Bringing puppy in for the first groom depends a lot on what kind of dog you have, the age you brought your dog home and your dogs background.
First, let’s talk about what a first puppy visit entails.
I prefer not to give a full haircut to a dog on their first visit to the groomer. The first visit to the groomer is very overwhelming for a puppy. For many dogs, this is their first time away from mom and dad for an extended period of time. Even if you have already given your puppy a bath at home, the tub at the grooming shop looks and smells different. The groomers are brand new people, and there are so many sights and sounds that your puppy has never experienced before. Plus, puppies are fluffy balls of wiggle. So on top of a puppy wanting to see everything they can see, meet all the new friends they can, and just generally being a wiggle butt, any haircut attempted is, at best, very choppy and uneven, and at worst, potentially dangerous. So for the first visit, we like to do a bath, blow dry, nail clip, ear cleaning, full brush out and light trimming around their face and feet if needed. We will also turn on the clippers and hold them near the dog all while praising them and rewarding their good behavior. This is a great way to get your dog used to the groomer without trying too much.
Now, when should I bring a puppy in?
In general, puppies should visit the groomer no earlier than 12 weeks to ensure that they have their first round of shots, and no later than 6 months. Ideally, we see a new puppy in between 12-16 weeks. The window for socialization starts to close for dogs at 4 months. This does not mean that you cannot acclimate your dog to grooming if they are outside of this window. It does mean that it can get harder to do the older they get. A one year old dog will most likely be much more stressed out by the grooming process than a 6 month old.
What if you just rescued a pup and they’re outside the age range mentioned above? Don’t worry! Give your new pup a few weeks to adjust to their new home and their new life before bringing them into the groomer. There is a lot of change happening in your new dogs life and we don’t want to give them more than they can handle.
What puppies need to visit the groomer?
All of them! “But I just have a lab puppy, why do I need a groomer?” Even for our customers whose dogs don’t need a haircut, we recommend bringing your puppy in young and often. So many times I get phone calls from people with senior dogs who have never been to a groomer. Their pups are now too old or delicate to be groomed at home and they are hoping for a professional's help. The problem here is, the groom will be more detrimental than beneficial. For our seniors, the grooming is just as overwhelming as it is for a puppy, but because they have never experienced the sights and sounds of a grooming salon, they can easily get hurt. Either from fighting against something they don’t want done, or from the stress of simply doing something new. If you can bring your lab puppy in every few months, even just for mainly nail trims, we can work to make them comfortable at the salon.
Think about it like the dentist. So many of us hate going to the dentist, so we put it off for years and years. When we finally cave and go in, we’re stressed out about what’s going to happen. Now imagine if you knew that you HAD to go to the dentist every 3 months. Would you like it? Probably not, but, you would hunker down and get it over with fairly pain free because you know what’s about to happen. By letting your dog get comfortable with their groomers and the grooming environment, you are setting your dog up for a lifetime of grooming success!
Of course, each dog is an individual, and we will treat them as such. So, reach out to your groomer and ask them any questions so you and your pup are both comfortable and ready for the first groom!