Teaching Your Puppy to Be HandledRegular grooming is one of the most important responsibilities pet parents have. By taking good care of your pet's coat, ears, teeth and nails, you'll keep him healthy and comfortable - not to mention nice to be near!

Unfortunately, puppies aren't born knowing how to behave during grooming sessions. They may not like having their ears cleaned or nails clipped. And they may try to pull away or even nip when touched in a sensitive area.

That's why it's so important to get puppy accustomed to being handled all over. The earlier you begin the process, the easier future grooming sessions will be - both for you and for the professional groomer. Start slowly, following these steps:

  • Run your hands over your dog's entire body, not just neck and back where she is accustomed to being petted. Handle her face, including ears, nose and mouth; her legs, especially her feet; and her stomach, tail and rear end.
  • Watch closely for a reaction. Are there some areas that seem sensitive? If so, don't force it; move to another area and try that spot again later.
  • Reward your pet so he learns to enjoy these sessions. Praise him as you move your hands to each area. Offer treats as you handle spots that evoke a nervous reaction.
  • Keep the sessions short at first. Practice several times each day for a few minutes. Lengthen the sessions as she relaxes and starts to enjoy being handled.

Once your dog is comfortable with being touched all over, introduce the brush or comb. Gently run it over all the areas you've been handling.

  • If your dog reacts negatively to tools, follow the same steps as above -- moving to another area of the body, offering treats, and keeping sessions short. Don't force the situation; you don't want him to learn to hate being groomed!
  • Gradually work up to longer brushing sessions, remembering to make contact with all parts of his body.
  • Teach puppy to stand still for nail trims by firmly holding puppy's paw up in position for the clipper. He'll try to pull away, so be firm but reward him with praise and treats.

Having established the basics, you're ready to schedule your dog's first session with a professional grooming. We'll share tips on what to expect and what to discuss with the groomer next time.