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When Should I Start Grooming My Puppy?

When Should I Start Grooming My Puppy?

It’s a great idea to get your puppy introduced to grooming as soon as possible. Whether you will be grooming your puppy yourself, or taking them to a groomer, there are many steps you can take to ensure the dog has a good experience, and behaves well on the table. 

The Introduction Stage:

You can start introducing your puppy to grooming as soon as you bring them home. You can spend the early days teaching your puppy to get used to being brushed, by brushing daily with a gentle brush such as a pin brush, or a puppy slicker brush. Bristle brushes can be used initially, however once your dog's coat starts to grow longer, the bristles wont be able to reach far enough into the coat to prevent knots. 

Playing with and holding your dogs paws is a great way to get them used to having their feet touched from a young age. This will help tremendously in the grooming process when you need to clip nails, shave paw pads, groom their legs and shape their feet. It can be very difficult to groom a dog that doesn't like their feet being touched. You can also get them used to the sound of the nail clipper by opening and closing the clippers around them. Let them see and smell the clipper to become familiar with them. Once they seem comfortable you can hold their paw as you open and close the nail clipper, but don't cut their nails yet. Do this over a few days so they understand the nail clipper near their paw is not a threat. Once they seem comfortable and relaxed with that, you can clip their nails for the first time. Read our guide: How to Clip your Dogs Nails, for more information. 

Another great thing to start getting them used to is their face being touched and held. While grooming a dog's face, you need the dog to keep very still, otherwise it can be quite dangerous. Scissors are most commonly used on the face, and can result in injuries if the dog suddenly moves while you are scissoring. It is very important to train your dog to keep still during this process. You can start by touching their face often, remembering to brush their head, ears, cheeks and chin during your brushing routine. A small slicker brush is great for these areas. While you are brushing their face, you can hold the hair under their chin to keep them steady. They may try to pull away when you do this, but you can let them pull. You must not pull back, however. They will not pull hard enough to hurt themselves, but they will learn they can't get out of this process. Make sure to give them praise when they are not pulling and are still. Talk to them often during this process to make sure they are comfortable. You can also get them used to the noise of the scissors, by holding the fur under their chin and opening and closing the scissors around their head. Make sure you don't go close enough that they could hurt themselves if they move. Again, make sure you give lots of praise when they are still. 

For a high quality groom, you will need to wash and blow dry your dog's coat before clipping. It's good to get your dogs into a bathing routine and get them used to the process from a young age. It is personal preference but every 1-4 weeks is recommended to maintain your dog's coat. They should be washed at the very least, once every 3 months. While your puppy is still young, it is important to use a mild shampoo, either a hypoallergenic shampoo or a shampoo formulated specifically for puppies. Using a shampoo that is too harsh or strongly scented can make your puppy itchy. Puppy shampoo is generally also tearless, so if your puppy won't stay still when you're washing the face, it won't hurt their eyes if a bit of shampoo accidentally gets in there. Dryers can be loud and scary, so it's a good idea to get them used to the noise from a young age. You can get them used to the noise by having them in the room while you blow-dry your hair, and lightly blow drying them after the bath on a low heat and speed setting. You can also use Happy Hoodies to reduce the noise and protect their little ears. 

Clipping Your Puppies Coat For The First Time

Many people wonder when they should give their puppies their first proper haircut. There really is no one set answer, as all puppies are different. A full groom should never be attempted without first getting your puppy used to the process in the steps above. When puppies are young, they will have a puppy coat that is softer and can sometimes be a different colour than their adult coat will be. Most dogs have a primary and secondary coat, (also known as guard coat and undercoat). Young puppies typically only have the softer undercoat, and it takes time for the guard coat to come through. Most breeds develop their thicker, longer coat around 6-8 months of age. If you clip your dog's coat before it has fully developed the guard coat, it can impact the quality of the guard hairs and result in a problematic coat in adulthood. For this reason, it is best to wait until your puppies coat has fully developed before clipping. Before the first clip, it is important to get your puppy used to the noise and vibration of the clipper. You can do this by having them on a secure surface such as a grooming table, turning the clipper on, and hovering the clipper over their body and head. Once they seem comfortable enough, you can place the clipper on the back of their coat so they can feel the vibration. You can take the blade off if you are worried about accidentally clipping your dog's coat, but be careful not to get the coat caught in the moving parts. It can be helpful to hold your hand over the moving parts to ensure no hair can get caught. Once your puppy is old enough, and prepared enough to be clipped, you can start your first groom! If you would like more tips on the grooming process, check out our article: 4 Steps for Successful Grooming.