Bringing home a puppy can be a little overwhelming. They might be cute and fluffy now with that wonderful habit of sleeping through most of the day but as they grow, you’re going to have plenty of challenges to face. This will need some advance planning to make sure they’re ready for the world. They need socialising, training in basic manners, and their initial vet care. It might be quite easy to keep them nice and clean when they’re only allowed to play in the garden but once they’ve had their vaccinations and can explore outside, they’re going to be getting muckier and bigger as they grow so your workload increases gradually.
Puppy grooming is something you should think about early on, no matter what breed you have. If you don’t want a lifetime of battling a fully-grown dog every time they have muddy paws or need a nail trim then preparing them for haircuts, baths and whatever else they may need is just as important as learning how to walk nicely on lead.
When Should Puppies Get Their First Haircut?
A puppy can start going to the groomers as soon as they’re fully vaccinated so most will be ready to visit between ten and twelve weeks old. Most groomers will deliver a service that is known as a puppy groom and is a little bit different from the sessions an adult dog will have with a professional groomer. Before their coat is fully grown in, cutting it too soon can damage the fur and impact their adult coat as it grows in, so groomers don’t recommend cutting it earlier. With certain breeds like cockapoo puppy grooming, cutting the coat short too soon before their thicker adult coat comes in can lead to a problematic coat that needs even more maintenance in the future.
The first sessions are usually short, introductory sessions but once your four-legged friend’s adult coat grows in they can start having regular appointments. Long and curly coated breeds that need regular maintenance will usually be ready for their first full groom between the age of six and eight months when their coats have properly developed, but your groomer will tell you when they’re ready.
What Does a First Groom Involve?
A first groom, or a puppy groom, will usually consist of the first two or three sessions before your puppy is ready to start receiving full grooms. While some owners still believe that grooming is a luxury, many dogs need all the help they can get with keeping their coats in the best condition they can and keeping it free of mats and dead, shed fur.
A puppy’s first visit to the groomers will usually be an introductory session. They will meet staff, stand on the grooming table and usually get lots of fusses and treats. The next few sessions will be a gradual increase of handling like cleaning their eyes and ears and giving them a little bath. These will happen in a normal grooming session, but they’re spread over a few so your pup can get used to being away from you and learn to accept or enjoy all the attention they get.
Can You Groom Your Puppy at Home?
Any work you’re able to put in at home to help get your little bundle of fluff ready for their grooming visits will help them to enjoy their future salon visits. If you leave any grooming until they’re six months of age and ready for their first full groom, you may just cause a panic with a stranger doing lots of things to them that are entirely alien. A puppy is in a socialisation period between the age of three to fourteen weeks. That means they only have one or two weeks left when they’re ready for their first grooming visit which is why doing things at home is actually an important part of getting them used to grooming.
During this period you can start to introduce them to different things that they will experience at a groomers, even if you don’t ever plan on doing a full groom at home yourself.
How to Get Your Puppy Ready For Grooming
Grooming your puppy at home is important whether you plan on taking them to the groomers or not, they need to get used to lots of different things just to help you later in their life be able to manage and take care of their needs.
Handling is a vital aspect of grooming that might be completely new to a young puppy. If you consider all the “hands-on” aspects of being at a groomer then you can start to get them used to these sensations. For smaller dogs, they’ll usually need to be lifted into the bath and onto the grooming table. You can practice by rewarding them for sitting on slightly raised surfaces to get them used to being handled while not on the ground.
Other aspects of handling include holding their face to trim their fur and picking up their feet to trim between their pads and clip their nails. Feet can be a sensitive area for many pups so start off gradually by lifting their paw and rewarding. You can increase handling around their feet until you can feel in between their pads and hold their nails for a few seconds while they keep still. The more practice you’re able to get in, the easier it will be on both your pooch and your groomer when it comes time to groom them. Getting them used to the sensation of being brushed should happen alongside this, but make sure you get the correct brush for their coat type.
The groomers can be a scary place if your puppy hasn’t experienced anything like it before. Making it as fun and normal as possible means getting them used to things that might be new or strange when they first visit. Most groomers are quite relaxing places, but there may be the occasional dog barking which is why early practice sessions are important to get them used to the environment.
Extra homework you can do is finding ways to get your pooch used to noises that might be more novel. If you blow dry your hair, your pup may just get used to the noise and explore the sensation it creates by rewarding them for being near you while you do it. For noises you may not be able to replicate around the house like clippers that may be used to cut their coat eventually, you can play noise desensitisation clips which can easily be found online for any noise.
Start off by playing these quietly while your pup has something like a Mcintyre's Dog Dental Chews for Puppies to occupy them and gradually increase the volume. In a few sessions, they will associate the noise of the clippers with good things and won’t have a panic when the groomer first uses them.
Get Them Used to Baths
Bathing a puppy at home will not only help you to keep them clean but it will mean you can bathe them later in life without a fuss. Getting them used to water soaking into their coat along with standing for periods while you lather them with shampoo is a vital skill if they’re going to be attending the groomers regularly. A wiggly puppy will need more restraining which can be quite stressful for them. If your pup goes to the groomers without being bathed before, then being washed and groomed by a stranger can be quite the shock.
When you’re starting out, you should introduce them to an empty bath or even try giving them something fun to do in there like licking peanut butter off a Smart Choice Lick Mat & Slow Feeder for Dogs. Once they’re used to the bath, introduce the water gradually until you can fully shampoo and rinse them with a shampoo that is mild enough for puppies like Furrish Pretty Puppy Shampoo.
If you can bathe your puppy at home, give them minor nail trims, clean their ears, eyes and teeth then by the time they’re ready for their first full groom, they will take it in their stride! You can book your puppy’s first groom with The Jolly Groomer and find all your puppy and dog essentials in store and online.