Helpful puppy grooming tips

Puppy grooming

Long-haired or short-haired, small or big, no matter what your puppy looks like, they need grooming. Grooming is about far more than just maintaining your puppy’s appearance, though that is a part of it.

You can generally start professional grooming when your puppy is around 3-4 months (or when it has had its shots.) While you do not need to go to a groomer, grooming has to be done to ensure your puppy stays healthy, clean and looking its best.

Puppy grooming at home versus a salon

Grooming your puppy at home or at a salon is really your choice, however, for any home groomers, it is important not to underestimate the job.

Puppy grooming involves sharp tools and an often agitated puppy, which is not a great combination for beginners.

Remember puppies need to be groomed, so there is no harm in going to professionals if you do not have the time to learn all of the skills.

It is fine to bathe, brush, and wash your puppy at home and pay for other more difficult services such as nail clipping.

Many may also find it easier to pay for professional grooming until your puppy is better trained to stay still.

How to make your puppy sit still while grooming?

puppy grooming tips

Though most dogs learn to love grooming, it is pretty normal for your puppy to give you a hard time in the first few sessions. That being said it is not too difficult to teach your puppy to stay still by working your way up, using distraction, and positive reinforcement.

When you begin puppy grooming it is important to start off with the safest and least threatening tasks. Stay away from nail clippings, hair cuts, or anything that involves a sharp object at first.

If your puppy has a hard time staying still while you brush them, trying to cut its fur will be a nightmare. As a dog slowly grows to trust whoever is grooming them, they will be more accepting of the more intimidating grooming tools and tasks.

Use distraction

If your puppy is restless and excited while you are trying to groom them, using a distraction can make a big difference. This can be as simple as having someone else feed your puppy little treats while you brush its fur.

Taking your puppy’s attention away from the grooming helps show them your moving hands are not toys and get them used to the feeling of grooming.

Positive reinforcement

No matter what you are trying to teach your puppy, the most reliable and effective technique is positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement will help if your puppy is scared, too excited or restless during grooming.

Bring your puppy to the place you plan on grooming them and just have them sit still. You do not have to bring out any grooming tools at first, just have them sit normally. If your puppy can stay still for a minute give them a treat and some praise. Gradually introduce your grooming tools and continue to increase the amount of time, offering praise and treats every time they sit still successfully.

How to make grooming a pleasant experience for your puppy?

The most important thing your puppy needs to enjoy grooming is trust for the person grooming them. If you are taking your puppy to a groomer, the groomer should introduce themselves in a loving way.

It is important to start off a puppy and groomer’s relationship with soft speaking, cuddles, and affection. This almost works as a positive reinforcement to encourage your puppy to view grooming as pleasant and fun.

Avoid stressing out your puppy

Whether you are grooming at home or at a salon, it is crucial to avoid stressing out your puppy. It can really help to start with some short easy sessions that will help your puppy get used to being groomed.

Most importantly, the first experience has to be a good one, so that means you may want to refrain from doing any real grooming at all. Though puppies grow to love grooming, you have to be patient as grooming is completely alien and frightening to any puppy at first.

Essential puppy grooming supplies

The tools you will need for grooming really depend on your breed of dog and how much grooming your plan on doing at home.

1. A dog brush and comb

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A high-quality dog brush or comb are essential tools for keeping your puppy’s coat healthy, mat-free and looking good. Brushes and combs work pretty similarly, except a comb can help you target a specific area.

There are many different puppy grooming combs and brushes out there so it can help to test out a few different ones to see what works the best. For puppies that shed excessively, you may want to keep on hand a de-shedder comb. These have longer and stronger bristles to take out some of your puppy’s loose fur.

2. A dog shampoo and conditioner

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Every puppy, no matter its coat, needs occasional bathing with a dog shampoo. Dog shampoos are meant to make your puppy smell better, look better, prevent fleas, and relieve any itchy skin.

A dog conditioner is a little less essential, depending on your puppy’s hair type and length. If your puppy’s fur is kept long and is prone to tangles you will definitely want to invest in a conditioning product. Do not use your own shampoos and conditioners as they may contain chemicals or products that are unsafe for your puppy.

3. Dog nail clippers

Nado Care Dog Nail Clippers

Dog nails are quite a bit stronger and thicker so they require a more powerful tool than we use on our own nails. A dog nail clipper has to be non-slip, sharp, powerful and have safety to prevent clipping your puppy’s nails too short.

Click here for a list of the best dog nail clippers in 2020.

4. Dog toothpaste and brush

Do not use your own toothpaste as there are some chemicals that may be dangerous for your puppy to consume. Instead, use any dog toothpaste which is safe for your puppy and specifically targets issues dog’s teeth face. The best part about dog toothpaste is that they come in flavors that your puppy will actually enjoy having in its mouth, making your job a lot easier.

A dog toothbrush is completely optional, though it can make brushing your puppy’s teeth faster and a little less gross. Generally, a doggy toothbrush will fit on your finger so you can use the same motions as you would cleaning your puppy’s teeth without it. A dog toothbrush works similarly to a human toothbrush but has softer bristles that will provide a deep clean in less time than you could achieve with your finger alone.

A grooming checklist

Fur grooming

All dogs, regardless of the breed need to be brushed at least once a week and bathed at least every few months. This is necessary to prevent mats, knots, and buildups as well as to distribute your puppy’s natural oils that keep its fur healthy and shiny.

That being said, your puppy’s coat type and fur length really do affect the amount and type of grooming that is necessary. Fur grooming may require all or some of the following tools; a brush, comb, shampoo, conditioner, de-shedding tool, and hair clippers.

