As a new puppy owner it can feel overwhelming with all of the puppy related areas that you need to concentrate on, between training, schedules, socialising, vet visits etc there is a lot to keep on top of. One area that I think is often overlooked is grooming, and more importantly, helping a puppy become comfortable and confident with being handled and groomed.
Why is Grooming Important?
Grooming a puppy helps to maintain its coat and skin and it improves blood circulation. It also allows you to give your puppy a good check over for any unusual lumps, bumps or scratches. All breeds no matter what their coat type should be introduced to grooming and regularly groomed, from the fluffy cockapoo to the short-haired Labrador, grooming is important.
The long-haired fluffy breeds can suffer from matting if their coat is not looked after properly. Matting of the hair can be uncomfortable for the dog, it can cause the skin to tighten in certain areas, which may result in the dog being unhappy with being touched or handled.
Using a Professional Groomer
If you have a puppy that is likely to need regular grooming then I recommend booking them into a groomer for an initial puppy groom visit. Many groomers offer this service which will involve the puppy being introduced to the environment, it gives them a chance to get used to the sights and smells and experience a gentle wash and groom. I recommend doing research beforehand to ensure that you find a groomer who comes highly recommended and please be sure to check out their reviews and qualifications.
How to Get Your Puppy Used to Being Groomed
It's so important to take the time to help your puppy find the experience of being groomed, handled and checked over a pleasurable activity rather than something that they run away to avoid. I can't tell you how many dogs that I meet that are terrified at the sight of a brush.
I recommend checking out this video by Kikopup where she talks you through different ways to introduce a puppy or dog to being handled and groomed.
My Top Tips For Puppy Grooming
1. Pair the experience with something that your puppy likes, a good chew or a lickimat with their favourite toppings.
Keep the sessions short, for example, do one leg one evening and concentrate on the other leg another night. It doesn't have to happen in one go, break it into small achievable steps that your puppy can handle.
Do this frequently- set up grooming sessions just as you would take the time to do basic training. Spend 5 minutes working on handling consent, nail clipping, brushing etc.
Learn to read your dog's body language- pay attention to how your dog reacts to you during the session, do they flinch when you pick up the brush, do they go stiff when you look in an ear. All of this is information about how the dog is feeling. If you notice that they seem unhappy or less relaxed then end the session there and think about what changes you can make for the next time.