Puppy parents have a lot on their plate, from house training to teaching basic commands to caring for their pet’s diet and health needs. One thing all puppy parents should keep in mind is the grooming needs of their new dog.
Get an Early Start
Check with your vet to see when your puppy is ready for his or her first professional grooming session. The general rule is that puppies are ready to visit a grooming salon after their second round of vaccinations, but this may vary for your dog. An early start build’s confidence, and helps keep your dog’s skin, coat, ears and nails healthy!
Prepare Your Newbie Groomie
Prepare for your puppy’s first grooming session by becoming familiar with proper grooming techniques for your dog’s breed type. Begin a daily to weekly brushing and combing routine. This is particularly important for wavy to curly coated puppies because curly fur can become tangled and matted very quickly as it grows. Lift your puppy’s paws and handle his or her nails daily to help them become accustomed to the feeling of your groomer handling the paws while trimming the fur between the pads, and trimming the nails.
Shwoosh! Buzz! Introduce New Sights and Sounds
The sights and sounds of the grooming salon are all new to your puppy and can be startling at first. To help prepare your pup, turn on your hair blow dryer at home in the room near your puppy a few times a week. If your dog will need regular haircuts (true for poodles, doodles, bichons, malteses and shih tzu) turn on your hair or beard clippers in the room near them (or download a free clipper app on your phone and play it in the room with them). Many groomers use an electric nail filer or dremel that makes a buzzing sound. If you have one at home, run it in the room near your puppy so the sound becomes familiar.
Bye Mom and Dad! Puppy’s First Grooming Session
Just like kids on the first day of school, puppies react to the first grooming session in a variety of ways. Puppies may be overly active, super curious, fearful, or confident and relaxed. It may take a few sessions of “table training” for your pup to become comfortable with grooming tools and the salon environment. Keep an open mind and positive outlook about the results of the first haircut. It may not be perfect, but it will improve over time as your pup becomes used to having grooming tools moving around the eyes, nose, face and body. The point of the first session is to simply get your puppy comfortable with the grooming process. Plus, you want them to look as good as possible based on their coat condition and disposition for grooming!
A Puppy Grooming Star is Born!
There’s an old saying that “The difference between a dog who is groomed every 3 to 6 months (or less) and a dog groomed every 4 to 6 weeks, is one dog thinks it’s being punished, while the other thinks it’s a part of life.” Dogs who are groomed infrequently have a higher tendency to react to grooming with fear or aggression. Further, a coat that is left to grow long without proper grooming can result in matted fur and sores that develop on the skin (ouch!). Ungroomed fur can also harbor ticks and fleas (yikes!). Overgrown nails can grow in to a pup’s paw pads or cause other orthopedic problems. This can be stressful for you and your puppy, and it can also lead to expensive veterinarian bills.
Factoring your puppy’s grooming needs in to your budget, selecting a haircut length and styling that fits your finances and lifestyle, and scheduling regular grooming sessions every 4 to 6 weeks (for curly coated breeds) will make for an adorable pup who thinks grooming is just another part of life, and who is a happy and healthy member of your family.