Do you want to set your puppy up for success? Here are five things you can do at home to ensure your puppy has a lifetime of safe and positive experiences at the groomer.
- Touch and hold their feet. Start by briefly touching each foot several times a day and then reward him with a treat. Continue holding each paw for a few seconds before rewarding it. The goal is to be able to trim their nails without disturbing them. Most dogs will accept having their feet treated if you start working on them at an early age. If you’re concerned about cutting the nails too short, most groomers offer walk-in nail trims, but even if you hold your puppy’s feet for up to 30 seconds several times a day, he will be able to tolerate the nail trimming.
- Introduce your puppy to brushing and combing the same way. Even if they have short hair, they are likely to shed as they get older, and brushing them while they are biting the brush can be dangerous. In general, the younger a puppy is when introduced to new things, such as a brush, the better he will adapt.
- Don’t stop brushing if they try to bite! Doing so teaches them that biting stops what they hate, which is never a good lesson for a dog to learn. If you continue to brush them even if they nibble on you, they will learn that biting is futile and will usually accept the brushing without any difficulty.
- Get them used to vibrations and loud noises. Keep them with you in the bathroom when you blow-dry your hair. Hold the handle of a battery-powered toothbrush or shaver next to their body so they can get used to the vibrations. After they allow you to do this, gradually get them used to the vibrations near their head. Wobbly, scared puppies with sharp clipper blades or scissors near their eyes can be a dangerous combination. Getting them used to loud noises and vibrations can help prevent injuries.
- Treat their face. Many puppies have difficulty holding their faces, but it is crucial to safely trim around their eyes, ears and mouth. Hold their chin hair regularly and do not let go until they stop trying to escape. Once they learn that they cannot escape, they learn to trust that standing still will not lead to injury.
Reward your puppy with treats at each step of this process. The more comfortable they can feel receiving treatment before their first visit to the groomer, the more likely they are to have a lifelong positive association with grooming.