Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ask Billy: When should I begin grooming my new puppy?

Last week, this adorable Bearded Collie named Sookie came to Doggy Dooz, Billy's salon, for her very first professional grooming. Like all good groomers, Billy requires his clients to be fully vaccinated before their first appointment. Most puppies receive their final puppy shots at around four months old. Talk to your veterinarian about the best vaccination schedule for your puppy.

Puppies have immature immune systems, which makes them susceptible to infectious disease, many of which can be serious or deadly. Until your pup is fully vaccinated and your vet gives you the green light, try to keep her away from areas frequented by other dogs, such as parks and busy sidewalks. Unfortunately, some owners refuse to clean up after their dogs. The abandoned piles of festering poop can sometime transmit viruses, worms or other horrible parasites, so steer clear. As tempting as it may be to take your new puppy to visit a friend's dog, resist! Your friend's dog may be perfectly healthy, but still have been in contact with a sick dog. When visiting the vet, carry your puppy and avoid the dogs in the waiting room. Likewise, leave your pup at home when you shop for dog supplies.

Even though your puppy must wait before she can go to the salon, begin introducing her to grooming at home right away -- well, it's okay to give her a few days to get used to you first. The manner in which you introduce dog care determines your pup's lifelong attitude toward grooming or any other activity for that matter. If her early experiences are scary, stressful, and painful, your pup will quickly learn to hate and fear grooming. If, however, she associates grooming with pleasure, treats and your positive attention, she’ll flourish and enjoy a lifetime of grooming. In other words, don't toss her in the bath the first day!

Soon after your puppy arrives, begin petting and touching her all over: handle her paws, gently rub her ears, run your fingers in and around her mouth and rub her belly and undercarriage. The idea is to get her comfortable with the manhandling that is part and parcel of good grooming, whether by you or a professional. Your puppy doesn't need to know there's a method to your madness, she just needs to learn how much fun it is to be rubbed, petted and cared for by her new best friend. Be sure to share the petting and handling duties with others, whether family members or friends. Socializing your pup to accept other people in close proximity is good for you, the groomer, the veterinarian and anyone who comes near your precious pooch.

1 comment:

  1. The more time you can spend grooming your puppy (brushing, examining its teeth, clipping its toenails) while it is young & small, the easier it will be when it is full grown with a mind of its own. It may still take some work to get the puppy to accept some things, but you (and your groomer) with thank you for giving the effort.