How to successfully introduce grooming to your new puppy
Written by Stephanie Zikmann – Founder of The Holistic Grooming Academy Ltd.
Disclaimer: For the purposes of ease of flow, I will be referring to the dog as masculine (he/him).
A puppy should be getting positively introduced to handling, brushing and other basic husbandry tasks from a very young age.
While still in the litter, a puppy will be groomed regularly by the mother and siblings in what is often referred to as “comfort behaviours” by zoologists.
Grooming, in its most natural and indigenous sense, is an enjoyable activity that helps to enhance social bonds, health and overall well-being. The process of allo-grooming is a mutual beneficial experience that releases hormones associated with love and relaxation – Serotonin and Oxytocin.
From the moment a puppy is born, the mother will lick him clean — this first interaction not only ensures that the puppy’s breathing orifices are clear to enable him to breathe, but it provides instant comfort helping to keep the puppy calm while he decompresses to the new environment around him. What’s more, the mother dog will also release endorphins, helping to bring her back to a parasympathetic state after delivery.
When a puppy is taken away from all that he knows, the environment can instantly become incredibly stressful. This unfamiliarity and uncertainty can cause a whole host of anxiety for a puppy who is missing the warmth and comforts of the only family he has ever known.
Comfort grooming, a series of low-stress comfort behaviour exercises, can prove to help soothe a fearful puppy by offering him something mildly familiar when introduced in a calm and positive way, setting really strong foundations to more progressive grooming tasks to come
Brushing and combing
To summarise, the information provided in this educational piece scratches the surface of what conventional grooming entails. Professional groomers rely on dog carers investing time in helping to raise confident and resilient dogs, by working on these simple but significant tasks.
When both pet professional and carer can learn to successfully work together as a team, we see much greater progress over a shorter period of time.