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At what age should you start grooming a puppy?

When it comes to dog grooming, perhaps one of the most exciting “clients” you can deal with as a professional dog groomer are those big-eyed, floppy-eared bundles of enthusiasm…Puppies! But what age should you actually start grooming a puppy? And what key knowledge should you, as an established dog groomer, be communicating to pup parents about their young dog’s care? Whilst our online dog grooming course will teach you everything you need to know about puppy grooming, in this blog we will offer you an essential overview of this core canine care skill.

How old a puppy should be to start grooming?

As a rule of thumb, it’s best to start grooming puppies from 10-12 weeks up. Whilst some may consider grooming a puppy as young as 8 weeks old, remember that during this time in their lives young dogs will – most likely – have been recently separated from their mother and littermates. This can be an overwhelming and confusing time in their lives, so it’s best not to overload a puppy with too many new experiences too soon.

Waiting until a puppy is at least 12 weeks old will have given them a few weeks of adjusting to their new home and gaining confidence with their new family too. Additionally, after 12 weeks most puppies will have received their vaccinations, making it an overall safer experience for the puppy involved.

What are the benefits of grooming a puppy?

It is highly beneficial to introduce a puppy to the grooming experience at an early stage in their life. Why? Simply because the sooner they are exposed to the various sensations, noises, scents and processes of dog grooming, the quicker they will understand and adapt to the experience and find it less intimidating or daunting in the future.

Grooming is also about much more than making a puppy look smart – although this is one obvious advantage. Grooming offers the benefits of boosting hair growth, helping to prevent a build-up of grease and dandruff, prevent hair matting, reduces stress, and also promotes healthy blood circulation. For instance, cysts can be caused by grease build-ups in a dog’s fur, an uncomfortable experience for any pup, and therefore the grooming process can proactively prevent this from occurring.  

Likewise, grooming also invites the opportunity to give puppies a full-body inspection, checking ears, eyes, skin, teeth, fur and paws for any abnormalities and general health. It also helps to desensitise a pup from being handled by both their carer, groomers and vets too, as with the consistent gentle exposure to these body parts being touched this can then ensure they are less reactive or defensive in the future.

What happens during a puppy’s first grooming session?

It’s important to start off slowly when it comes to grooming a puppy for the first time. For home grooming, it’s recommended that pup parents begin by softly and calmly brushing their puppy with an appropriate grooming brush, with lots of reassurance and even a treat or two to reinforce that this is a positive experience.

When it then comes to a puppy’s first official session with a groomer, a shorter introductory session is an essential part of the process. During this first grooming session, it’s the groomer’s responsibility to put the puppy at ease and gently introduce them to the experience of both being in a grooming environment (with all the strange sights, smells and noises) and also being handled in what – to the puppy – may seem an extremely strange way.

During this first session, the groomer will typically spend time with a puppy first to build a rapport. They may also bathe, blow dry and brush the puppy too, tailoring the treatment depending on the puppy’s comfort levels and grooming requirements. Remember, this session is really just about getting the puppy used to the grooming routine – standing on a grooming table and being handled by an essential stranger – as opposed to giving their entire look an overhaul. It will also typically be shorter, in order to gradually build them up to longer grooming sessions.

When to get a puppy’s hair cut?

It will be rare for a professional groomer to recommend cutting a puppy’s fur during this initial session, as the puppy’s hair is still in the process of growing. However, after two to three grooming sessions, owners may then choose to book in for a full-grooming experience including a cut, although a trim may very well depend on the puppy’s breed and coat type.

Generally, the first haircut will take place at approximately 6 months old. If owners have routinely brushed their puppy, then this haircut will typically take the form of a trim. However, if the coat has become knotted or matted, the coat may be taken a degree shorter.

Following this, a professional grooming session is recommended every six to eight weeks, with regular at-home grooming in between. Whereas at 10-12 months a puppy’s adult coat will start to come in, so the grooming routine may need to be altered in order to help the adult coat grow in smoothly.

Grooming advice to puppy parents

Whilst pup parents will take their furry buddies to a groomer for some physical TLC, they may also rely on the dog groomer to offer key advice for at-home grooming and general health care too. Our own animal care courses cover this core knowledge, including first aid, coat types and breed specific grooming. 

To expand, some key pieces of advice a groomer can offer pup parents can include the correct grooming equipment to use for their puppy, as well as handling techniques and creating a calm grooming experience. 

Likewise, groomers may advise owners on how regularly their specific breed of puppy may need grooming. Typically, no puppy will need washing or bathing on a weekly basis, as this will strip the natural oils from the puppy’s coat and cause both the coat and skin to dry out, leading to skin irritation and a lacklustre coat. A pH-balanced puppy specific shampoo used every two weeks, in general, will be enough to keep a pup smelling fresh and looking healthy.

Bathing and grooming frequency will also depend on a puppy’s breed, factoring in features such as the length of their hair or even their ear type, and how frequently these get dirty. Equally, other grooming services such as nail clipping and teeth brushing will be tailored to the specific needs of the puppy’s themselves.

Professional groomers can also advise pup parents on the various grooming styles to help aid their breed of dog’s health and quality of life. Vitally, they can provide insight into potential causes of their puppy’s behaviours – for example, if they are feeling lethargic or seem depressed, this may be because they are experiencing some form of skin irritation or discomfort due to fleas or ticks.

Indeed, if a puppy is taken to the same groomers on a regular basis, a good groomer will keep some form of record of a puppy’s health during each visit. This can help to track their overall wellbeing, and help owners to quickly identify if there are any health concerns that a vet will need to address.

If you adore dogs and are considering starting your own dog grooming business, then getting up to speed on the best puppy grooming practices is essential, as they may very well make up a core portion of your clientele. Small business courses in dog grooming are an ideal starting point, to help build both your technical and practical knowledge of adult and puppy grooming, supporting you to successfully make your mark on this highly active industry. 

Our own short courses online have been designed specifically for those looking to take their first step into the world of professional dog grooming or to develop their existing skills and grow their service offerings. With our flexible and self-paced Beginners Dog Grooming Certificate and Advanced Dog Grooming Certificate, you can choose what level of training is right for you and enjoy a personalised training experience from the comfort of your own home. 

Our short business courses are designed by top industry professionals, with a training kit included, so you can be confident that you’re learning from the best with the top-range pieces of equipment added to your arsenal.    

Take your first step towards the career of your dreams today. After all, what job could be better than handling cute puppies on a daily basis?