Most people buy or adopt their puppy and figure she is pretty much wash and wear. Well for those smooth coated dogs, I guess that’s mostly right, but what if your dog has longer fur. What if you’ve gotten attached to an Afghan, Yorkie or a long coated Dachshund. You knew I was going to sneak the Dachshund in there somewhere and the long coats are my specialty since I breed them. You can get away with just bathing and copious amounts of brushing, but what if you want to show your dog or just not have it look like a Chia Pet? Well, then you have two choices. Groom the dog yourself or take her to a groomer.
If you are going to groom yourself, my suggestion is, spend some time with your breeder and learn to do it the proper way. Any reputable breeder will most likely be showing their dogs and know how to groom them. If not, they will have a groomer that they can refer you to. I learned from the breeder of my first Dachshund puppy – who also happens to be a groomer – and have spent hours learning, tips and tricks from other breeders. If you want to spend this time with your dog, great; I say, go for it. While it can be frustrating at times, it can also be a good bonding experience with your puppy and also cheaper in the long run. But if you don’t have the time or inclination, then you need to find a good groomer.
There are some early basics you need to teach your puppy before sending her out to be groomed. Spend lots of time touching and handling your puppy all over. Don’t forget the feet, toes and ears as these may be sensitive “scary” areas for her. Once you’ve done that, the next stage is brushing and combing.Very young puppies generally don’t like to be brushed to begin with. You usually have to convince them that it’s fun. Using lots of positive, soothing words along with a few treats generally gets the point across. If you are going to use a professional groomer, your puppy should be introduced at about 12 weeks of age. Contact the groomer of choice to discuss your puppy’s specific grooming needs. This of course, will be different for each breed. You and your groomer will work as a team to provide the best care for your puppy so she can have a positive experience and look great.
A grooming salon is full of loud noises, lots of activity and strange smells. The groomer may suggest that you bring our puppy in to the salon for a couple of short visits, so as to acclimate her to this sensory overload. After these short forays, it will be time for her appointment. The first few may be lengthy, but that’s alright. It is extremely important that your puppy develops trust in the groomer and becomes comfortable with everything that is done. Many puppies discover that grooming is a fun adventure – not something to be feared. Your groomer should give you a time to come back for your puppy or call you when she is ready. Whatever you do, don’t return early. If your little bundle of fir sees you or hears your voice, she may become so excited that the groomer is unable to finish properly.
To prepare for your puppy’s grooming, take several trips in the car to get her familiar and comfortable with traveling. Also, set aside some special time each day to brush or comb your puppy and give her some quality attention. Before taking the puppy into the salon, make sure she has relieved herself and don’t be afraid to bring along a favorite toy. This will help your puppy feel at home in the crate or cage while waiting for her turn. On the way to the salon, be happy and up beat. If you are anxious, your puppy will pick up on it and may make the experience more stressful. The grooming salon needs to be your puppy’s “special place” where she can interact positively with the groomer and staff. The main objective is to make her first experience a positive one – one that she likes – as this will stay with her forever.
If you’ve never been to a grooming salon, you may wonder what happens there. Usually the first thing is that your puppy will be thoroughly brushed.This will allow the groomer to spend some time with your puppy, touching and petting her so she can settle down and feel safe; then comes the clipping. This is usually done with an electric clipper and/or a scissors. The important thing is that the puppy should be introduced to the grooming process at a comfortable pace – not rushed. Sometimes groomers will clean the ears and clip toenails before they begin bathing. Often they will place a drop of eye protector in your puppy’s eyes to keep the soap from irritating. Groomers typically use a good quality shampoo and conditioner with a very thorough rinsing. After the bath, your puppy will be dried with fluffy towels to avoid chills. Now here’s were some salons differ. If it is a high traffic salon, often they will place the dogs in a cage and have a dryer blow on them. This is called “cage drying” and can sometimes be scary for the dogs. It also makes the fir not lay as flat, so if you are showing your dog, be sure to find a groomer that hand dries and styles the dog or ask if this is an option. Sometimes you will have to pay extra for this if it is not routine, but your pet will look better and feel better about her grooming experience.
When you return to pick up your puppy, you will be greeted with a wagging tale and lots of kisses. Your puppy may even be sporting a bandana or pretty bows in her hair. Sometimes puppies feel strange after being groomed and may want to roll around on your carpet or rub up against the furniture. This is normal behavior but just be sure she doesn’t overdo it and cause irritation to the skin. Also remember, if her nails have been clipped, the edges may be a bit sharp at first and easily irritate the puppy’s skin. If you have any concerns, be sure to contact your groomer. You will want to groom your puppy every 4-8 weeks, depending on her coat. In between, be sure to bathe and brush her regularly. A clean coat is a healthy shiny coat. If you have questions about brushing, contact your groomer. They are usually happy to assist you with correct brushing techniques as well as give you ideas for the proper tools to use.
I hope this has been helpful information. Please feel free to leave comments or questions.