Lesa Laster, The Dog House

Congratulations, you got a new puppy! With your new family member come many responsibilities, including grooming. If you got a short-haired puppy, the grooming needs differ greatly than if your pup has longer hair. This article will focus on long-haired breeds, including the Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier, and Doodle puppies (breeds mixed with Poodles).

In all the excitement of adopting your new puppy, you may not have read up on what would make life easier for you, your puppy, and your groomer. The tips below will help you help your puppy become one that your groomer can’t wait to see.           

First and foremost is brushing on a regular basis. For Shih Tzu and Yorkie puppies, a good pin brush and metal comb will work perfectly. For Doodle varieties, you will want to use either a pin brush or a soft slicker brush during puppyhood, and then switch to a medium slicker brush when your puppy is older.

Getting your puppy used to brushing is as simple as making it a training exercise with lots of praise and treats. If she is fearful or tries to bite the brush, have a helper feed treats while you gently brush her. She will soon learn that brushing equals treats and lots of praise! Practice in 5 minute sessions at first, increasing time as your puppy gets comfortable with it.
Next is getting your puppy used to having her paws handled. Gently holding each of her paws will help her get used to being handled by your groomer. To get puppy used to the clipper/nail grinder, gently rub the handle of an electric toothbrush or razor up and down her foot and leg. Give treats and praise while doing this. Puppies accept this much easier when you are relaxed, and when they have had time to run and play beforehand.      

You will want to get your puppy used to having clippers/thinners near his eyes. This can easily be accomplished by rubbing the back of a spoon against his eyes. Once he is used to this, try rubbing the electric toothbrush/razor against the eye area. The vibrations mimic the electric clipper that is sometimes used to clean out the hair between the eyes.                                    Additionally, you can rub the electric toothbrush/clipper all over your puppy’s body to mimic the groomer’s clippers. Look inside his ears and gently rub them to get him comfortable with routine ear cleaning by the groomer. Always remember to give lots of praise and treats. Keep your sessions short and happy. Establish a routine, and your puppy will look forward to it.           

After the second set of vaccines, it’s best to establish regular sessions with your groomer. Between grooms, you may need to bathe your puppy. Brush her out before the bath. Bathing with tangles and knots only causes them to get tighter.

If you are bathing a Shih Tzu or Yorkie, you might try putting her in the kitchen sink to make her more secure. Use a good quality puppy shampoo and conditioner. Blow dry your puppy with a hand held blow dryer on low heat setting, gently brushing as you dry. You may need a helper at first. After your puppy learns that bath time means more attention and praise, she will learn to enjoy her bath.
Preparing your puppy for the groomer doesn’t have to be hard for you or your puppy. Practicing the simple steps above, along with regular visits to your groomer, will result in a puppy that is happy to be groomed – not to mention a happy groomer. Continuing to follow the routine between grooms will allow you to check your dog over for anything that needs the attention of your groomer or veterinarian. It will also deepen the bond with your new best friend!


The lifestyle magazine for Oklahoma City dog lovers.