How To Teach Your Puppy To Enjoy Being Groomed and Bathed with Dr Katrina
Congratulations to all new puppy owners!
Bringing home a new puppy is an exciting time for everyone; their antics are adorable, and smiles are guaranteed. They are also a big responsibility and many hours of work to ensure they grow into a social, well-mannered adult. We all want a confident dog in day-to-day situations, and that includes being comfortable being groomed and bathed.
No matter what breed, all dogs require regular grooming, but some a lot more than others depending on their coat. Training your puppy to enjoy being handled, groomed and bathed is an essential part of their training but something that is often overlooked when they are little. Handling your puppy regularly and correctly will help set them up to be an adult dog that is comfortable being touched.
Teach your puppy that they’ll get rewarded with treats whenever you touch or handle them on different parts of their body. For example, touch or gently brush your puppy’s tail and immediately give them a treat. Then, touch your puppy’s foot and give another treat. The goal is to teach your puppy that being in their space is safe and rewarding.
Houndztooth’s all-natural training treats or clean dog treats are 100% Australian made and sourced, and they make the perfect rewards for grooming and bath time training with your pup. Depending on the size of your puppy, ensure you break them down into smaller bite-size pieces beforehand.
Don’t forget to handle your pup’s ears, inside and out, very gently. Ears are sensitive so do a little touching, followed by a treat.
Recognise the areas where your puppy is uncomfortable being touched. Take these areas slowly using lots of treats as a reward.
As well as being touched, your puppy must learn to enjoy being brushed. Start with a soft bristle brush or grooming glove and gently massage your puppy by brushing in the direction of hair growth, giving verbal praise and treats. Brushing against the hair pattern may be uncomfortable for your puppy. Begin to brush at the back of the head, and work towards the tail and down the legs. Keep these first grooming sessions short and use lots of treats. Always end sessions on a happy note and play a short game to help your puppy associate grooming time with a pleasant outcome.
Puppies also need to learn to enjoy being bathed, and this must be done slowly as a bad experience early on may make bathing difficult for life.
To start, reward your puppy for being in the bath area without using any water. Give your puppy lots of praise and treats for calm behaviour. Do several sessions over a week or so, working up to having water running near your puppy. Reward your puppy for calm behaviour around the water. Once you feel ready to give your pup their first bath, I recommend having someone to help you. The second person can gently restrain your puppy and reward them with lots of treats or offer them something to lick as a distraction.
With your puppy being distracted by your helper, try to get the first bath done quickly. A handheld nozzle on a gentle setting and warm water is the easiest. Once wet, use a low-irritant shampoo that is formulated specifically for puppies like Houndztooth’s Puppy and Kitten Shampoo. Quickly towel dry and then have some playtime immediately after. If the weather is cold, your puppy should be dried thoroughly with a towel and kept somewhere warm.
To find out more, read Dr Katrina’s tips on training your puppy to enjoy bath time.