Grooming can sometimes be overlooked when it comes to establishing a routine for your new puppy, but grooming plays a crucial role in their development and lifelong well-being. Early grooming training should be part of a puppy’s routine life lessons, alongside basic obedience and socialization to develop a confident, social and well-adjusted adult dog.
Grooming plays a vital role in a puppy’s ongoing care and applies to pups of all coat types, even short haired breeds. Starting grooming as a positive experience from the beginning ensures that it becomes an enjoyable and relaxing time for both you and your dog. Avoiding grooming until your dog's coat is tangled and knotted can be painful for them, leading to a negative experience and causing distress during future grooming sessions.
Even if you plan on taking your dog to a professional groomer for their regular coat care or not, it’s still beneficial to initiate the grooming process at home. Whether your puppy has a double, silky, wool or wire coat, our Grooming by Breed guide on our website features the best grooming tools, specially selected to your puppy’s coat type, taking away the guess work to finding the perfect grooming accessories for your dog. Check out our guide for our insights on puppy grooming to give your pup the best start!
Why Early Grooming Matters
Early Handling and Bonding:
- Grooming sessions at home help to strengthen the bond between you and your puppy.
- Introducing grooming early in their development normalises the experience with brushing, bathing, and nail trimming helping them to build trust.
- Puppies become accustomed to different sensations, helping them to reduce any anxiety as they grow.
Health and Hygiene:
- Regular grooming, including nail trimming and brushing, is vital for health - preventing their coat from matting, skin infections, and discomfort from long nails or tangled fur.
- Grooming allows close examination of your dog’s skin, coat, ears, eyes, and teeth. The earlier issues are noticed enables for timely intervention for their overall health. (E.g. detecting grass seeds, wounds or parasites.)
- Grooming is a great time to condition score your dog too by feeling their ribs and waist through their coat to asses if they are maintaining a healthy body weight for their size.
Positive Reinforcement and Behavioural Benefits:
- Grooming sessions offer a chance for positive reinforcement training.
- Rewards for positive behaviour during and after grooming fosters patience and trust. This contributes to a puppy’s behavioural development and builds on strengthening the bond with you.
6 Simple Steps to Introduce Grooming to Your Puppy at Home
1. Start Slowly and Gently:
There’s no set time for when to start introducing your puppy to being groomed, but the first step for stress free grooming is to get them used to handling. Start by gently touching your puppy’s paws, between the toes, face, ears, legs and body regularly to help them become accustomed to being touched all over. Use positive reinforcement like treats and/or praise to associate grooming with a positive experience. This early handling practice will not only be important for grooming but also for when your puppy visits the vet too.
2. Keeping still:
Keeping a wriggly, active puppy still is a challenge, but simple commands like ‘sit’ and ‘paw’ will really help to pave the way for a calmer experience. You can gradually build up to holding the face steady under the chin or holding the paw for up to 30 seconds before giving a reward or praise so they learn to stay still and calm. You could build up to use a specific command like ‘wait’ so they understand not to move. This will help you or your groomer when it comes to trimming the delicate areas around the face, paws and during nail trimming.
3. Gradual Introduction of Tools:
When your puppy is comfortable with the handling process, start to introduce grooming tools like brushes, clippers and trimmers gradually. Let your puppy sniff and explore these tools while ensuring they are turned off to avoid startling noises. Don’t let your puppy bite them, although this may be tricky when they are in their teething stage! Try to distract their attention with a toy that they can safely chew instead to help keep them focused.
4. Positive Reinforcement:
Reward your puppy for calm behaviour during grooming sessions to instil that grooming means time to relax. Short, frequent sessions are more effective than long, overwhelming ones. Make it enjoyable by incorporating play before or after grooming to use up their energy elsewhere.
5. Consistency is Key:
Maintain a consistent grooming routine. This helps reinforce positive associations with grooming time and ensures your puppy remains comfortable with the process. Try to give them a short brushing session every day at a time when they are relaxed in a quiet area away from distractions.
6. Professional Guidance:
Whether you plan to take your dog to a grooming salon for their regular hair trim or not, taking your puppy for a few salon visits will be a great experience for you both. As soon as your puppy has had their immunisations, most salons will take puppies for the first grooms from 12 weeks old.
