When is the best time to start grooming for your puppy?

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Answered by: Rebecca, An Expert in the Care for Dogs and Puppies Category
When considering the care for dogs and puppies, remember, puppies are like children, and their acclimation to professional grooming might be equated to a child venturing into daycare. So, when is the best time to start grooming for your puppy? It might vary from furr-kid to furr-kid - just as reactions to daycare might differ from child to child.

Think of it this way, some kids love new people and want to experience everything at a daycare center - staff, toys, other children, etc. The same is true of a puppy. Some dogs love to meet new people.They like to be pampered - brushed, paw-ti-cured, and cutely trimmed. They don’t mind the other animals barking or the loud dryers. These pets will do just fine in a busy, noisy environment like a professional grooming salon.

On the other hand, some children don't want to leave Mommy’s side. They are left at the daycare center, screaming and kicking while Mommy cries herself to work. Likewise with a puppy. There are dogs who stall at the door, refuse to leave their person’s side, or even growl, threatening to bite. These pets take a little more training than the above. I have found that, once Mom leaves, and she is out of puppy's sight, the puppies’ attitudes change significantly, and most handle the process fine. There are some puppies that simply don’t want any part of this routine and let the groomer know that this gig is not for them. These are the ones that take a lot more patience and training. A knowledgeable and caring groomer may decide that the puppy may need to be introduced to grooming in stages - or multiple visits.

In another scenario, a child might be happy enough to enter the daycare center and stay. All is smooth, until… Another child begins to cry. And parents know what can happen then, right? Another child begins to tear up. Next thing you know, all the children are crying, bawling, and sniffling. The same happens at a grooming salon. It’s a pack-mentality thing with dogs - like howling at the moon. One starts the braying, and the others join in. I had a lady ask me once what were my employees doing to make the dogs behave in such a manner. I assured her that there was no impropriety involved, that sometimes dogs just like to sing.

When is the best time to start grooming for your puppy? The sooner, the better. You should start introducing a basic routine at home. You will want to get them used to being brushed, having their feet handled, and getting their teeth brushed. This will help transition to the professional salon scene, when they are away from home and separated from the security of being near Mommy and Daddy. Do not tease the puppy or play with them during these home-grooming sessions. This is the time to train them that being handled is okay. We want puppy to understand grooming isn’t scary, and it doesn’t hurt.

Please note: I do not recommend a new puppy-parent to trim your baby’s nails at home. This is best left to the professionals, especially in the beginning. It is very important not to traumatize the puppy by accidentally trimming their nails past the quicks - the blood vessels that grow in the nails. This makes future nail trimming a dreaded affair. None of us want that.

One last thing about the care for dogs and puppies... I mentioned above that you should start your basic grooming routine at home. I will now tell you why. Most salons won't accept a puppy for grooming services until they have had their vaccinations. Typically, they’ll finish all three puppy rounds and their rabies vaccinations by twelve to sixteen weeks. I believe in a vaccine policy like this whole-heartedly - for the health and safety of your puppy who’ll be staying in the salon. We want those immune systems up to par before they’re left in our care. So if you haven’t introduced them to the basic routine of grooming for the first three to four months of their lives, they’re more likely to be a bit more anxious during the initial process.

Tips to Remember:

- Puppies are like children in several ways.

- Start gently at home as soon as possible.

- Have the nails professionally trimmed.

- Reputable grooming salons require proof of vaccinations.

- Most puppies will complete their vaccinations by the age of twelve to sixteen weeks

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