Preparing your puppy for their first trip to the groomers

Depending on your puppy’s breed and coat type, regular grooming sessions may be on the cards. Here’s everything you need to know about preparing your puppy for a stress-free, professional grooming session.

Professional puppy grooming isn’t necessary for every dog breed, but many owners choose to book regular appointments to keep their puppy’s coat in the best condition possible. But before you book your puppy’s first appointment with a professional groomer, it’s important to carry out some basic training at home.  

Some long-haired breeds like the Lhasa Apso can be prone to matted coats, which can be hard to keep on top of without expert help. Other breeds like  Poodles and Bichon Frise can also benefit from regular coat trims. Even if your dog is short-haired, you might want to bring them to a groomer for an occasional bath and claw trim. But generally speaking, shorter-haired dogs are easier to take care of at home.

Before bringing your new puppy to the groomers, you’ll have some work to do at home. Get your dog used to a simple home grooming routine with plenty of positive reinforcement and brief, frequent training sessions.

You want your puppy to get used to their ears and paws being touched and massaged. You can then slowly introduce them to being brushed with a nice soft brush. Take this slowly and don’t brush too hard.

It’s easier to build positive emotions from scratch rather than go back and undo negative emotions. So don’t rush anything, and try to make the learning experience fun. Lots of treats will help with this! As your puppy gets used to the soft brush you can introduce other equipment like a fine-toothed comb or a grooming mitt. 

Don’t try to get your puppy ready for the groomer the day before their first appointment. Instead, break the steps up as much as possible, so you’re setting yourselves up for success.

For example, you might just touch your puppy with a brush and give them a treat on day one. On another day, you might brush them for a few seconds and eventually build up to several minutes. You’ll be taking plenty of pauses and keeping sessions brief and playful. Focus on emotionally preparing your puppy rather than brushing them to perfection.

Your puppy is a bundle of energy. As cute as that is, it can make staying still for more than a second quite challenging! So don’t hesitate to take your puppy for a walk before you try to groom them. Remember to always let them burn off some energy and relieve themselves before taking them to see the groomer. Bear in mind that some dogs are more sensitive around their paws and ears when cold. So you might not want to train a young puppy outside on a frosty morning.

It’s best to start taking your puppy to see a groomer from around 16 weeks, so they get used to the experience early on in life. You need to ensure they are fully vaccinated first because many other dogs will pass in and out of the grooming facility.

Depending on your puppy’s breed, some may need more regular grooming sessions than others. Long-haired dogs need to be brushed at home every day, and you might take them to a professional every six to eight weeks.

Before bringing your puppy for their first grooming session, it’s a good idea to visit the facility alone. You want to check that it’s clean and meet the staff that will be working with your pup. Most professionals will be happy to give you a tour of the facilities and speak to you about what to expect.

It’s a good idea to book a shorter grooming session the first time and not worry too much about getting your puppy turned out perfectly. Ask your groomer to focus on making it a positive experience, so they can take the time to introduce clippers, dryers and the grooming table. You could also ask to watch the first session, so you can make sure your new family member isn’t too stressed.

For an anxious puppy, it’s worth exploring a mobile puppy groomer that will come to your house. The familiar surroundings can help make the overall experience less overwhelming.

Once your puppy has attended two or three sessions, they should be accustomed to everything and look forward to their trips to the groomers. If you don’t feel comfortable with how the groomer interacts with your puppy, don’t hesitate to look for another. You can check out online reviews or speak to your friends or vet to get a recommendation.

You should try to make the experience as low stress for your dog as possible, as grooming is an important part of their wellbeing. But don’t expect every dog to jump for joy when the hair clippers get switched on. All of our animals are unique, with their individual preferences and dislikes.

Do you have any tips or tricks for making those first few grooming trips as easy as possible? Share them with us on our Facebook page.

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