Professional dog groomers will be more than happy to give advice on which tools and products would be the most suitable for your dog’s coat type and may teach you some tips to help you keep your pup’s coat in the best condition between salon visits.
Even If you don’t need to take your dog for regular salon sessions, puppy visits will still be a valuable experience for your pup as they are exposed to different people, sounds, and smells, contributing to their socialisation. This exposure helps build confidence and ensures your puppy is comfortable in various environments.
Tips for Specific Grooming Procedures
Nail Trimming and Filing:
- Regular nail maintenance is crucial for your pup’s comfort and mobility. Gradually introduce the sound and feeling of nail files and nail clippers to your puppy using the proper tools and techniques to avoid injuring the small blood vessel inside the nail (called the ‘quick’). If unsure, seek guidance from a professional groomer or veterinarian.
- Our Essentials Pet Grooming Set contains a small nail clipper and nail file along with a range of quintessential brushes and combs to provide your puppy with the perfect starter grooming kit.
Using Clippers and Trimmers:
- Start with quiet, low-vibration trimmers to ease your puppy into the experience. Our Showmate II cordless dog trimmer is the perfect choice! This pocket sized, ultra quiet trimmer will ensure your puppy isn’t startled and gets used the sounds and vibration of a trimmer easing them into the introduction of a larger clipper and as they grow. A trimmer will never be a wasted investment, as it will continue be handy for clipping the paws and pads, face, ears and sanitary areas when your puppy grows.
- Run the trimmers near to your puppy without actually trimming to familiarise them with the sound and vibrations. Their coat won’t need clipping until they are around 6 months old so there’s plenty of time to set the foundations. This is especially important for the many popular, non-shedding and hypoallergenic breeds, like doodles, that require consistent coat management throughout their lives.
Cockapoo groomed by @Pawfection by Zara using the Showmate II cordless trimmers
Brushing and Coat Maintenance:
- Choose a soft brush suitable for your puppy's fur type to gently remove loose fur and prevent matting. Our double-sided oval head brush has a combination of soft bristles and rounded pins to protect the skin and adapt to your dog’s changing coat as they grow.
- Our hair removal mitten is ideal for transitioning from the handling stage to using grooming tools and is perfect for removing loose hair as the adult coat comes through.
- Both tools are provided in our Essential Pets Grooming Set which has a range of grooming accessories suitable for all coat types and with regular use, promotes a healthy coat and reduces shedding.
Trimming with Grooming Scissors
- Scissors are used for detailed trimming and softening lines left by straight cutting. They are often used close to the eyes and paws so you can begin to introduce the feel of the cool metallic scissors by resting a metal spoon on your puppy’s face and paws and train them to keep still for short periods of time. When they are able to sit for longer sessions, you can introduce a pair of bull nose safety scissors with rounded ends, specially crafted for trimming the hair from these delicate areas.
- Getting your puppy used to bathing at home will also be a great advantage to their learning experience. A puppy’s skin is very sensitive so be sure to use a mild hypoallergenic puppy shampoo and avoid harsh chemicals that may irritate their delicate skin. This super sensitive formulation from Wildwash is our favourite. Made with all natural ingredients and a low foaming formulation ensures it is easy to rinse from the coat.
- Another great experience for your puppy is to get accustomed to the sound and feel of a drier. You can do this at home by getting them used to the sound of a hair drier or vacuum cleaner. Place treats or a lickit mat on the ground, close to the noise to keep them occupied and they’ll soon learn that the sound of a drier leads to positive rewards. You can then build up to using the hair drier to blow a gentle stream of cool air on your puppy to ruffle their coat.
Early Grooming Foundation
With plenty of patience, consistency and positive rewards, the daily grooming experience will soon become an enjoyable practice for your puppy, establishing a lifetime of stress-free grooming. However, if any difficulties arise or your puppy is finding the process daunting, seek guidance from a professional groomer or trainer.
At Masterclip, we have a wealth of experience, providing quality clippers, trimmers and grooming tools direct to home groomers and professional grooming salons. If you’re in need of any advice for selecting the right grooming tools for your puppy, please contact our friendly and knowledgeable team on 0116 2796900 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org.