The first time at the grooming shop can be a little overwhelming for a puppy, especially if it is a large establishment. It is always important to let your groomer know that it is the first time for puppy. Choosing a time of day when the shop will be quieter and less filled with boisterous or anxious dogs will make the experience less upsetting for your little puppy. Early morning, mid-week and evening appointments are best for an introduction to the grooming process. In my own little shop because I have a small clientele, the atmosphere is always quiet and relaxed. However, I have worked in a large volume shop before so I know how hectic these can be. If you are doing this at home finding a time when there is not a lot of traffic, for example kids playing, is the important factor.
I take time to hold and cuddle the new puppy to establish trust prior to beginning. Often if the puppy has an older companion dog I invite the client to bring them along even if they are not being groomed. First time puppies are bathed in the same way as experienced dogs. I have a towel close by, shampoo premixed at hand and the water temperature pre-determined. I use the grooming loop to secure the puppy to the tub area and use extra precaution as they may try to bolt when the water goes on. Often it is the sound of the water “hissing” that startles puppy more than the actual water on the body. I get the hose nozzle up close to the skin to help quieten this sound. At all times I am prepared to drop everything to hold on to and settle a spooked puppy. I pre-wet, shampoo and rinse as described in previous posts.
I wrap a totally shampooed and rinsed puppy securely in a towel to comfort the puppy and absorb the wetness. I use two different means of drying a puppy at this point. If the puppy has a very light coat I use a second dry towel to absorb the rest of the water, followed by fluffing with a comb in front of a fan. I do use the velocity dryer otherwise though. It is loud and blows harder so I try not to get it very close to the body. I only use it for as long as the puppy can tolerate then move to the fluffing and fan. For Bunker who is pictured here I used two towels for absorption and then the velocity dryer to dry his amazingly thick coat. He had just watched his companion get groomed and did very well with the dryer.
Pictured above is Bunker when he arrived at my shop. He is a 5 month old ShihTzu/Terrier X that had not been groomed before. The client wanted just a puppy trim which is a trim under the eyes, around the feet, bum and groin only. She also requested that I tunnel his tummy for the snowy season.
The face is the final touch for puppy’s first grooming. Above shows the correct way to secure the puppy’s head for grooming procedures involving the head. Those chin hairs are a perfect handle and most dogs remain still while being held in this manner. Some puppies need practice to understand the holding still part…hold until the struggle stops, praise and immediately let go while the puppy is still…repeat until he gets it. Never let go while the dog he is still struggling…you will only have trained him to fight the process. For a puppy’s first trim I use blending shears to carefully nibble down the hair on the top of the muzzle and under the eyes. If the puppy is sensible…Bunker was very sensible…I follow the blenders with one swoop down the nose with a #10 clipper. This move is to get the puppy used to the idea of clippers on the face…a real plus for future trims.