The simple answer when it comes to what type of grooming you dog needs is that all dogs need to be groomed on a regular basis to keep them healthy and happy. Starting a routine when they are puppies is a vital step toward a long life of grooming. As anyone whose dog has rolled in something disgusting can attest, the clean-up process is much easier when your pooch is accustomed to baths!
To start, you should acclimate your puppy with being touched and handled. When you pet them and play with them, make sure to touch their ears, paws, tail, belly and muzzle, and practice lifting their lips so you can see their teeth.
If your pup shies away when you touch certain areas, pay particular attention to those spots. Keep practicing moving your hand close to him, praising him and rewarding him each time you can get closer. This should be done over a period of time, in brief sessions — puppies have very short attention spans.
When your puppy can tolerate being touched all over, work on getting him used to being rubbed down, using the same motion you’d use to towel dry a dog after a bath.
Once your pup is used to being touched and rubbed, you can start brushing her. Short, daily sessions full of praise and positive reinforcement are key. Choose a calm spot in your house and gently run the brush through her fur. At this age, if you encounter a stubborn tangle, trim it instead of yanking the brush through it. You want her to tolerate and even enjoy being brushed so when she’s older she doesn’t turn and run when you get out the combs.
Puppies don’t really need their nails to be trimmed right away, but again, it’s easier to get them used to it now than when they’re adults. Start by just gently squeezing your pup’s paws and toes so he gets used to the motions and the feeling of his feet being handled for trimming. When he’s used to that, trim one nail a tiny bit. Then give your puppy a treat and a break. Depending on how traumatic it was for the two of you, you might wait until the next day. Then, trim another nail, give your pup a treat and repeat the process until everyone’s used to it.
If it proves too difficult, getting your nails trimmed by a professional is fairly low cost and can reduce the stress between you and your dog.
Like everything else, acclimate your dog to tooth brushing by taking small steps. Get a puppy toothbrush (these are smaller and softer than the adult toothbrushes) and let your dog check it out. Let her sniff it, lick it and even chew on it. Then introduce her to toothpaste. Put a dab of toothpaste on your finger and let her sniff it and lick it. Gently and carefully rub it on her teeth. Squirt some on the toothbrush and let her lick at it. Once she’s done all of that, carefully put the toothbrush in her mouth and gently run it over her teeth and gums. Start in the easy places — the front teeth and canines — and over the next session or two, work your way to the back teeth. Be sure to heap praise and rewards on your pup during each step of this process to make it as positive as possible.
To teach your dog about baths, begin by plopping him in a tub with a small bit (an inch or so) of warm water. Let him get used to the feel of the water on his paws and belly and try to make it fun by putting some toys in the tub. Give him lots of praise and treats. After you’ve done this a couple of times, add more water, if your pup is bigger, and start getting them used to having water poured on them. Fill a cup and dribble a little bit on his legs and then the other parts of his body when he seems to tolerate it.
When he’s gotten used to that, you can introduce the sprayer (if you have one). At first, just hold the sprayer in a corner of the tub and spray it while giving your puppy a treat. Let him investigate the sprayer and when he seems to be used to it, you can begin working on getting him used to being sprayed down. Start with his feet and legs and then move on to the other parts of his body.
From there, you can move on to full baths, which should be a cinch after all the prep work you’ve done!
An occasional bath at a facility that has the right tools for bathing a dog can prevent stress between you and your dog, and unnecessary wear and tear on your home’s bathtub and drains.
Need a hand when it comes to grooming? PetU are happy to take care of your dog’s grooming needs. For a list of services, click here!