Puppy Grooming – The 9 ESSENTIAL Things You [Need] to Know

Puppy Cuts for Grooming Purposes

Puppy grooming is absolutely adorable and so exciting for new owners. Of course, we want to give them all the love and attention they deserve. Still, it is so important to remember that this is the time to train good habits in your puppy. Owners are already considering puppy pre-school behavior classes, but another essential activity to get your puppy used to is grooming.

Your dog’s fur will grow throughout its life, their teeth will develop tartar, and they will need baths, so it is essential that we out-train any fear, aggression, or anxiety associated with grooming while they are still young. 

Eight Essential Things You Need to Know About Puppy Grooming

The right age to start

While your puppy should not be groomed entirely before 10 to 12 weeks of age, we can start preparing them for the handling and physical touches involved in grooming from a very young age. 

Start outside of playtime by touching your puppy’s coat all over, lifting its paws and touching the pads and nails, touching inside the lip of their mouth, lifting the ears, and touching around them. 

Ensure that this process is rewarded with plenty of high-value treats to ensure your puppy associates this form of touching as a positive experience, and makes it far more likely they will enjoy or tolerate the actual grooming. 

Positive reinforcement through playtime

Right before you start the grooming procedure, it can be beneficial, to begin with, 10-15 minutes of playtime to ensure your puppy is feeling good and has burned off some energy before the grooming starts. 

Ensure you are teaching them commands and giving treat-based rewards during playtime to ensure your puppy will listen to your orders while grooming. 

Having the right tools

When it comes to grooming your dog, there are several different things that your puppy may need throughout its life such as coat trims, teeth brushing, baths, nail trims, or ear cleaning. 

All of these procedures will require different tools, and even within the tools you need for each category, they will differentiate based on size and breed. 

The most important thing is to always use a good quality tool for the job, as recommended by a veterinarian or groomer. You may start your puppy with a puppy kit of appropriate-sized nail clippers, combs, or brushes for their coat, dog shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, electric clippers, and an ear cleaner with cotton balls. You may need to update your kit as your puppy grows. 

The main difference in tools will come down to what coat type your puppy has. For example, a thin coat will require a fine-toothed comb, whereas a thick coat would be more suited to a wide-toothed comb. 

And for short hair, a curry brush will work best, while for long hair, a pin brush will be more suitable. A general multipurpose brush that can be used for most fur types is a slicker brush. If you are unsure of your puppy’s fur type and want to start grooming straight away, this may be a good option for you.

Having a routine

An essential part of training your dog to tolerate grooming is establishing a routine they understand and can follow. This can include consistent timing of the grooming, having a set area that they associate with the procedure, and of course, rewarding them with treats so that this experience is a positive one.

Your dog’s body language

When you adopt a puppy you should always become familiar with the dog’s body language and its meaning. Especially when a dog is being made to do something they don’t particularly love, we can notice anxiety and fearful aggressive behavior, which can be a dangerous situation for you and your pet. 

Of course, we can tell more obvious body language and understand that our dog is upset when they display growling or curling the lip. Still, more subtle signs may involve looking around excessively, licking the lips, or panting excessively. 

If your pet is showing these signs, take a break to help calm them down, give plenty of love and treats before attempting to begin again.

Bathing tips

Now for the first three months of your puppy’s life, you should resist using cleaning products such as shampoo and conditioner, instead use this time to get them used to the process of being bathed. Start gradually by running a warm, damp cloth over the coat, and even running some warm water at a later age. 

Once your puppy is three months of age, you can start using a specially formulated puppy shampoo diluted in warm water. Gently lather the product in the same direction as the fur growth, ensure you keep the soap away from the ears, nose. Finally, rinse all shampoo or conditioner used after the bath. 

Dental care tips

This can be the most challenging test for you and your puppy, as dogs do not generally enjoy people touching their mouths. The best advice is to start young and go very slow. Start by massaging the gums with your fingers during playtime. 

Then, when its adult teeth come in, you can begin introducing the dog toothpaste by massaging it onto the gums with your fingers. Eventually, you will be able to move to brushing with a puppy toothbrush and toothpaste. 

It is imperative to use dog toothpaste as human toothpaste can contain xylitol (a sweetener that can be fatal to dogs). 

Coat trim tips

You probably will not need to trim your puppy’s coat while they are very young, but you can get them used to the tools you will be using and the motion of using them. After they have had a bath and the fur is slightly damp is the best time for a coat trim. 

