Puppy Grooming:  When To Start Grooming Your Puppy

WRITTEN BY STACY | EVERYTHINGSHIHTZU.COM

A groomed puppy under a purple towel with a brush and bar of soap nearby

A new puppy brings with it lots of joy, work, and questions. If you find yourself the proud parent of a new Shih Tzu puppy, then you’re probably really excited; they’re super cute! 

However, puppies come with lots of responsibilities, one of which is grooming.

Especially when it comes to Shih Tzu, who are known for being one of the higher maintenance dog breeds.

The best time to start grooming a Shih Tzu puppy is as soon as it is able to be safely handled, around 10 to 12 weeks. Most likely your new pup will have already had an initial bath from the breeder.

Therefore, you can wait until about 12 weeks, but then you want to start a grooming routine so that your Shih Tzu can get used to the process.

First things first, don’t get intimidated by the thought of grooming your Shih Tzu, you can take things a step at a time.

Depending on what style of haircut you decide on for your pup, you might not even have as rigorous a grooming routine as you imagine.

Plus, there are ways to keep your pup clean in between full grooming sessions without always having to do a bath, which can be a big time saver.

Why Should You Start to Groom a Shih Tzu Puppy Early?

You want to start grooming your Shih Tzu pup when she is still young because the sooner you introduce her to the process, the easier your future grooming sessions will be.

Dogs need to be acclimated to things, and grooming is most certainly no exception to this rule. If you are getting your dog from a breeder or a shelter, she will most likely have already been given her first bath.

Lucky you!  This means you can wait about 4 weeks before attempting it yourself.

Regardless of whether your pup has already been cleaned, you do need to wait until she is at least about 10 weeks old to begin any serious grooming or bathing so that you can ensure safe handling of your sweet little furball.

If you plan to have your puppy professionally groomed you will also want to make sure she has had her second round of shots.

No matter if you DIY at home or go with a pro, expect your pup’s first grooming experience to take a little longer than the norm as you want to be patient and take the time to introduce her to the tools, as well as the act itself.

You want to be extremely patient the first time that you groom your puppy to ensure that the whole experience is as pleasant as possible.

Use lots of treats and let your dog associate grooming with a very positive feeling.

Starting out early with grooming helps it become part of your dog’s normal routine.  She will come to expect that this is something that regularly happens, and it is not something to worry about or fear.

How do you groom a puppy at home?

Obviously, you need to keep your dog clean, it’s important to her overall health and comfort.

However, sometimes it isn’t feasible to give a full-blown bath since that means lengthy dry times and brushing, especially if your pup sports the iconic, long show dog hairstyle.

If you’re pressed for time, keep this in mind, your pup only needs a bath about once a month.  You may even be able to go longer depending on your dog’s activities and how you groom in between baths.

No matter what you decide to do, remember to introduce your puppy to the process first.

Here are a few ways to keep your Shih Tzu clean in between baths:

Pet Wipes

Use a pet wipe once a week, or every time your pup comes inside from an exciting outdoor romp in the grass, to help keep her coat clean and free from potential allergens that can come into your home on her hair. 

Regular Brushing

Speaking of things hitching a ride on your pet’s coat, regular daily brushing is non-negotiable.

Whether your pup has a long, flowing coat or a short puppy cut, plan to give her a good brushing every day. If she does have a puppy cut, at least plan to brush out any long parts, like her tail or ears, etc.

Dry Shampoos

If you’re in a real pinch try a dry shampoo, or a spritz of doggie cologne to help keep your pup clean and smelling fresh.

Clean Your Shih Tzu’s Eyes, Ears, and Mouth

Always pay attention to the state of your pup’s eyes, ears, and mouth. Shih Tzu are prone to eye issues, so it’s important to keep the hair trimmed back out of the eyes, or held up in a top knot.

Regularly and gently wipe the eyes and surrounding areas, clean out ears and brush your pup’s teeth every day.

What if My Puppy Doesn’t Want To Be Groomed?

If your pup seems extra nervous about the idea of grooming, there could be several reasons.

Perhaps she wasn’t properly introduced to the idea, or it could be her personality or maybe she had a bad experience in the past.

This doesn’t mean you are destined for a life of stressful grooming days.

When you first get your puppy, don’t rush grooming.  It’s critical to be patient and do things in short little bursts in the beginning.

For example, the first time that you groom your puppy might just be to let your dog sniff the brush, the toothbrush, and any other tools of the trade that will be used.

If she knows what these items are and is familiar with them, then she is less likely to be nervous around them.

The next time you may start to introduce her to the water by gently putting some on her back, or letting her stand in some shallow water in the tub.

Always use gentle and calm motions and a soft, calm voice.

Remember, dogs can sense the feelings of those around them, so if you’re tense and stressed out, your dog is going to be the same way.

Have plenty of treats on hand to reward and encourage your Shih Tzu. The more you groom your Shih Tzu puppy, and the earlier that you begin, the easier it will be!

Hopefully, you feel more equipped to groom your new Shih Tzu puppy, and you know what you need to do!

As long as you start grooming your puppy early, the experience will be one to enjoy and that can serve as a special bonding time with your dog.

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