Puppy Baths & Grooming Tips
Just like you, your new companion needs regular grooming. And the earlier you start him, the more accustomed to it he will be. In fact, it will become something you both enjoy—a bonding opportunity to pour on the fun!
Okay, fair warning: Just like you, he's going to be wary of any new experience. So expect him to wiggle. A bathtub is always best—after all, it's got everything you need— a drain and a clean water supply.
Need a change of scenery? You'll need a plastic tub deep enough to handle the splashing and preferably one with a drain. Before starting, set out a large bucket of clean, lukewarm water for rinsing, plenty of towels, of course, and dog shampoo. (Your companion has unique skin and hair needs, and your bottle of shampoo won't suffice.) Some breeds have special needs. For instance, long-hair breeds, such as a Pomeranian, may need less frequent bathing, so consult your veterinarian for suggestions. Flea and tick shampoos are not recommended for puppies, by the way—a simple bath will suffice if he picks up any unwanted travelers. (Don't forget to wash his blankets.) And be sure to brush him before you bathe him.
The actual process is pretty simple. The key is making him feel safe. Comforting him, this is his first time after all, very gently ease him into a tub of ankle-deep water. Once he's settled and used to the idea of the water at his feet, stroke his back as you gently ladle water onto his back, until his body is wet, but not above his neck. Then carefully work the shampoo into the general direction of his hair. Keep a hand on him at all times for reassurance. After he's lathered, use a cup to rinse clean water over him, including his legs and belly, making sure to rinse thoroughly to prevent any skin irritation later.
Don't bathe him more than he needs it; only bathe your pup when circumstances warrant it, such as when he has taken a trip to the old mud-hole (or when he is otherwise noticeably dirty)!
Special areas: Avoid getting water in the ears. Use a clean washcloth; you can wash his face, neck and crown.
When you're done, quickly wrap your dog in a warm towel and gently towel-dry to prevent him from shaking off excess water and rolling around. (For these same reasons, keep him indoors for a while to prevent him from getting dirty all over again.) Depending on your puppy's size, you may need several towels. Finally, don't forget to treat afterward—using a special treat only reserved for bathing so he associates positive memories with bath time.
Grooming—from brushing to nails
Regular brushing is not only a good grooming habit; it's something he will enjoy together. Daily brushing is just fine; but note that dogs with double coats and dense undercoats benefit from frequent brushing to prevent tangles and to minimize shedding. Choose a brush based on your dog's size and coat type; a pin brush is great for dogs with an undercoat to remove mats or tangles without pulling much on the hair, and the softer ends will massage his skin and loosen any dirt or dead skin, while at the same time feeling like your gentle scratch. For a demonstration, see www.expertvillage.com/videos/dog-grooming-instructions-under.htm
Stand him on a flat surface. Keeping one hand on him at all times for support and reassurance, gently start at the base of the head and work your way back. Use a lot of praise, and gently stroke with the direction of the hair. Make this a special time for him—like a reward—and he'll look forward to it as much as he does his daily walks and treats.
A good diet and chew toys go a long way in tooth care, but weekly brushing with toothpaste specially formulated for dogs is strongly recommended. A gentle once-over with a meat-flavoured toothpaste will do your companion wonders and help ensure her smile.
Nail trimming is important for your puppy. A puppy has fast-growing nails, and you don't want him snagging them on carpet or causing him discomfort when he walks on hard surfaces. During your puppy's check-up, ask your veterinarian for tips.
Using dog nail clippers, gently trim small amounts at a time. Never cut too close to the quick—it's as painful for him as when you cut your fingernails back too far, and he has to walk on his. Use a nail file to round or soften the tips, although if you take him for walks on concrete sidewalks, they will generally round out quickly.
This bit of grooming is the one he's going to least enjoy—dogs just don't like it when people mess with their feet—but it's as important as any other. Just offer him a lot of reassurance and reward him for his patience!