A puppy’s first grooming session is an exciting time. It may feel a bit silly to make a big deal out of it, but just like humans, dogs associate first experiences as either good or bad, so the first grooming experience has to be done just right.
Don’t make the mistake of not easing your pup into his first grooming session, especially if you don’t want him struggling each time he gets groomed. Every pet parent wants their puppy’s experience to be good. If you want the same thing for your furry pal, you need to start building his comfort levels around the grooming studio.
For your canine’s first grooming session, here are the points you need to be familiar with, according to a pet food delivery service.
You need to introduce the grooming process slowly. Don’t attempt to let your pup get accustomed to everything at once. At first, your pup will feel uncomfortable, but don’t let this stop you – persist gently and often.
Try to book your pup’s first grooming session when he is between 16-20 weeks of age. Once you have a date set, your job to make gradual introductions sets in. Do the following:
- Start playing with the different areas of your pup’s body, focusing on those that will get touched during grooming. These may include the ears, tail, and the bottom of the feet.
- Once your pup starts to relax, give him treats to encourage the behavior. This will show him that human hands are nice and won’t hurt him.
Your pup also needs to get used to bathing. If you plan on simply taking him out the yard and turning the hose on him, don’t! This will only scare off your pup and develop water trauma. Consider these tips:
- Use tap water that is slightly warm and not too hot to burn your pup’s skin. If your dog can fit in a sink, you can bathe him there.
- For your pup’s first bathing session, you don’t need to bathe his entire body right away. Do his foot or leg for the first time and give him plenty of treats. It’ll be easier if you have someone who can help you to keep your pup steady throughout the bathing process.
- Make sure that you have a towel ready so that your pup doesn’t get cold. Use the towel to dry him off.
- Preferably, make your dog get used to a blow dryer. Turn it on near your pup at first and allow him to become accustomed to it. Then, let the air hit his back or leg from a distance, gradually moving the blow dryer closer.
Once your canine pal gets used to your touch and to someone manipulating his body, you can start to work on brushing him. Introduce the brush to your pup by letting him sniff it, then provide some treats so that he’ll make a positive association with it.
Follow these simple steps:
- Let your pup sniff the brush repeatedly then let him touch it.
- Give your dog’s hair one stroke using the brush then let him sniff it again.
- If your dog doesn’t react negatively with the brush touching his fur, give him a treat.
- Repeat the process and gradually make each brush stroke longer until your dog feels comfortable with you brushing his fur.
A pedicure is also important for dogs. Long nails may break and hurt your canine or result in infection. To begin:
- Pick up one of your pup’s paws then gently hold it for several seconds, while touching his toes and nails.
- Give a delicious treat.
- Repeat the process until you can hold your pup’s paw for a few minutes.
- Once your pup becomes comfortable with you holding the paw, you can start integrating the clippers. Hold the clippers close to your dog’s nail then give him a treat.
- Once your pup becomes comfortable with the clippers, try trimming one nail or two.
Developing Trust With the Groomer
Initially, find a place close to where you live that is familiar with grooming puppies. As much as possible, during the grooming session, ask to stay with your dog the entire time. Let your pup see that you’re interacting with the groomer so that your pal can feel at ease.
A good groomer would try to establish a conversation with you and play with your pup before doing the work. Your goal is to establish the groomer as someone your furry pal can trust. Make sure you choose a groomer who’s considerate of a pup’s first grooming session.
Other things you should check with your groomer are:
- Grooming clippers with low noise to avoid scaring the pup during the trim
- No harsh restraints on the grooming table
- Giving treats along the way to reward the pup for going through a new experience
Don’t rush the process
Bear in mind that making your pet get used to grooming takes patience. Don’t rush things as you’ll only scare off your dog and leave him with a bad experience. With the excellent training you’ve given your canine pal when it comes to bathing, brushing, and nail trimming, he’ll have more success in adapting. Give your pup enough time so that he’ll see grooming as a pleasure and not a battle.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.