When to take my puppy for his first grooming?


Photo by Andy Omvik on Unsplash

Congratulations! You have a puppy! :)
After the first snuggles with your new bundle of joy, I felt the need to create something you all can enjoy reading until the cuddles turn into a quick afternoon doggy snooze... :)

Having a puppy is one of the most rewarding feelings any human can experience. They say that “when you have teenagers, it’s important to have a dog, so that someone in the house is happy to see you” :) oh how true that is! Anyways teenagers or not, having a puppy comes with lots of joy, happy moments. I'm here to put my part in, the fun way of help you prepare for all the responsibilities as well.

As a professional dog groomer, I spent a lot of time studying the impact of well-maintained hair and nails on dogs and pups. And sometimes not so well maintained ones...
I deeply believe in prevention, so let’s focus on how you can ensure your puppy is healthy, happy and content with the help of grooming and essential home-maintenance.

I get a lot of customers asking me

When is the best time to introduce my puppy to grooming?
What is the best way to make my puppy confident and cooperating at the groomer?

The best time to start introducing puppies to grooming basics is right away, while they are still with their moms, at the breeder. Surprise, hah? Now you know why groomers freak out at the drop-off time and owners at the pickup time when the first grooming session happens around one year of age.

A mindful breeder will start socializing the whole litter to noises, the feeling of being petted, being held, being brushed, the sensation of the water when they get into a small doggy pool, etc. That builds confidence, enhances and satisfies curiosity and is just pure fun for everyone. The mom's trusting presence and calming signals for her pups, even when loud noises are surprising for the babies, goes a long way not only for grooming! With that approach, we're building a confident canine, who is going to be chill even when it comes to clippers, thunderstorms and fireworks.

Ask your breeder what did they do and you can take your part when your new pup turns 8 weeks old. Better yet, negotiate with the breeder to include those early socialization steps in their breeding program in case they're not included yet. A lot can be done before the time comes, when pups get to move out and live in their new and furever homes.

8-week-old puppies are super cute and pretty much harmless regardless of the breed (there are a few exceptions, but doodles are chill pups). After you all had a few days to settle in with your new addition to the family, it's the best time to start inviting friends and KIDS over to meet the new pup. If you already have kids, even better! :) 

Exercising the kids before meeting a new pup is pretty useful, especially for the first meetup. That way the kids won't go wild and will have moderate enthusiasm around the new pup, making it easier for the tiny furry friend to get used to the screaming-running wiggle bugs around.
This little detour may seem to be off topic, but it helps tremendous for the grooming session in case a doggy is used to all kinds of noises and types of handling so they will be the most confident even in a new situation. I am giving away stuff earlier that I was planning to, so let's see what else I have in my pocket for you! :)

The next most often asked question is:

When is a puppy ready for his/her first visit to get groomed?

I'd like to break it up to 2 parts. Preparation and the actual grooming. The prep or socialization can start super early, mainly done by the owner or with a trainer and we can add in new lessons for the doggy as he/she grows, like a grooming session.

Going to a groomer is a pretty big step in the pup's life. Traveling in the car, being left with a stranger for a few minutes, new smells, new noises, new people... All that can come as quite a bit of a surprise for the puppy. So a solid foundation of preparations for it will be a huge help for a smooth transition. 

The best way to prepare your pup for the first pampering is to ensure they are experienced a lot of things/happenings before the groomer. The more people they meet during their first 2-3 months, the better. I try to encourage new doggie owners to get the pups out there to see lots of strangers during walks, gatherings and outings. Let them give your pup lots of belly rubs, play with them and cuddle as much as possible.

I also highly recommend starting the home hair maintenance before the puppy’s first visit to the groomers. Brushing and combing as early as possible, to get them used to the feeling, as it is critical for keeping their coat mat-free going forward, as well as handling their ears, paws and back end to ensure they are comfortable with the necessary maintenance of those areas as he grows. Once you'll know what to look for, you'll be so surprised how fast the hair grows there! And with that knowledge, you can ensure that your puppy will be comfortable before and between two grooming sessions.

It is great help to groomers and beneficial for pups to have their owners practice these little home maintenance tricks, as it always pays off in the long run. The result is a well-looked after, happy and healthy doggie, just the way we like them. :)

Pups need their nails, eye area and sanitary done fairly fast. In case you're just learning about all this, and you start noticing signs of a little TLC, I'd let a professional do it until you get the hang of it. In case the pup's nails feel sharp, I'm always happy to give them a trim and file the nails so they won't scratch anyone or break off. Boy those nails can feel like claws of an eagle on your legs when they are letting you know about the need of some belly rubs. :)

Sanitary hair can grow like weed, so often times doggies and doggy owners benefit from a shorter trim around there. That bunch of hair on their penis/vulva collects urine, the pupper will smell like pee... And that wet sensation on your arm or hand when you lift him up... (you guessed what that is...) won't be there any more after a sanitary trim. :)

So basically that is called a Face, Feet, Fanny package I suggest for pups, whenever you notice the signs below:

  1. hair covering the eyeballs and eye area, (hair bunches reach the eyeballs rather sooner by the inner corners of the eye)
  2. wet arms / smelly pup (urine on the hair around the privates)
  3. sharp nails when playing, scratches on your skin

This quick meetup will help you and your pup to get comfortable in a new place, we get to know each other so it'll be a smooth transition for all participants, included doodle, owner and groomer. Don’t worry it usually takes about 30 mins, but it won’t take more than 45 minutes to an hour, so your puppy shouldn’t be too overwhelmed or exhausted being away from you.

For pups, who did not get all their shots yet, I make sure to book them as the first client of the day to minimize the exposure with other dogs before they'd be all up to date on their shots.

Simply put, grooming helps keep your dog happy and healthy, gives you and your dog a time that is set aside just for the two of you, and helps you save on veterinary bills. So don’t delay, start getting your pup used to grooming your early.

And remember, anybody, who doesn’t know what soap tastes like, never washed a dog. :)
Oops, that topic is going to come up very soon, too!

Get washing, brushing and clipping or let me do it for you!

Belly rubs to your puppers!