Grooming Your Dog: Getting Started

One of the most important, yet overlooked, aspects of routine care for pet dogs is grooming. Every dog requires some sort of grooming on a regular basis, though the effort required for each individual varies from breed to breed. Learning to maintain your dog’s healthy appearance is an important step in ensuring that it lives a happy, comfortable life with you.

Ideally, you should introduce your puppy to grooming as early as possible. Since most puppies do not require extensive brushing or trimming, this is more of a conditioning exercise than actual grooming. Designate one place in your home that will always be used when it is time to groom your dog. Many people prefer to place the dog on a table or bench to make the work easier. If you do this, make sure the surface is not slick. The dog should have good footing or else it may become nervous and very difficult to handle.

To begin, choose a designated grooming place that is quiet and free from traffic, at a time when you are unlikely to be disturbed. Place the puppy on the floor or on a table or a bench and gently stroke it, offering continuous quiet praise as it remains still and calm. You want the puppy to become comfortable with physical contact and examination while it is in its grooming place.

Start with short conditioning sessions, and gradually take more time as your puppy grows accustomed to the routine. Pay special attention to the ears, mouth and paws, as these are the areas where many dogs resent being touched. Open the puppy’s mouth, touch its teeth, look as far as possible into its ears, and pick up each paw, touching each nail and pad.

Do not use physical punishment when developing your grooming routine, as this can lead to a dog that fears being groomed.

Introduce actual brushing as soon as the puppy learns to remain calm while it in its grooming place. Start by gently brushing the hair on your pups back. Once again, talk to it in a soothing voice and offer praise when it remains still and accepts the brushing. When the puppy adjusts to the feel of the brush on its back, start moving toward the neck and gradually to the top of the head. The dog should be encouraged to stand still while you brush each leg and to lie calmly as you brush its chest and belly.

Never allow the puppy to bite or chew on your grooming tools. This could cause the puppy to view the tools as toys and think of grooming as playtime. Likewise, NEVER use a brush or any other grooming device as a means for punishment. This can cause a dog to resent and resist its required grooming.

A proper introduction to grooming at an early age will help your dog understand and enjoy being groomed. A regular grooming schedule will keep your dog looking and feeling great. Grooming is actually very relaxing once the puppy becomes accustomed to it, and you will build a stronger relationship with your dog in the process.
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