Teaching puppies how to be groomed is an integral part of training them to be good canine citizens. Here are some easy steps to accustom puppies to the sounds, sights, and sensations of being groomed.
- Play with their paws every day. Separate their toes, touch their claws, gently hold each paw in your hand.
- Hold their face in your hand and let them get used to keeping their head still or moving from side to side and up and down with gentle pressure.
- Stroke ears from base to tip and get the puppy used to having you peer inside.
Additional simple lessons include:
- Putting the pup up on a secure surface. You don’t have to have a regulation grooming table; any solid surface with a non-slip top will do. Never leave the dog unattended, but do get it used to standing calmly on an elevated spot.
- Introduce basic grooming tools. Combs and brushes may seem like chew toys or something to be concerned about to a baby dog. Allow the puppy to smell and see each device, then gently stroke it down the back and sides. Gradually progress until the puppy calmly lets you brush its head, body, legs, belly, and tail.
- What’s the buzz about? If you have an electric toothbrush, human hair trimmer, or a similar tool that makes a humming sound, turn it on and let the puppy examine it. Accustom the dog to having the tool gently rubbed against its body. This will go a long way towards getting it used to the idea of having a clipper or nail buffer used later.
Keep some high-value treats at hand. The trick is to praise and reward good behavior immediately and ignore bad behavior. Keep lessons short and always end on an upbeat note when the puppy behaves the way you want.
When choosing grooming tools and products for your puppy, keep in mind that quality grooming tools are an investment. Well-made tools will be gentle to both coat and skin. Correctly cared for grooming implements may well last the life of your pet or even beyond. Depending on the coat of your pet, essential brushes and combs like Chris Christiansen's curved back slicker brush may be an excellent choice.
With proper introduction, puppies can learn to enjoy their “spa time,” making the experience enjoyable for both the human and canine involved in the process.