You have reached that puppy raising milestone! It is time for your new puppy to have their first groom!
However, have you thought about the steps you need to have in place to prepare your pupster for the groomers? Early socialisation experiences can shape a puppies future behaviour, so how do we get this bit right? Read Fido’s story, and get my five top tips to make sure your little Fido is groomer ready!
Fido is ready to have his first trim! You have selected your groomer, booked the appointment and he is going to return home looking fresh and smelling like candy floss… scrummy puppy!
Fido however is blissfully unaware of his appointment. He is parading around the garden carrying your flipflop, working out the best hiding spot for a major chew sesh. The next thing Fido knows he is at the “groomers” that actually looks and smells quite like the vets (he went to that new place recently too and they injected him… it was OUCHY!)
Fido is all of a sudden not too sure about how his day is panning out…..
Fido finds himself on his own, with strange people, equipment, smells and sounds….and worse than that, his flipflop is nowhere to be seen. In the crate next door is a seriously honking Labradoodle who has not been groomed since before lockdown. She knows what is coming and is patiently awaiting her turn in the tub.
The water is warm and the hands are kind, but they are unfamiliar and smell odd… the liquid stuff splashes in his eyes and a little bit gets up his nose. Fido snorts and feels a little defensive. The rubbing starts and then the water runs down his coat again, around his paws and away, the radio is on, and the lady is chatting, but Fido can’t hear because the water is whooshing past his ears.
Scooped up and sat on a dry table now, the towel smells unfamiliar and he still can’t see Mum, never mind the flipflop. All he wanted was the tasty, chewy flipflop…. A warm wind arrives, blowing and pushing, it’s a funny sensation, Fido doesn’t mind it, but it is very noisy, he is a little unsure, moving away from it, he loses a foot off the end of the table…. whoa… panic…. and then simultaneously a tension around his neck where the grooming table tie holds him in place. He can’t fall backwards, but he can’t move forwards. This is not what Fido calls a fun day out.
Next comes a brush, Fido likes the soothing feeling, but quickly it turns to a buzzing, vibrating thing and it feels WEIRD! Fido is not happy to “give” this strange lady his leg for that weird vibrating thing to touch, and it pulls on his coat a bit and tickles and feels very strange. If Fido moves, he knows he could fall, and if he doesn’t fall the tie around his neck tightens.
The lady holds his leg firm and it won’t stop, the noise, the smell, the sensation, Fido is tired, Fido can’t process all of his senses, Fido turns his head away, licks his lips, closes his eyes and blinks a lot, trying to tell everyone he can’t cope, but they are on a schedule and the stinky Labradoodle is next, so onwards with the trim. After all he “will learn” won’t he? Quietly Fido submits, emotionally shuts down and complies…. Fido is given his “fresh puppy trim” and Fido smells like candy floss.
What Fido learnt is that trips away from home are stressful. Fido has learnt that places like the vets and the groomers are not fun. Fido has learnt to shut down in order to cope instead of being listened to and being allowed to process each element of the grooming process. All Fido wanted was his flipflop and quiet corner of the garden in which to chew it…. dog’s don’t book grooming appointments!
So what are we going to do to make sure that Fido does not have this experience? Fido is going to have to be groomed for the remainder of his life, so it is our responsibility to make sure he can cope with it. It is also unfair to put your groomer in harm’s way. If Fido feels threatened he may bite, which is an unacceptable situation for everyone to be in.
Here are 5 handy tips on what you can do to prepare Fido for grooming;
- Take Fido to the groomers for a “social trip” before you leave him there for a clip. Let him sniff, listen and see the sights and sounds so he is familiar with them without any pressure.
- Fido’s first session should be a bath and a claw clip only. Short and sweet, an easy lesson for him to learn.
- Use an electric toothbrush on Fido’s coat at home, especially his paws and ears, so he is used to and familiar with the sensation and sound of clippers.
- Make sure he is happy with people he knows holding his paws, inspecting his ears, tail and toes. That way he will not feel so worried with a stranger handling him.
- Explain to the groomer that if he displays any behaviour that indicates stress they need to take a break, even if that means he comes home with half a haircut. He can always go back and be finished off.
Want to learn more about The Principles of Puppy Socialisation? Check out our new Level 2 Award for Owners, Pet Professionals and Breeders.
Have fun with your puppies, and enjoy them while the learn about the world and ensure their experiences are positive and manageable.
Much love…. Rebecca xx