Puppy Grooming 101


Shannon Moore, NCMG | Director of Grooming and Education Espree Animal Products

We always see in increase in young puppies in grooming salons during the spring and early summer months.  As they appear on the books, I always find myself hoping the puppy has come from a breeder that has worked with them on grooming behavior.  Or if it is a rescue puppy, maybe the foster home has had the opportunity to work with the young dog too.  But, sometimes we aren’t so lucky for one reason or another.  It then becomes my job to teach the puppy how to get groomed and make it an enjoyable experience.  That first groom is so important.  We must keep the puppy safe and at the same time make it an enjoyable experience for the pup.

Depending on the circumstance with the pup and what I have scheduled for the day, determines if I try to get the puppy in and out of the salon quickly, or I might choose to keep it longer and put it on the table several times to get through the groom. Most often, I try to get keep the puppy for a brief period of time to help minimize stress.  I let the client know that if the puppy needs to take several breaks from being on the table, I might be calling asking for a few more hours for the visit.  When they know this ahead of time, and I explain how I want to make it an enjoyable experience as it sets the pace for grooming for the lifetime of the dog, they seem to be more understanding.  As long as I communicate with the client and let them know why I might need to keep the puppy, they are more understanding.  So not only is it our job to teach the puppy to enjoy being groomed, we have to train the client to do what is in the puppy’s best interest.

Grooming a puppy for the first time can be very scary for the young one.  If the dog is on the smaller side, I will often put the dog on my lap holding it close to my body for the first nail trim.  I lower the tone of my voice and try to comfort them and offer praise when we are finished.  I always keep one hand on the puppy at all times when on the table.  After all, being on a table can be a scary thing for the puppy.  I also take the time to massage the pads of their feet, and familiarize them with the sound of clippers and scissors.  I even will gently hold their face under the chin as if I were going to trim the face. I pet them and give them a little massage to get them to relax and begin to trust me.  If the puppy is really nervous, I might not do a full groom the first time.  Sometimes, a bath and tidy is a better choice. If this happens, I ask the owner to bring the puppy back in 2 weeks for another groom.  Even though puppies can take more time to groom, I want them in the salon every 2 to 3 weeks.  I want to take the opportunity to teach them Puppy Grooming 101 so they can enjoy coming to the salon.  After all, I plan on grooming those puppies for their life time! I want them to have fun and behave so as they mature, I can put a cute, stylish trim on them!

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