Grooming puppies and anxious dogs can be tough on everyone involved so it’s important when you wash a puppy for the first time that you make it a positive experience.
Get them used to their paws being touched
Before you wash a puppy, you first want to get them used to having their paws touched by gently massaging them between the pads. This also helps with the nail cutting process.
Prepare them for grooming the face
As you will need to groom them around the face at some stage a good way to start is to gently rub under the chin and reward them for staying still. Start to then gently grab the fur under the chin and hold it while still rewarding calm, behaviour and move to other areas around the face.
Once your pup is used to this you and you are confident, try a small clip of hair on the chin to get them used to scissors.
Be very careful though, as you do not want to knick your puppy and have that memory etched into their brain. If you’re unsure, leave this part to the groomers.
When you wash your puppy at home, use plastic tub if you haven’t got a bath or sink and fill it with about 15 centimetres of luke warm water.
Gently place your puppy in and reward them for not struggling.
Gently hold them if they struggle until they stop and the moment do reward them to reinforce that behaviour.
You can get some help and use a bit of dog safe peanut butter on a spoon to focus their attention on that.
Gently cup water over your puppy’s back, avoid their ears and eyes and use a face washer for that.
Use a small amount of all natural puppy shampoo on their back and wash them gently.
Rinse them thoroughly and dry off with a microfibre towel. Best to just towel dry them the first few baths so they get used to the experience.
If you have a long coated puppy, use a detangler and gently comb or brush out any knots, always put your fingers at the base of the knot so you aren’t pulling their skin.
Drying your puppy
Drying your puppy is the biggest problem groomers see in the salon, so never tease your puppy with a hair dryer at home or you can cause serious anxiety in your dog.
Get them used to it starting on the lowest setting and hold it far enough away that they just feel the breeze of air.
Reward good behaviour and very gradually move it closer to the puppy, you don’t want to go too quick and frighten them.
Brushing your puppy
Once they are dry, let your puppy sniff and smell the brush, moving slowly and gently brushing.
If they want to bite it, stop and try again when they are calmer, or use the dog-safe peanut butter again here.
Remember to gently work out any knots or matted hair, regular brushing of your pup will help with this.
Look for the DGG Puppy and Small Dog Shampoo at your local PETstock store, or visit the DGG website to learn more about their all natural dog and puppy shampoo range.
About the Author: Lara Shannon is a NDTF certified dog behaviourist and trainer, Executive Producer and Host of Pooches at Play on Channel 10 and editor of Poochesatplay.com. Lara also runs her own dog training and boarding business in Melbourne’s Bayside area and is the Author of Eat, Play, Love Your Dog.