If your puppy hates bathing you can make the experience more soothing by bathing indoors, using something non-slip on the floor and avoiding loud strong shower heads. It is important to slowly introduce your puppy to both bathing and hair cutting to ensure they do not develop an anxiety attached to it.

For bathing allow them to get used to getting wet without using any products at first. For hair cutting, open and close hair trimmers so that they are used to the sounds. Start by cutting small sections and stop as soon as your puppy is uncomfortable.

Silky-coated dogs

Silky coated dogs are generally light shedders, which means their coat requires trims and cuts. The amount of work your puppy’s coat requires really depends on the length at which you keep its fur.

If you tend to keep your puppy’s hair quite short, it will need regular brushing and a trim every two to three months. On the other hand, if you like your puppy with longer hair, regular brushing and thorough grooming with a conditioning product every 4-6 weeks will be necessary to prevent mats.

Short-haired dogs

To determine what grooming is necessary for your short-haired puppy, it is first important to know if your puppy is a shedder or not.

If your puppy sheds excessively, thorough brushings at least once a month will be necessary to keep its fur clean and to help reduce their shedding.

Short-haired, low shedding puppies really only require minimal brushing. That being said, both high and low shedding short-haired dogs need occasional baths to keep their fur clean.


A double coat refers to a coat that has a dense, thick undercoat of fur underneath thinner hairs. This may be apparent by a change of color, texture, or if your puppy’s fur is extremely fluffy.

Double-coated puppies require a different treatment than just single-coated breeds as they usually shed seasonally and their fur tends to mat quite easily. It is important to brush your puppy weekly, especially when they are not in their shedding seasons.

Generally, double-coated dogs grow long hairs which mats very easily, on their bellies, ears and legs. Try to remember to brush these areas or alternatively you may choose to trim this long fur every few months.

Dogs with Curly or Wavy Fur

Dogs with curly or wavy coats have fur that is very prone to matting. A puppy with a short curly or wavy coat needs to be brushed at least twice a week and those with longer fur will need brushing daily.

To prevent serious matting, thorough grooming is necessary every 4-6 weeks or so. If matting does occur, bring your puppy right to the groomers as it can be quite difficult to cut it out without hurting your puppy.

Nail clipping

Trimming a dog’s nails is an essential, non-skippable part of grooming. Dog nails grow very similarly to ours and unless they often run on abrasive surfaces such as concrete, their nails will not wear down naturally.

A nail that is too long will cause discomfort on the nail bed every time your puppy walks and also runs the risk of getting torn off which is as painful as it sounds.

Frequency of nail clipping

How often you should trim your puppy’s nails really depends on how quickly they grow. Generally, once your puppy’s nails are long enough to reach the ground and you hear them clipping the floor when they walk, its nails are ready to be trimmed. Depending on the surfaces your puppy walks on, its nails can reach nail clipping length every week, every month or every few months.

How to clip?

To clip your puppy’s nails it is important to first get it used to you holding its paws. If it is restless, jumpy or biting while you hold it’s paws, your puppy is not yet ready for you to clip its nails. Use the tips above to train your puppy to stay still while grooming before you start introducing nail clipping.

While you are teaching your puppy to get used to having its paw held, you want to gradually introduce the nail clippers.

Don’t make the experience negative, offer treats and rewards so they form a positive association with the nail clippers.

Once your puppy is able to be calm with the process, hold the clippers at a 45-degree angle and clip the nail carefully stopping before you get to the live part of the nail.

Teeth care

Dental care is an extremely essential part of grooming that is often overlooked by dog owners. Do not put off brushing your puppy’s teeth as they only become more averse to it as they get older.

You can start by putting some dog toothpaste on your fingers and gently massaging it into your puppy’s gums while they are sleepy.

Do not be aggressive, if you start young, make it enjoyable and keep it calm; your puppy will likely not be against it.

Ideally, once your puppy is used to teeth brushing you would want to create a routine of at least 3-4 sessions a week.

Eye cleaning

Certain breeds of dogs’ eyes often gather dirt and produce a discharge that needs to be cleaned to prevent eye infections.

Cleaning your puppy’s eyes daily is really simple but can help you prevent some serious visits to the vet in the future.

Soak a clean cloth with lukewarm water and a canine eyewash or saline solution, and gently wipe the fur beneath your puppy’s eyes.

Ear cleaning

Puppy grooming ear cleaning

The type and frequency of ear cleaning required really comes down to your breed of dog.

Some dogs’ ears naturally clean themselves out and virtually require no cleaning, while other puppies’ ears develop a buildup of dirt. It is important to do some more research into your breed and consult your vet to know what your puppy needs.

If your puppy is shaking its head a lot, it may indicate that its ears are itchy and need a cleaning. That being said, do not overdo it as many ear issues can develop from overcleaning your puppy’s ears.

It can help to add a bit of veterinarian-approved ear cleaning solution into your puppy’s ears, as this will help loosen the build-up making it easier to cleanout. Let your puppy shake its head and the buildup in its ears should naturally come out. You can then use a cotton ball to gently wipe out the ear canal and a towel to clean up your puppy’s face.

Beware this can be a messy process so you may want to clean your puppy’s ears outside or in a bathroom.


Puppy grooming is not just for beautiful silky haired dogs and every breed of dog requires some form of grooming. While there is some grooming that is generalized such as nail trimming and brushing, every breed has different grooming requirements, so it is important to do your research.

Grooming is more than just a spa day for your puppy and avoiding it can lead to some pretty serious health issues. Just remember, the quicker you introduce grooming to your puppy the more they will love it, so start young and be patient.

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