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Grooming Puppies: When & How to Do It

Grooming your puppy can be a daunting task. There are many things to consider like when to start, what you'll need, and what needs to be done to ensure they are groomed properly. Our San Roque Pet Hospital vets can answer all those questions for you.

Puppies First Home Grooming

Now that you have your new puppy and they have had a few weeks to get used to this big world it is time to start thinking about your puppy's first at-home grooming. You are going to want to start introducing your puppy to grooming time at around 10-12 weeks old. To get your puppy for this, you are going to want to gently get them used to touch. Lift your puppy's paws, massaging its pads and the tips of its toes.

You might also want to reward your puppy during this time with small treats (like chicken or cheese). Your puppy should start to come to associate this attention with delicious rewards, he’s more likely to enjoy the procedure when it’s time for the actual grooming ritual.

When it comes time to groom your puppy, it is always best to do it right after playtime. If your puppy is tired it will settle down quickly and will be a lot easier to handle. This playtime can also be an extra treat for them as they get used to the grooming routine.

What You Need

Depending on your puppy, there are a few different things you will need to do your grooming at home. Puppies have so many different kinds of coats so, it will depend on their coat, and what type of brush you will need.

For example, if your puppy has a thin coat, they generally require a fine-toothed comb. If your puppy has a thick coat, you should invest in a wide-toothed version.

If you’re not sure which category your puppy falls into, choose a slicker brush. It’s a good multi-purpose brush that works well on most types of dog hair.

A brush is the only thing you will need when grooming your puppy at home, you should have a starter supply of:

  • Dog shampoo
  • Dog toothpaste
  • Dog toothbrush
  • Toenail clippers
  • Towels for drying
  • Electric clippers
  • Cotton balls (for cleaning out its ears)

What Needs to be Done

Four important things need to be done with grooming your puppy;

Dental Care: Your puppy probably is not going to like you sticking your hands into their mouths so this might not be easy at first. Your puppy will try to nibble on the toothbrush and possibly your hands as your doing this. But brushing is very important to your dog's oral health and daily brushing can prevent cavities and gingivitis.

Bathing: You want to make sure to bathe your dog when needed, like when they smell terrible but not to over-bathe them because that removes oils that are needed in your puppy's coat. When bathing your puppy treat them like an infant and make sure to test the water. If it is too warm for you, then it's too warm for your puppy. 

Nail Care: You must make your dog comfortable during this process. It might be easy to let them lick peanut butter as a treat the first few times to get them excited about grooming. When trimming their nails you want to be very careful not to cut too close to the quick. This can be very painful for your puppy. If your puppy has brown or black nails it back be hard to locate the quick, so try just taking off little bits at a time.

Trimming the Coat: It is best to cut your puppy's coat when it is damp, so after a bath. Puppies do not always need frequent trimmings but as they grow older they may need more, especially if your puppy has a thick coat. When trimming your puppy's coat you want to start from the back of the neck and work your way down to the legs. Just take a little bit off at a time because you do not want to over-trim your puppy's coat.

How to Keep a Puppy Calm During Grooming

One way to keep your puppy calm during grooming is to start by getting them used to being touched and handled. This can be done by gently petting and touching different parts of their body regularly. Additionally, using positive reinforcement techniques such as giving treats or praise during grooming sessions can help create a positive association with the experience for your puppy.

Make a Routine

It's important to add grooming into your puppy's schedule as early as possible to make sure they get used to it. If you wait too long this can be a stressful experience for your puppy. If you remember that your dog is a creature of habit, and when you're doing the grooming bring your dog to the same spot each time so they know how to react. For example, if you clean your dog in the kitchen make sure it continues to do so.

When to Bring Your Puppy for Professional Grooming

Puppies can typically start going to professional grooming appointments once they have received all their necessary vaccinations, which is usually around 12 weeks of age. It's important to consult with your veterinarian to ensure your puppy is healthy enough for grooming and to discuss any specific grooming needs or concerns before scheduling an appointment.

How Often You Should Groom Your Puppy

The frequency of grooming for your puppy will depend on their breed and coat type. Generally, puppies with longer or thicker coats will require more frequent grooming to prevent matting and tangles. It is recommended to brush your puppy at least 2-3 times a week to keep their coat healthy and free of debris.

As for taking your puppy to the groomers, it is recommended to schedule a professional grooming appointment every 4-6 weeks. This will help maintain their coat, trim their nails, clean their ears, and ensure they are looking and feeling their best. Regular grooming appointments can also help detect any skin issues or health concerns early on.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you think it is time for your puppy's grooming? Contact our Santa Barbara vets and we may be able to refer you to some groomers in the area.

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