8 Key Tips to Prepare Your Puppy for Professional Grooming

March 23, 2023

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Responsible pet parents know that professional grooming is an essential part of taking care of their pups. If you’ve ever wondered, “at what age can you groom a puppy?” it’s as soon as they’ve had their immunizations. This means they could be as young as 12 weeks old to get their first groom. 

Choosing mobile groomers allows for a stress-free experience for both you and your pup. No cages, crates, or other dogs around — plus you can fit in the appointment around your schedule. Here are eight excellent tips to prepare your puppy for their first professional groom.

1. Brush Your Puppy Daily

If your dog doesn’t enjoy being brushed by you, they’re more likely to dislike a stranger doing it. But in reality, regular brushing is paramount to your pup’s overall health. It prevents matting, removes debris, and distributes natural oils, which leaves their coat and skin healthy. 

A great way to make your pup more receptive to brushing is to choose the right type of brush, which ultimately depends on your dog’s coat. Brushes with short bristles are best for short-haired dogs, while those with long hair require longer bristles. Be sure to brush your puppy's coat in the same direction that the fur grows. Stroke firmly but not so much that it hurts and finish with a shedding blade to collect dead hairs.

It’s important to reinforce good behavior and periods of sitting still. This will help your pup feel calm and get accustomed to a professional grooming experience. Here are two useful brushes for your pup:

  • Hartz Groomer's Best Combo Dog Brush. This dual-action brush detangles and removes loose fur while softening coats. The ergonomic handle makes it super comfy to hold.
  • FURminator Dog Grooming Rake. Ideal for dogs with long dense fur, this all-purpose grooming rake untangles coats and removes mats. Rounded pins minimize tugging and skin irritation too. 

2. Gently Hold Your Puppy’s Face & Paws

Professional groomers will use a face-holding technique while brushing and trimming around your pup’s eyes and mouth to stop them from moving and getting injured. Practice the face hold beforehand by showing them a treat and asking them to sit. Place your hand under their chin and gently hold onto your pup’s fur. If they sit still, reward them. You can repeat this until they’re able to sit for 30 seconds. Then stroke their face in between their eyes with your finger and the end of a comb, pretending it's scissors. 

You’ll also need to get your furry companion used to having their paws handled. Get them to sit and lift one of their paws. Play with it by feeling gently all around the nails and in-between paw pads, then reward them with a treat before returning the paw to the ground. Your pup may try to bite you. If this happens, firmly say no and pause what you’re doing.

A disembodied hand holding a brown dog's paw on a dock on a cloudy overcast day.

3. Add Regular Home Bathing to Your Routine

Another way to prepare your pet for their first dog grooming session is to bathe your dog at home. This will get them used to water, soaps, and the general bathing process. Again, remember to positively reinforce good behavior, including sitting still. Make sure you choose the right shampoo with natural fragrances that are easier on your dog’s skin.

Go with a gentle shampoo that’s specifically designed for younger dogs to ensure the best results for your puppy. If they have dry skin, they'll benefit from a moisturizing formula too. 

But whatever you do, never use human shampoo on your pup. It can disrupt your dog’s acid mantle and leave them vulnerable to viruses, parasites, and bacteria. 

4. Get Your Puppy Used to Dryers & Loud Noises

If your pup isn’t used to loud noises, they may not feel comfortable around professional grooming equipment. For this reason, getting them comfortable with the sound of dryers can help prepare them for their first session. Ask your dog to sit and place some treats in front of you. Use the hairdryer to blow the treat towards your pup and reinforce good behavior to help them feel calm. Your dog will gradually associate “a scary noise” with something fun. 

5. Brush Your Puppy’s Teeth

Brushing your dog’s teeth can reduce plaque, prevent bad breath, and protect against gum disease or tooth decay. Not only that, but brushing their teeth regularly will help them get acquainted with a process that’s part of a professional groom.

A disembodied hand holding a finger-slip toothbrush in the foreground with a dog in the background..

To ease them into it, place a small amount of dog toothpaste onto your hand and waft it around their nose. Then, open their mouth and rub it on their teeth. If your pup begins to bite, pause what you’re doing and calm them down. Once they’re used to the paste, use a dog toothbrush on their teeth as well. It can take a few attempts but you’ll get there eventually. Just be sure to continue rewarding good behavior and never use human toothpaste, as certain brands include an artificial sweetener that’s toxic for canines. 

The right technique and products will improve your dog’s oral hygiene, and here are some of our picks below:

6. Practice Training Commands

Professional groomers normally use commands like “sit” and “stay” to get your puppy in the right position and keep them calm. As a result, it’s a good idea to ensure they’ve mastered these instructions.

While your dog is standing, show them a treat and lift it over their head, then ask them to sit. When they sit down, praise them. To teach them to stay while they’re sitting or standing, say the words “stay” and hold your hand out as if to say stop, then wait a few seconds and reward them with a treat

We’re often asked: when can I take my puppy to the groomer? In addition to being fully vaccinated, we suggest taking them as soon as your puppy is potty trained. A professional grooming session can take up to two hours, so if your pup does accidentally go to the bathroom during their wash, much of the process will have to begin again.

7. Slowly Introduce Nail Trimming & Ear Cleaning

Ear cleaning can prevent a buildup of wax and reduce the risk of ear infections for your dog. Similarly, cutting their nails can prevent you from being injured and make them feel more comfortable. While you’re watching TV, tap your pup’s paw with a remote control. This will get them used to the idea of something touching their paws. Another tip is to lift their paw and give it a gentle squeeze. Don’t forget to use a calming voice and reward positive behavior.

When it comes to cleaning their ears, begin rubbing while gently holding onto their ears. You can then begin to inspect them before using any products. It’s essential that the products you do use are suitable for dogs to ensure a safe and effective treatment. Here are two good examples:

We know that nail trimming and ear cleaning can be a tricky task, which is why we recommend you seek out help from professionals like our groomers at Barkbus. Get in touch with our friendly team if you need assistance!

8. Lots of Exercise is Important

One of the most important tips before your puppy heads to their grooming session is to get some good exercise — which includes taking them on a walk and indulging in some playtime. This will help your dog use up their excess energy, helping to make them calmer and better prepared to follow instructions from their professional groomer. 

A young boy in a blue shirt chasing a Jack Russell with a leash on in a yard.

We’ll Be Here When They’re Ready

Professional grooming is a great way to pamper your pup, enhance their appearance, and maintain overall health. To help them get the most out of their sessions, use our above tips on how to train a dog to sit still for grooming.

Never worry about making travel plans or separation anxiety when you use Barkbus! Our mobile groomers will come straight to your door to ensure that both you and your pup enjoy the most convenient grooming experience possible. Book your appointment today to get your puppy looking and feeling their best again.


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