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  • Amber Sanders

Grooming your new puppy

So you have a new puppy!

Get him or her started right away on a grooming routine will help them trust being handled and help them bond more quickly and easily to you.

It's easiest to work with them from the puppy stage. You're starting with a blank slate and training them for the experience, making it much easier to handle them in the future or if they might be injured or fearful.

The best way to get started is by choosing one day every week as your designated “spa day.” It may sound like you are going to pamper your pooch all day long but it really just means that you will get it on your schedule as a priority.

A simple 10 to 15 minutes a week to bond with your pup can do it.

Begin by speaking in a soft, soothing voice. Pet and cuddle your puppy and play with him or her calmly for a bit. Be sure to have treats as a reward to help make the process as positive as possible. As you gain his or her trust, grooming will be regarded as a fun, enjoyable experience. Patience is key.

If your puppy is nervous with any aspect of grooming, use an all-natural calming chew, like Chillax about 20-30 minutes before grooming, to help ease her stress.

Giving your dog high-value, healthy treats during grooming will help him develop positive associations with grooming. This is known as a Conditioned Emotional Response. Many dogs inadvertently develop negative conditioned emotional responses, but you can help your dog develop a positive conditioned emotional response to grooming by incorporating lots of treats and praise.


The grooming question I get the most from new puppy owners is, “How often do I bathe my puppy?” Washing your puppy every week is too often. Only wash your puppy with a mild puppy shampoo like this Aloe, Oatmeal, and Chamomile Shampoo. when he or she is either smelly or dirty. If you wash too often the natural oils on your puppy’s skin and coat are stripped away and can leave your puppy itchy, they can develop dandruff, and have a dull coat.

A dog’s skin and coat health comes from oils in their diet. Hopefully some of these are nutritional oils, especially high-omega-3 oils like this Wild Alaskan Salmon & Pollock Oil, instead of just animal fats. Nutritional oils can be found in high-quality dog foods and they have many health benefits in addition to providing a healthy skin and coat. If you want a beautifully soft and silky coat for your dog, feed well, supplement with a Wild Salmon Oil, and bathe as only needed.

Brushing and Combing

Daily brushing sessions should be combined with playing and/or bonding time. If your puppy begins to look forward to being brushed each day, it will be infinitely easier for you to keep her fur or hair in excellent condition throughout his or her life! Brushing also stimulates oil production to keep their skin healthy and supple, and their coat shiny.

The littlest puppies may think brushing is a game and attempt to chew on the brush. Although it’s not unusual for a puppy to try to nip at the brush, simply replace the brush with a toy and keep working with them until he or she is comfortable with being brushed and doesn’t bite the tools, including you!

There are three simple and basic steps to brushing and combing. First, start with a simple soft bristle brush and brush in the direction of the hair. Next, be sure to use a comb to comb close to the skin because this is where mats form. Lastly, brush out the top coat again.

Choose a stainless steel comb around 7 1/2 inches by 1 inch with wide-spaced teeth on one end and narrow-spaced teeth on the other end. The wider teeth work best if your dog has a long or double coat; the narrow end works well for short, sleek coats; but you'll likely use both ends.

Comb in the direction of the hair growth, from her head down his or her back, toward their tail. Move the comb over her coat in short, gentle strokes making sure you do not catch a mat with the comb and pull their hair.

Consistent brushing and combing will help prevent matting and will loosen dirt, debris, dead hair, and reduce shedding by removing the loose pet hair deep within the coat. Trapped undercoats can cause your dog to overheat in the summer. Regularly brushing and combing is also the best way to avoid long and cumbersome grooming sessions.

Doing this regularly will help you get to know how your dog’s skin normally looks. This will increase the chance that you will notice anything different. Many bumps and markings are harmless, and if you spot one that isn’t, early detection can mean the difference between life and death for your furry loved-one.

Brushing Teeth

Brushing your dog’s teeth can help prevent plaque buildup. To be straightforward, very few pet owners that I talk to brush their dog’s teeth regularly, but it is a great thing to do to contribute to your pup's overall health and the ease of being handled if you stay committed to it! At the very least, have your puppy get used to you taking food and toys out of their mouth at random, getting their teeth checked, and anything else that can help them get used to you handling their mouths. You will need to stay aware of needed cleanings and consult with your veterinarian in either case.

