A Puppy’s First Groom

If there is one thing guaranteed to raise a smile here at Clipsters, it’s a puppy’s first visit. The first groom is an introduction to the smells, sights and sounds of the grooming space and the equipment used. Regular grooming is important for a dog’s health, so it’s vital their first visit is a positive one.

Clipsters of Walthamstow dog grooming customer photo
Winston the Cockerpoo puppy visiting Clipsters for his first groom

When should my puppy have its first groom?

For most puppy’s they can be groomed a couple of weeks after they’ve had their final vaccinations. Depending on your vet’s advice, this is usually around 12 weeks old.

What should we expect when we first visit Clipsters?

All Clipster appointments start with the customer filling in a client record card and discussing what they want whilst I introduce myself to the dog. Some puppies will be jumping all over me and licking my ear off, others will be a little more cautious and take a little time to be coaxed before being handled. Either way, it tells me a lot about the pup and how I am going to manage their introduction to grooming.

Making a puppy comfortable before grooming

Once the customer has completed their card we then discuss what I hope to achieve during the groom. Quite often the owner will be the nervous one and not the dog!  I will go through the whole grooming process and put the owner’s mind at ease. We will take our time and go at the puppy’s pace. I will also send text updates to the owner to let them know their pup is safe and well and adapting to the new experience.

Once the groom has been discussed I ask the owner to walk away without any fuss so the pup is not anxious that they are being left. Once the owner is out of sight the dog will readily follow me into the house and through to the garden and our purpose-built grooming pod.

The puppy is then given plenty of time to explore and smell the small, enclosed garden and to wander around the grooming pod at their own pace. I put them onto the grooming table and let them have a sniff around and put a leash on them so they are safe and secure. When they are comfortable and satisfied that the table is a safe place it’s off to the bath we go.

Washing and drying a puppy

Some puppies are wary of the sound and sensation of a shower head, so a jug can be used to wash them and to rinse out the shampoo and conditioner. I always use specialised, gentle shampoos on puppies and will also use shampoos for sensitive skin if the owner has alerted me to any possible issues.

Again, the pup is secured loosely but safely in the bath and we take our time. I never rush a puppy through the grooming process. We take breaks between stages and I give plenty of tickles and strokes to help them feel safe and comfortable. I also have one hand on the pup throughout, so they do not feel afraid or that they’re on their own. Most puppies enjoy a nice, gentle face massage before being towel dried and then going back to the table. A little homemade biscuit treat may be on hand before the drying begins.

Clipsters’ professional grooming table and dryer

The dryer can be a bit scary for some pups. It’s quite loud and strange to them. First I introduce them to the dryer before switching it on, so we get any sniffs and bites out of the way if needed! I then turn the dryer on but directed away from the puppy so they can become accustomed to the noise. The air is then slowly directed onto the pup from a distance so as not to overwhelm them. More treats are on hand as and when needed and again, we take our time and will stop if it’s all getting a bit much.

After the drying I will gauge the puppy’s needs. Do they need to play and run around a bit to release some stress? Are they calm and happy to continue? Or do they need a few minutes quiet time with some gentle stroking? Whatever they need, they get.

Clipping puppy nails and coat

On the table, the puppy’s nails are then trimmed a tiny bit. Keeping a dog’s nails under control is important, so it’s good to start this early in a dog’s life so they are not anxious in the future. Owners can help a bit here by regularly holding their puppy’s feet and legs so they get used to the sensation, even if they’re not actually clipping the nails themselves.

After nail clipping it’s time for the hair clippers to be shown to the pup so they can sniff them. The clippers are then turned on so the dog can hear the noise, and then they’re gently rubbed on the puppy’s body so they get used to the vibration. Similarly grooming scissors are also introduced and sniffed at before making a gentle cutting action at a safe distance away from the dog, again so they get used to the sound and movement.

It is always safety first with grooming. If I cannot safely trim around a puppy’s eyes or face, or they become agitated, then we’ll leave it and will do more during their next grooming visit.

Then it’s time for the puppy haircut, based on what’s right for the breed, time of year and the owner’s preference. Once the trim is complete (and a little spritz of puppy perfume applied) the pup has a little play time!  It is important to end on a positive note so the dog is happy to come back. I’ll text the owner around 30 minutes from when the groom should be finished and always allow for a bit of fun time whilst we wait.

When collected the pup goes home smelling fresh, looking adorable and wagging their tail! They will also take home some nasty-free homemade doggy biscuits and a report card to share with the family.

At Clipsters, first grooms for puppies are a standard £25* regardless of how much work can be done (it’s usually plenty!), then subsequent grooms increase by £5 a time until the full groom price for the size of dog is reached (see details of our costs here). It is recommended that most dogs are groomed every 6-8 weeks, depending on breed and lifestyle.

If you have any questions or want to book a groom, please get in touch to discuss your pup’s needs.

* correct as of July 2020

© Clipsters 2020