You can start to have your puppy sniff and investigate the dog clippers, rubbing them over their fur while they are off and then turning them on so they get used to the noise. Once they are familiar with the clippers, you can start at the back of the neck, working your way down to the rear leg on each side, repeating the process until completed. 

Our Top Puppy Grooming Tips

  • Go slow! Always gradually introduce the grooming tools to your puppy with plenty of positive reinforcement.
  • From a very early age, make sure your puppy is used to having its paws touched. Gently massage the feet and toes regularly.
  • If it is clear your puppy is not enjoying any grooming, take it back a step and begin with short sessions with plenty of treats.
  • Ensure you research or ask your veterinarian for grooming advice for the specific breed of your dog. 
  • There is not a recommended frequency of how often your puppy should be groomed. At first, it is most important just to get them used to the process. Then you will learn the frequency in which your dog requires grooming from experience. 
  • Trim tiny amounts of your puppy’s nails at a time. Cutting the quick can be a painful experience and make nail trims a scary experience.
  • To prevent getting shampoo in the eyes, you can apply an artificial tear lubricant to your puppy’s eyes before bathing. Speak to a veterinarian about how to apply safely without causing injury to the eye.

The Importance of Keeping a Puppy Groomed

There are many benefits to starting grooming early on and sticking to a regular routine for your puppy and the inevitable baths that they will need when puppies do what they do best – make a mess.

Dogs with long fur are especially prone to matting so regular brushing is a vital part of their grooming routine to ensure their hair stays silky and smooth. Even for dogs with short hair, regular brushing can minimize shedding and promote a healthy, shiny coat. 

When it comes to cleaning your dog’s ears it is advised to get advice from your veterinarian on how to do clean them without damaging the ears and how frequently. Over-cleansing the ears can sometimes increase the risk of infection and inflammation, and if done incorrectly can damage the eardrum. 

Benefits Associated With Grooming Your Puppy Regularly

Regular grooming can benefit your puppy’s overall health and comfort. Puppies can develop skin infections, ear infections, and plaque build-up on teeth when not groomed regularly. Keeping your puppy well-groomed can help you avoid expensive vet visits and keep your dog happy and healthy. 

At What Age Can I Start Grooming my Puppy?

Once your puppy is eight weeks of age, and ready to leave its mother you should let them settle into your home before introducing grooming tools. However, you can begin getting them used to being handled from a very young age, especially with their paws, ears, and mouths. 

Then, at about 10 weeks of age, you can start familiarising them with the grooming tools you have at home, just letting them see them and touching them so they know they are not scary. 

At 12 weeks of age, you can start with their first proper groom, either at home or a trusted groomer. A first puppy groom should consist of a bath, toothbrush, blow-dry, nail trim, and a slight coat trim (it is not recommended to give a full hair cut at the first groom). This should be taken as slow as you need to make sure your puppy is comfortable and happy.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Puppy Grooming

DO

  • Handle your puppy’s paws. 
  • Handle your puppy’s ears from a young age.
  • Brush your puppy often.
  • Give plenty of love and patience to your puppy when it comes to grooming.
  • Research the best groomer for you and provide clear communication about what you want.

DON’T

  • Scold your puppy when they are nervous to be groomed or go to the groomers in the car.
  • Have big emotional goodbyes when leaving your dog at the groomer, ensure they feel this is just a routine visit.

What You Need in Your Puppy Grooming Kit

  • Appropriate comb for your puppy’s hair length and type.
  • Puppy toothpaste and toothbrush.
  • Dog fur clippers (avoid using scissors at home for safety reasons).
  • Dog nail clippers and silver nitrate sticks (to stop bleeding in case you hit the quick).
  • Dog-specific ear cleaner and cotton balls.
  • Puppy shampoo and/or conditioner.
  • Warm fluffy towels for drying.

Happy Puppy Grooming!

Starting grooming at an early age will set your puppy up for a healthier, more comfortable, and stress-free lifestyle. So often, we find that our pets are absolutely terrified of certain activities. 

It is our responsibility as pet owners to help our pets feel comfortable and safe as best we can, and out-training bad or stress-fuelled behaviour as a puppy is the key to success. 

Once your puppy is used to the basics of grooming, you should have no problem tackling all the future grooming they will require as an adult, and who knows, it may even become their favorite activity!

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