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A Puppy Grooming Guide

Pet Grooming

It's important to handle puppy grooming differently than the washing, cutting and clipping of an adult dog. One of the main reasons to take special care with the grooming of your puppy is that some dogs resist the grooming process, making it difficult for a pet owner to handle the duties. However, if puppy grooming is started with the idea of not stressing out your dog and trying to make the process fun, it's possible that grooming may never be an issue with your pet.

  • Start slowly. Your puppy is probably going to be all over the place, excited to sniff and place with the brush and comb and investigate everything you're doing. This will make it difficult to make any progress, but that's OK. Be gentle and reassuring. Begin the grooming introduction process at about 10 to 12 weeks and look to accomplish one short goal in every session.
  • Brush and comb first. It's a good idea to introduce brushing and combing first, not because it's the first part of the grooming process, but because it's something your puppy should enjoy. For now, if you plan to use a grooming table, put the puppy on the table. But do not restrain your dog at this point. Don't expect a head to toe full combing or brushing. Include lavish praise and a favorite treat for good behavior. Limit this first exposure to 5 or 10 minutes.
  • Brush and comb again. Return the next day and brush and pet your puppy. Make sure to get underneath the dog, where dead skin can accumulate. Try a full brushing for up to 10 minutes, showing your puppy that the grooming process can be enjoyable. Once again, give praise and a treat for good behavior. Make sure you handle the puppy's paws and brush them as well. Your dog should learn to expect to have its paws handled.
  • Simulate nail-clipping. Use a guillotine-type nail clipper and gently restrain your puppy - perhaps in your lap - as you hold its paws one at a time. Touch the clipper to the nail but don't clip. It should take a while before your puppy needs nail-clipping. But the introduction to the clipper is important so that when it is time for the real thing, your puppy won't freak out.
  • No shampoo with first bath. Put your puppy on a no-slip mat in the sink or tub or wherever you plan to bathe your pet. If the puppy fights this process, hold the animal in your lap or in your arms and run the water. Let your puppy get used to hearing and seeing the water sprayed in the tub or sink. Once again, praise your puppy for staying as calm as possible and offer a treat.
  • Slowly introduce bathing. The first bath should be a minute or two with a hose against the animal's body. Make sure the water pressure is low and soak a few parts of your puppy's body. Stay far away from your puppy's face. After a few minutes, take your pet out of the tub or sink and dry it off with a towel - a process the puppy should like. Next session, introduce gentle puppy shampoo, but keep the bath very short. After a few weeks, you should be able to go from combing and brushing to shampooing and then to nail-clipping without any panic or unusual struggles.

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