I have been lucky enough at Stylish Fido here in Steyning to have quite a few new puppies in for their first groom.
Thought it might be interesting to share how I approach their first experiences in a salon.
Dogs use all their senses to understand and learn about their new world they are experiencing for the first time, so I work with them at all times.
When they sit/stand on the table (which is very similar to a vet’s table, so they are often ok with this kind of experience), I try and treat them with their favourite treat brought with them, or little pieces of cheese (often a big hit), I show them first the brush I might be using on them, and its very important for them to be able to sniff the brush/comb/clippers. Puppies don’t like equipment being used on them they haven’t seen or sniffed. Once they are sure it can’t (or shouldn’t) be eaten, I can start to brush out the dog.
If I am clipping the dog for the first time I always let them sniff and feel the clippers not switched on, then switched on, but sitting on the table. The vibrations of the clippers is probably nothing like they have felt before. I also use the clippers like a brush and move it (turned off) along the back of the dog and down the legs. I have had very few dogs that have not allowed me to clip them first time after first preparing them in this way.
During the groom, I make sure there are lots of treats.
During the groom, I make sure there are lots of words of praise.
During the groom, I make sure there are lots of cuddles (if required), if the puppy needs assurance, then I will stop the groom and give them some time and space to assess the experience. Sometimes just stopping for one minute, having a cuddle or a play in the garden can help them understand that a groom isn’t a traumatic experience and it will stop!
If the puppy is having problems coping with one aspect of the groom (say brushing out the legs), I just change and come back later to that area, lots of little changes can really make the difference.
The main objective I aim for is to stop when I am ahead and not seek utter perfection on a puppy’s first groom. if this means the ears are left natural, but the puppy has been 100% happy and not bored for 1.5 hours then I will stop. Puppies can’t concentrate for too long, and I would rather do most of a groom and have a happy puppy than a perfect looking one, but one that is in need of a break and upset and won’t come back through the door next time it is due for a wash.
I must say, all my puppies/young dogs are keen to come to the salon for a biscuit/cuddle and groom. I think this says it all !
hope you enjoyed the little insight into what I do here. hope to see more puppies soon, I love their cuddles!