Just like learning to “sit” and “stay,” puppies need to learn how to behave at the grooming salon. This includes things like not walking off the table and not nipping at tools. A good groomer can work with a puppy to teach it what’s OK and what’s not. The younger the puppy is when they first go to a salon, the easier it is for them to learn good grooming manners.
To help your puppy you can also work with them at home before, and in between, their first haircuts. Try the following at home:
- Run a beard trimmer (no blades), electric toothbrush, or vibrating phone over your puppy’s body every couple days to desensitize them to vibrating grooming tools. Don’t forget to put it on their head too since the skull will amplify sound.
- Brush them every 1-2 days so they get use to combs and slicker brushes and are OK when a tangle needs to be brushed out.
- Play with and squeeze their feet and toes. Groomers have to handle dog feet and legs and many dogs are uncomfortable and try to pull away. Teaching your puppy that it’s OK to be touched makes grooming safer once blades or scissors are used.
- Practice chin-holds at home. Groomers hold onto the chin hair to steady the head while using scissors or clippers. If the dog is trying to pull away it will a) hurt and b) be dangerous. Hold onto the hair on your puppy’s chin and don’t let go until they are calm to practice.
Most salons will encourage puppies to come in for their first visit between 2 and 4 months of age. Puppies need to come in about once a month after that until they are at least 6 months old. The constant exposure makes sure they know that getting groomed is a regular part of life and not some sort of punishment.
Many puppies can only handle a very basic haircut the first few times they visit the salon. This usually includes a bath, brush out, nail clipping, face trim, foot and pad trim, and sanitary trim.
Once they are a little older they will be able to handle a full body hair cut. A cut that looks good on a lot of puppies is a 3/4 inch length on the body and head with a light trim on the ears and tail. This cut lets them keep that ragamuffin look that pet parents often like.
- Please note this is NOT a “puppy cut,” just a haircut that looks good on many puppies. Many pet parents ask their groomer for a “puppy cut” not realizing that a true “puppy cut” is one of the many show styles for poodles.