Your new puppy is home, a cute and cuddly ball of fluff that loves everyone, making you laugh with kisses and cuddles--and puppy grooming may not be on your radar. You are aware that it is important to teach your pup to sit, come and walk nicely on a lead but it is also important to teach your puppy that grooming is enjoyable, especially if you plan to use a professional groomer.
Introducing grooming in a positive way allows the pup to build a nice association with brushes, combs, clippers, nail trimmers and the handling that is associated with the grooming process.
It is important this starts right from the first day the pup is home as puppies learn best aged between 7 to 16 weeks. Hopefully, the breeder was handling your pup in its very early life.
Handle Your Puppy
The first step is to teach your puppy that hands are associated with nice things like food, toys, and pats. Follow these tips.
1. Hold your hand just in front of their nose. Most puppies will automatically smell your hand, and when he does, say YES! (or click a clicker) and give a nice small morsel of food. Do this a few times about three or four times a day for about a week.
2. Once they are happily touching your hand, start touching the pup’s body, firstly under the chin, then around the collar, shoulders, and back. Take another week to do this. Touch, say YES! (or click) as you do it, give a treat and remove the hand. Do this quietly and gently.
3. If pup starts to bite or gets scared, you have gone too fast and need to backtrack to earlier steps. If the puppy is comfortable with these steps, move on to touching (but not holding) areas dogs are not so comfortable having touched. These may include the face, top of their head, feet, bottom, and tail. It is important that these early steps are done slowly as they are formative stages for the rest of the process.
4. At times the puppy will be lying down next to you asleep or cuddling. Use this time to softly rub your hands over the dog. Use nice gentle soft circles over the body at first.
5. If the dog is accepting of this, gently run your open hand loosely down the leg. Go straight down and off the leg slowly and gently. If the dog does anything other than stay completely relaxed while you are doing this, return to earlier steps.
6. If the dog pulls away as you touch a limb, then you have been too fast, your hold is too tight or the pup is sore at that spot. The aim is to for the pup to stay completely relaxed.
7. The next progression of this step is to keep one hand on the top of the leg while another hand touches the foot, but only if the dog stays still.
Gradually get the dog used to you touching all areas of its body such as its ears, eyes, tail and all four legs.