How to raise a happy dog – Part 12: Grooming your puppy
This is the 12th article of the series “How to raise a happy dog”.
This series is brought to you by Jacket Rust
Get your pup accustomed to getting a bath while he is still small enough to handle easily, starting 4 months after completing all vaccinations. Never ever use harsh shampoos and never use laundry products – your dog’s system can not cope with these and they could cause serious long-term harm. If your puppy is not smelly use warm water only, if in need of a shampoo use a mix 50% baby shampoo and 50% water, or purchase a very mild gentle dog shampoo for dog and water that down. Take care not to get water in his ears or eyes, or shampoo anywhere on his head. Leave his head dry if possible and use a wet towel or cloth to rub his head down. Of course if your dog is smelly or dirty they require a bath, but be aware that frequent bathing will strip the natural oils from his coat. Read more on bathing your dog.
You must keep your dogs nails trimmed. A dog that doesn’t get his nails trimmed may have damage to his feet from too long nails OR scratch you or your family members or floor and furniture, because he doesn’t feel his nail tips.
Start trimming your pup’s nails as soon as you get him. Puppy nails grow rapidly, so you will need to do this frequently. Once your dog grows up, about once a month should be sufficient. If you do this now he will learn to accept it, but if you wait until he is grown.. you will probably have a fight on your hands. Don’t put off learning to do your dog’s nails. “I can’t do it because I am afraid I will hurt him” is no excuse. Believe me you will hurt him more by letting it go.
You can ask the breeder, your vet or someone experienced in nail clipping to demonstrate the correct procedure. The board below will also help you understand nail clipping:
There are ways to make your puppy less upset during nail trimming. You can add it to your daily interaction with your puppy – massage its legs, gently squeeze a foot, rub its tummy and scratch its head while talking to it gently and soothingly. Your puppy will grow to love this treatment every bit as much as we humans love a back rub. Trimming nails when the puppy is sleepy is also helpful. Have an assistant distract the puppy with a very tasty chew toy and talk calmly. Remove only the tip of the nail at a time – it’s better to follow this method over frequent sessions than to put the job off too long and then try to cut back too much at once. If you do hit the quick (which is hard to see on black nails) it’s not the end of the world. Generally, all you need to do to stop the bleeding is to apply pressure to the nail tip for a few minutes while you keep the puppy resting quietly.
By Petra Wafa
Certified dog trainer, Jacket Rust