their dogs groomed until they’re 6 months old…i’m here to tell you that it is utter nonsense! As soon as your pup has all of its jabs, make sure you book an appointment with your dog groomer for puppy introductions. Here at Palmer’s Dog Grooming we offer our Puppy Academy which takes a nice gentle approach to grooming and offers our customers all of the correct tools, skills and knowledge to make puppy grooming a breeze! It’s an unnatural thing for a little pup to enter a new place and then have new sounds, feelings, smells and experiences. We advise that the first session in a salon is a nice, positive play session. We give lots of nice treats, bond with your pup and then introduce a few background noises such as the dryer. We use the Dyson hair dryers on young pups as these are gentle and quiet. At this point we always like to give our customers some homework, so that they can help with making the next session with the groomer as calm and stress free as possible. We then like to do a couple of bath and tidy sessions which help to continue the progression of their confidence before they are happy enough to have a full groom. The teaching process is not just in the salon though! Most of the hard work needs to be done at home and here's how:


Grooming Training

Brushing

Puppies are wriggly little creatures and at a young age will try and play with anything put in front of them. To start we recommend using a nice soft brush, at this point we are just introducing them to it and getting them to associate brushing as a positive thing. Place the brush on your dog and follow that up with a reward. We are basically doing something called “charging” the brush. This means that the more you do this, the more the dog looks at the brush as being this amazing thing which means treats! From touching we move to actually brushing the dog, always make sure that the treat comes after the brush makes contact with the body as we want the dog to associate the brush with the reward. Start brushing your dog and reward for good behaviour. Use a firm NO if your pup begins trying to bite the brush, wait until your pup is no longer biting before brushing again and rewarding, use lots of praise for allowing you to brush! Make sure you introduce the brush over the whole body.

Handling

During the grooming process your pup will need to get used to being handled in many different ways. In a salon we always groom on tables, so its a good idea to use a table in your home to train your pup on. When grooming your pup's face we tend to hold their chin hair, this isn’t to hurt them but it allows us to have good control over your dog's face for safety reasons. It’s another unnatural thing for dogs and so we need to train them to allow us to do this. Hold your dog's chin hair, give a treat and then let go. Do this until your dog associates the action of holding the chin with rewards, remember to only reward whilst holding the chin, not before or after. Now we need to increase the time your pup will allow us to hold that chin hair, we don't want to hurt them by pulling the hair, we want them to be able to stay nice and still whilst we work on their face. Start by using a command such as “wait” when holding the chin hair and start by holding for 3 seconds, treat and let go. Start increasing the time by a few seconds, if your pup starts to pull away or wriggle around, try as best as you can not to let go of your dog's chin. That doesn't mean you have to pull it, just move with the dog, repeat the wait command, wait until your dog stops wriggling before you treat. Your pup will also need to stand for periods whilst grooming. You can train this by showing your pup a treat in your left hand, if your pup is standing, use the command “stand” and treat. Remember to only give your dog the treat if it is standing. If your dog is sitting down, show the treat, say stand, then gently place your right hand under your dog's tummy, repeat the stand command as they stand up and treat right away. Once your dog understands the command we can work on “wait” just as we did with holding the chin. Get your dog in the stand position using your commands then say “wait” and give a treat after a few seconds of standing, you can then increase the time.

Your dogs will have to get used to us holding their feet so its a good idea to teach them to give paw. Once you've mastered this, you can up the time your pup will let you hold onto it’s paw gradually in the same way we used the “wait” command earlier. Scissors Having objects near your pup's face can be particularly daunting, use something blunt and metal such as a spoon to desensitise. You can hold your dog's chin, use your “wait” command and run the spoon over the face. Pay attention to the corners of the eyes, this can be a tricky area for us to trim with a squirmy pup. Build up your dogs tolerance levels as before, touch the corner of the eye with the spoon and treat, increase the amount you can move the spoon around the face gradually. Clippers

Clippers are particularly noisy and scary, if you have clippers in your home you can introduce them to your dog. Start by turning the clippers on and letting them get accustomed to the noise. If you don't have clippers you can also use an electric toothbrush. Once your dog is used to that, move to bringing the clippers closer and then eventually touching your dogs body. Use the same technique you used when introducing the brush, praise when the clippers are touching the body and move all over once your dog is comfortable.

Bathing

When bathing your dog, be sure to make it a nice calm experience. Do this at a time when you don’t need to rush. Fill your bath and sink a few inches with lukewarm water not hot and stand your pup in it. Give lots of reassuring words and treats, some may even like a favourite toy to play with. Use a jug to gently pour water over your dog, being careful to lift your dogs head when you get to their face to ensure you don’t get water down their nose. Use a good quality shampoo specifically made for dogs. Dogs have a different skin PH to humans so it is important to use the correct products. We recommend Milly’s as this contains natural ingredients and is hypoallergenic, you can find it in our store. Add some shampoo to a jug/empty bottle and mix with warm water, this makes it easier to apply. Work the shampoo into your pups coat thoroughly, ensuring you avoid the eyes and nose. Rinse well using the jug rather than a shower head at this is more gentle. You can then shampoo again if you feel your pup needs it. Once you have rinsed all of the shampoo out of the coat you can wrap your pup in a nice warm towel to dry off.

Dryer

This is one of the scariest parts of the grooming process for all pups so its really important to introduce it early and slowly. Try to avoid the temptation of blowing a hairdryer at your pup in a playful way, this can often have the reverse effect. In the early days just simply keep drying your own hair with your pup in the room, when you start drying give your dog a nice treat to chew on, they’ll associate the noise with good things. See if you can get closer to your pup but still don’t blow the dryer at them. Ensure you don’t reward behaviour which looks frightened. Once your pup is nice and calm around the dryer you can aim it towards them but do it from a good distance, reward calm behaviour, if they appear frightened, persevere for a moment to see if they relax, if not then go back a step but do keep trying. Bring the dryer closer and closer until your pup is happy with it over their body and face. The dryer is the hardest one to introduce so it may take a while before your dog is happy with it. Just remember not to rush through the steps.

The best way to make sure your pup is set up for a life of happy grooming is to ensure you start a good routine of regular grooming appointments as soon as your pup has had its first jabs. Your groomer can inform you if there’s certain areas your pup needs a little more work with building confidence. Remember we’re here to help!

Check out our blog “Coat types and correct equipment” to learn about the best tools and equipment for your breed. {Coming Soon!}





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