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Grooming Puppies: When & How to Do It

Discover the joys and jitters of grooming your adorable puppy for the very first time, be it in the comfort of your own home or with the help of a professional groomer. Join us on our blog as our Tracy vets explain puppy grooming and share valuable tips for ensuring a seamless experience for everyone.

The First Time You Groom Your Puppy

Puppies have great memories, so they easily remember their first experiences, including grooming. That's why making the first grooming session stress-free and enjoyable is crucial. Here's how you can start preparing your young pup:

  • Familiarize your puppy with being touched: To make your puppy comfortable, gently touch their fur, paws, nails, ears, and teeth from a young age. Do this regularly before introducing them to a brush.
  • Introduce them to water gradually: Help your puppy get used to water by dipping their paws into a warm tub of water. Start with water level just above their paws and gradually increase it with each dip. This will acclimate them to being wet.
  • Familiarize them with shampoo scent: If you already have a preferred puppy shampoo or know what the professional groomer will use, let your puppy sniff it off your fingers or put a small amount on their paws. This helps them get used to the scent.
Once your puppy is comfortable with handling, you can begin brushing and combing them at home. This will also familiarize them with the tools a professional groomer might use, such as a brush and comb. When your puppy reaches around 16 weeks of age, which is typically when they have received all their scheduled vaccinations, you can either give them a full grooming session or take them to a professional groomer.

How to Groom Your Puppy at Home

To prepare your puppy for grooming, starting early and familiarizing them with basic grooming activities like being touched and getting wet is important. Doing this will make them less nervous or anxious when it's time for an actual grooming session.

Brushing Your Puppy

Here are the steps we recommend taking when you are brushing your puppy, to help make the process more smooth:

  1. When your puppy is used to being held, touched, and exposed to water, you can easily introduce the actual grooming (not yanking and going immediately for the knots). Begin by letting them sniff the brush and comb, then gently touch the brush to their fur so they can get adjusted to the feeling of the brush. Do this for about two minutes at a time several times a day.
  2. After roughly 5 days of getting your young pup used to the tools, slowly start grooming them.
  3. Implement a grooming routine and be consistent because puppies respond better to routines. Prior to grooming them, play with them first for a few minutes to associate the start of this routine with fun (it also makes your puppy tired and calmer for grooming). And select one quiet and calm location where you will groom them every time, such as a matt 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 more challenging to reach and more sensitive parts such as the 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 has their own needs for how often they have to be combed and brushed. If their fur is longer and gets tangled more easily, you should brush them every day to prevent knots and mats, otherwise, you can brush them once a week or so.

Bathing Your Puppy

Below we have listed the steps for giving your puppy a bath at home: 

  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. 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's not good for their skin.
  3. With a jug, hose, or pitcher, completely rinse off the shampoo, until the water starts running clear.
  4. Gently pat your puppy down with a warm, dry towel. 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.

Preferably, it would be best if you were bathing your puppy once a month. If your pup gets dirty or/and covered in mud, you may need to bathe them more often. If your pup's skin is sensitive you can wait a little longer between bathing sessions. If you aren't sure how often you should be bathing your puppy, don't hesitate to ask your vet; they will inform you of your puppy's bathing needs.

Hair Cuts and Nail Clippings

We understand that you might feel anxious about grooming tasks like cutting your puppy's fur or trimming their nails. That's why taking your pup to a professional groomer who can handle these tasks is a good idea. It's crucial for your puppy's health that these tasks are done correctly. Professional groomers have the necessary tools, training, and equipment to groom your dog safely.

Different dog breeds have specific haircuts for puppies, so it's a good idea to consult your veterinarian about the appropriate cut for your dog and the scissors you should use.

When it comes to clipping your puppy's nails, it's important to use dog nail clippers designed for that purpose. Take it slow and trim only small portions at a time, leaving them slightly longer. Cutting them too short can cause bleeding and discomfort for your puppy. If you're not confident in performing this task, it's best to have it done by a professional. Puppies generally need more frequent nail trims compared to adult dogs, and the frequency depends on their breed. Consult your vet to determine the specific nail clipping needs for your puppy.

Ways to Keep Your Puppy Calm During Grooming

Here we have provided some tips on how you can keep your puppy as relaxed and calm as possible while you are grooming them:

  • Stay calm and talk in a relaxing voice
  • Start getting your puppy used to being touched, brushed, and wet as early as possible
  • Play with them beforehand to calm them down and associate the start of a grooming session with playtime
  • Establish a set grooming routine and schedule for your puppy
  • Take breaks when needed and move at your puppy's pace
  • Provide your puppy with treats and reward good behavior

The Benefits of Grooming Your Puppy

Here are some of the benefits of regularly grooming your puppy:

  • Your pup looks and feels better in general 
  • It provides you or a professional with the opportunity to find fleas, mites, or other skin conditions
  • Your puppy will smell better
  • Getting rid of mats that can cause your puppy pain and discomfort
  • You can clear away dead skin and shed fur
  • Regular nail trims keep their claws from getting too long which could cause pain, bad posture, and bone deformations

    Suppose you have any questions about puppy grooming or need to schedule your puppy's first vaccination. Please get in touch with our Paws and Claws Veterinary Hospital today.

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