Want to set your puppy up for success? Here are five things you can do at home to ensure that your puppy has a lifetime of safe and positive experiences at the groomer.
- Touch and hold their feet. Several times a day, start by briefly touching each foot, then rewarding with a treat. Move on to holding each paw for several seconds before rewarding. The goal is to be able to trim their nails without upsetting them. Most dogs will accept having their feet handled if you start working with them at a young enough age. If you are concerned about cutting the nails too short, most groomers offer walk in nail trims, but even just holding your puppy’s feet for up to 30 seconds several times a day will help them tolerate nail trimming.
- Introduce your puppy to brushing and combing the same way. Even if they have short hair, they are likely to shed when they get older, and trying to brush them while they are biting the brush can be dangerous. Generally, the younger a puppy is when introduced to new things, such as a brush, the better they will adapt.
- Don’t stop brushing if they try to bite! If you do, they learn that biting stops the thing they hate, which is never a good lesson for a dog to learn. If you continue to brush them even while they are nibbling on you, they will learn that biting is useless and will usually come to the accept brushing without any fuss.
- Get them used to vibrations and loud noises. Keep them in the bathroom with you when you blow dry your hair. Hold the handle of a battery-powered toothbrush or electric shaver next to their body so they can get used to the vibrations. After they allow you to do that, gradually get them used to the vibrations near their head. Wiggly, frightened puppies with sharp clipper blades or scissors near their eyes can be a dangerous combination. Getting them used to loud noises and vibrations will help prevent injuries.
- Handle their face. Many puppies resist having their faces held, but it is critical for safely trimming around their eyes, ears, and mouths. Hold their chin hair periodically and don’t let go until they stop trying to escape. Once they learn they can’t escape, they learn to trust that holding still won’t lead to injury.
With every step of this process, reward your puppy with treats. The more comfortable they can become with being handled before their first trip to the groomer, they more likely they are to have a lifelong positive association with grooming.