Awww! Did you just get a puppy? Congrats on the little furball! You must have so many questions, one of which we are uber-qualified to respond to. “When can I start getting my puppy groomed?” We are so glad you asked! This is an important question because it’s when you can establish a really great grooming routine that will be a normal part of your dog’s everyday life. Let’s find out why earlier is usually better.
By early, we mean once the puppy can be away from its mother long enough to go to the groomer’s and once the puppy is accustomed to its new home and owners. This is around the 12-16 week mark.
The importance of puppy grooming
If you’re unsure of the benefits of getting your dog groomed, check out our blog post about it. Puppy grooming isn’t just to make your furbaby look cute, it’s a necessity. Getting your dog used to grooming early on sets them up for a lifetime of successful pet grooming interactions.
It’s much easier to get a puppy acclimated to grooming than even a 6-month-old dog, who already has established fears and anxiety about new situations.
What puppy grooming looks like
Puppy grooming is meant to be an introduction to the world of grooming and the salon. To assure a successful experience, your groomer should take it nice and slow. A full haircut is not recommended during the first groom as it’s too much to ask of a puppy.
We recommend starting your puppy with just the basics. A bath, gentle drying, a nail trim, and a trim. For the trim, we want to get your puppy used to the sound and feel of the scissors and also the scissors by its face and paws. Puppies need to get used to standing still while being trimmed and not moving as this can be dangerous for both the groomer and puppy. If your puppy isn’t quite ready for a full groom the next time they come in, then we repeat this process until it is.
Your puppy also needs to learn to stand for extended periods of time for a full groom, and this is very difficult for a puppy. You wouldn’t ask your child to not play for an hour or more and you can’t expect that of your pup. This may seem too slow, but it sets your puppy up for grooming success for the rest of its life.
Getting your puppy ready for grooming
There are things that you can do well before your puppy ever gets to the salon. It’s the groomer’s job to get your puppy acclimated to the salon’s sights and sounds, but it’s the owner’s job to get the puppy used to being touched.
You want to gently handle your pup often so it’s used to getting touched in general. You want to make sure to touch its paws, teeth, nails, ears, legs, etc, to prepare it for grooming.
You want to brush your pup often, as well. This is a great bonding experience and teaches your puppy that getting brushed is a pleasant experience. You can ask your future groomer what type of brush is best for your puppy’s coat as different coats require different tools. You’ll want to praise your pup and use soothing language as well so that the entire experience is positive.
Make sure your puppy gets used to strangers by taking them to places they can interact. This might be a dog park or out in general where people are likely to take notice of your cute furbaby and get it accustomed attention.
To get your puppy used to getting wet in a bath, you can start by placing it in the tub and only having water go up to its paws. Then gradually increase the amount of water in the tub with each subsequent bath. You can also start to introduce your puppy to the smell of shampoos and conditioners, however, it is likely your puppy’s groomer will have different products than those you use at home.
Choosing a pet salon to get your puppy groomed
Your puppy’s first grooming is a very big step for it as it will leave an impression for the rest of its life. If it’s a positive grooming experience, your dog will be easy to groom. If it’s a poor experience, there may be a lifelong problem with grooming. (How’s that for being dramatic?)
When choosing a salon, you want one with a good reputation and knowledgeable, as well as properly trained, staff. At Grooming Girls, all of our staff are certified. If you’re unsure why that matters, check out this blog post.
You want to make sure the staff is caring at the salon and know what puppy grooming looks like since it’s different than a regular, full groom.
Look at reviews and then go visit the salon. You’re looking for a well-lit, clean salon that uses natural pet products and doesn’t use cage dryers, which can be dangerous.
Time for your puppy’s first grooming appointment!
This may be nerve-wracking for you, but if it is, you need to take a few deep, calming breaths because you want your puppy to be calm. If you’ve researched the salon and get a good vibe, then your puppy is in good hands.
Keep the goodbye short and sweet. If you’re calm, your puppy will be, too.
If there’s anything you want your groomer to know, now is the time to speak up. Maybe your puppy is particularly sensitive in a certain spot or really likes to be rubbed somewhere, let your groomer know. If you have treats that your puppy likes, you can also bring them in and give one to your puppy as you leave. All of this sets your puppy up for the most pleasant grooming experience possible.
Keep up good grooming habits in between grooming appointments
Teeth brushing is another item on your to-do list and must be done daily.
Never (ever!) use human products on a dog, ask your vet or groomer for doggy toothpaste recommendations.
Trimming nails may be a necessity in between appointments if they get uncomfortably long. However, you need to be properly trained by your vet or groomer before attempting this.
Getting your puppy groomed early, between 12 and 16 weeks, is ideal. You want your puppy to have a great first experience and get used to grooming as part of their daily lives. You want a knowledgeable groomer who cares and you want to do a few things before your puppy ever gets professionally groomed.
If you have any questions about your puppy’s grooming needs, give us a call at Grooming girls and we’d be happy to set up a consultation!