How To Set Your Puppy Up For Grooming Success
There are so many new things to do when you get a new puppy. You've purchased the leashes, collars, toys, food and a kennel. Maybe you've even signed up for puppy socialization or obedience classes. Don't forget that your new furry friend will also need regular grooming visits throughout their life. I've seen a lot of pets over the years and want to share 4 fool proof ways to ensure your puppy is set up for grooming success for a lifetime!
It’s important to introduce your puppy to grooming as early as possible. At Oak City Pets I begin accepting puppies at 12 weeks old as long as they’re current on their vaccines. It’s also recommended to introduce puppies slowly. We start off with a bath, nail trim, ear cleaning, and a gentle blow dry if they can tolerate it. Believe it or not, puppies even have to get accustomed to having a grooming loop around their neck (Remember how they reacted the first time you tried to walk them on a leash? It’s very similar). It’s important to build trust between a puppy and their groomer – don’t expect a complete haircut for several visits. After a couple successful bath visits your puppy may be ready to try a light neaten up on their face, feet, and bum. It’s crucial that steps aren’t rushed and that boundaries aren’t pushed too far. All of the trust that has been built can be ruined by forcing a puppy into a service they aren’t ready for. We use a lot of positive reinforcement after a puppy lets us complete something they weren’t keen about.
Stick with a regular grooming schedule and bring your puppy in frequently. Acclimating a puppy to a grooming routine is not an instantaneous process. Much like obedience training, puppies are trained to tolerate and enjoy grooming and that takes time and consistency. I generally recommend that puppies are seen every 2-3 weeks for several visits. The worst thing you can do is go too long between grooming visits or wait too long to bring your puppy in. Don’t think that grooming is stressful so it’s best to do it less frequently. That mindset will have the opposite effect on your dog's experiences. Instead of learning to enjoy grooming they will become fearful and may never adjust properly – be consistent!
Don’t Jump In Too Soon
Please don’t expect a perfect haircut for the first, second, and probably even the third visit. Remember to follow your groomer’s recommendations and don’t insist on a full haircut until your puppy is ready. This isn’t done out of laziness, it’s done with the best interest of your puppy in mind. Introducing so many new things to them in a strange environment is overwhelming. It’s possible to push their boundaries too far and create a negative experience that they will carry with them. Don’t insist that because your puppy does well for a bath at home that they will do well in the salon; it’s an entirely different experience!
The first several grooming visits are essentially grooming training sessions. I follow the same routine with all pets every time so they learn what to expect during my grooming process. It eliminates the element of surprise and provides pets with a sense of stability and trust. We always go on the table first for a nail trim, ear cleaning, sanitary clip, and brush out. After that we always go to the tub, get dried, and get finishing work complete. Providing them with a routine puts them at ease because they know what to expect and learn the process. You may notice that your pets adapt to your routine at home. Maybe they recognize when you’re headed to the treat drawer or they start getting excited around the time their dinner is usually served. It’s the same idea with training them with a grooming routine!