If brushing, do it during a time that your pet is relaxed and calm, like right before bedtime. He or she will be tired from a busy day, and it's easy to remember as it's the same time you brush your own teeth. Be confident in your abilities! Your dog will sense it if you're nervous.

Ease him or her into the process gradually over 1-2 weeks, starting with touching her mouth, rubbing her gums, then working with a little toothpaste on your finger up to the toothbrush instead of your finger.

Hold her firmly but gently and don't apply too much pressure which could make your dog feel intimidated. Never place your arm or leg over your pet to hold her down, and don't try to restrain her in any way. Do what you can and try again later. Remember, a low energy state will help. Maybe try again after playing or a walk.

If your dog doesn't take well to tooth brushing or if you want an additional dental health boost, add a delicious, all-natural dental chew as a daily treat.

Checking and Cleaning Ears

Not all dog breeds need ear cleanings. Dog ears have a way of maintaining health and introducing any foreign cleaners can disturb this natural balance. For some, particularly longer and floppy eared dogs or dogs who swim, this part of grooming is important for ear health.

Use a mild and natural ear cleaner to clean ears thoroughly after exposure to moisture such as snow, rain, swimming, or bathing. Simply apply or squirt the cleaner into the ear canal and gently rub the base of your dog’s ear. Be sure to dry ears with a soft cloth after cleaning to help prevent bacteria and yeast from taking hold in moist ears. Only stick your finger ½ an inch into the ear canal for smaller dogs and 1 inch onto the ears for larger dogs when drying.

Visually inspect and smell their ears regularly. When the ears are darker pink, appear irritated, look swollen, or smell “off”, it is time for a thorough cleaning. If you are unsure or worried there is an infection, get to the vet right away since untreated ear infections are painful and can be a cause of permanent hearing loss.

Get Rid of Ugly Tear and Saliva Staining

Tear stains are reddish stains that show up underneath and in the corners of your dog's eyes. They are especially noticeable on dogs with white or light coats. While this staining is called a tear stain, it actually has nothing to do with excessive tear production and is caused by their body breaking down iron.

You can get rid of tear staining, as well as staining around the mouth with a gentle Tear & Saliva Stain Remover.

Trimming Nails

On average, a dog will need his nails trimmed about once every week and this will vary as a result of your dog’s activity level and breed.

If you hear your dog's nails tapping on the floor, they are way too long. You'll need to trim them at least two times a week until they get to a more manageable length.

Nails that are too long and tap on the floor can cause foot pain and other issues, so keep them trimmed if you can.

Trimming nails can be something that some pet owners prefer to have a groomer or their vet take care of. If this is you, just be sure to schedule trimmings regularly. If you choose to do the trimming yourself, there are many videos online that can help you feel more confident in methods and showing you visually where to trim.

Cut nails slowly and to keep styptic powder on hand to control any bleeding if a nail quick is clipped. Same process as above. Get him or her tired first, then be gentle and don’t apply too much pressure holding your puppy or intimidate him or her and things will go much better.

Coat Trimming

Does your dog need a coat trim? Here are some ways you can tell:

  • Has his or her hair grown over their eyes?

  • Does he or she have tangles due to length?

  • Are there mats or other unhealthy patches that need to be removed?

  • Is he or she starting to look unhealthy or unkempt?

  • Does he or she have issues with cleanliness because of their coat length?

Be sure to move slowly, trim carefully, and don’t trim too close to the skin. You may want to have someone assist you as you if your puppy is particularly wiggly.

Professional Grooming

Another common question I get is, “How do I know when I need to use a professional groomer?” Well, you will know when you look at your puppy and you doubt that your simple 30 minute spa routine will really do the trick.

My best advice is to seek out a grooming appointment well before this happens, sometimes before picking up your puppy. Groomers are in high demand right now and many are either booked out months in advance or not taking new clients. Try groomers that come highly recommended by other pet owners.

Have Fun!

Remember, as you play with and groom your puppy daily or weekly, you will gain your puppy’s trust and he or she will regard grooming as a fun, enjoyable experience. You will also gain a special bond to last a lifetime!

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