Getting a new puppy means stocking up on a host of supplies, preparing your home and getting veterinarian appointments in order. Added to that list should be researching the grooming process and costs associated with it, as well as preparing your puppy for his or her first grooming.
At Pawsh, and at many other grooming salons, puppies must have their last round of vaccinations before they can be groomed (this is for their safety and the safety of all the dogs at the shop). The last round of shots typically occurs when your puppy reaches about 16 weeks. Because grooming shops can get very busy, book an appointment as soon as you know the date your dog will be receiving his/her last round of shots.
At your puppy’s first grooming appointment at Pawsh, your groomer will consult with you briefly, and will often recommend a “puppy’s first” appointment – bath, brush out, and face and paw trim (for long-haired breeds) – to get your dog accustomed to the grooming process. A more thorough hair cut should be scheduled for about three weeks later. You should also consider arranging for bath/clean-up appointments every two to four weeks for about three to four months thereafter in order to build a good foundation for positive grooming. Appointments can grow further apart as your puppy ages.
To make it the best possible experience for your puppy (so they will be willing to return), our groomers take cues from your dog and take the grooming at your puppy’s pace. Therefore, perfection cannot be expected at your puppy’s first groom but remember the foundation for the next decade plus of low-stress grooming is being laid out in these initial visits.
Also, for long-haired breeds, be prepared for your dog to possibly look very different after grooming. For instance, a curly dog’s hair may look much straighter right after grooming. Or if your puppy is on the older side (i.e. five to six months old) and it is his or her first hair cut, your puppy’s coat may look darker and/or more coarse as the groom will have removed most of the puppy fur, showing the adult coat coming through.
Before your first appointment
Before your dog even walks through the doors of the grooming salon though, there are a few things you can do at home to get your puppy prepared for the sensations of their first grooming experience:
- Play with your puppy’s feet – we recommend that owners get their dogs accustomed to having their paws touched. Hold their paws, touch their nails, and generally get your puppy used to his or her feet being handled. A dog’s paws are a sensitive area and the more they are used to them being touched, the easier it will be for your groomer to trim your puppy’s nails and the hair on top of their paws and in between their paw pads.
- Brush your puppy – even if it does not seem like your dog needs to be brushed, brush his or her hair at home, every day. Consistent brushing of your dog’s back, ears, feet, legs, tail (everywhere!) will get your puppy accustomed to the feeling and will help to prevent mats.
DO NOT stop brushing if your puppy tries to bite you. If you stop as soon as your dog growls, cries or tries to bite, you will reinforce that behavior and it will carry over to the groomer’s table. A tired or hungry puppy will be a more compliant puppy with grooming.
Try waiting until you puppy is tired and/or hungry to start a brushing session. Teach your puppy that being brushed is a part of everyday life and work your way up from shorter to longer sessions with lots of praise and rewards throughout. Use yummy treats as positive reinforcement when you have a successful brushing session.
Below are some grooming tools (brushes, combs and detangling sprays) recommended by the Pawsh staff for regular between grooming maintenance of both long and short haired dogs.
For Long Haired Dogs
(e.g. Yorkies, Shih-tzus, Maltese)
For Short Haired Dogs
(e.g. Labs, Beagles, Boston Terriers)
REMEMBER: While it is important to brush your dog at home, please do not try to trim your dog’s hair or cut out mats before a visit to the groomer. It can be dangerous for your dog and should be left to professionals.
- Dry your dog – To get your puppy accustomed to the sounds and sensations of the hair dryer, blow your hair dryer on your dog (can be on a dry coat). The dryer can be a source of anxiety for your dog, so getting them used to it early can help a lot in the long run.
- Brush your puppy’s teeth – Dental hygiene is very important for your dog’s health, so get your puppy accustomed to teeth brushing early on. Get a finger toothbrush or even a piece of gauze with dog toothpaste on it and brush your dog’s teeth as much as he or she will allow.
Bring them for a visit – prior to your puppy’s first groom, and in between future appointments, bring your dog to Pawsh, or wherever your dog gets groomed (if possible) to get a treat and just come for a non-grooming visit. The more positive associations your dog has with his or her grooming salon, the better! Visiting the salon may also help you feel more at ease. If you are feeling worried, your anxiety can transfer to your puppy. Having a positive attitude when bringing your dog to the groomer will help your puppy feel at ease too.