If your puppy or young dog has never been groomed by a professional groomer, then you may want to train him a bit to get him familiar with what will be required of him on the groomer’s table. This preparation for his first appointment will help to quell any nervousness he may have at the actual appointment.
First appointments with a professional dog groomer can be stressful and frightening to a young dog. A puppy is used to being handled by his human family pack and not by strangers. If he is already a bit traumatized by visits to the veterinarian, he may associate the grooming table with the examination table used during vet visits and grow nervous. A dog groomer will touch him in some of the same ways that a veterinarian would, e.g., inspecting his ears and paws for mites and long nails. Your puppy may not understand that these actions are taken for the purpose of grooming only and may believe that he is going to receive a shot or some other uncomfortable procedure before the end of the appointment.
To get your puppy ready for the groomer, have him practice lying still for short periods of time in the weeks leading up to his grooming appointment. While he is laying down, touch his ears and his paws and any other areas you feel the groomer will focus on. Instruct him to lie still as you are doing so and soothe him with kind words. Give him rewards after he satisfactorily complies with your commands.
Nail clipping can also be a big cause for anxiety at a dog grooming appointment. Prepare your dog beforehand by holding his paws for short periods of time. Hold a real nail clipper in your hand while doing this. After your dog becomes comfortable with letting you hold his paws in the air, click the nail clipper as if you are actually using it. Meanwhile, hold the dog’s paws in the air, one at a time. This exercise gets the dog used to the sound of the clipper, and he will be less likely to jump or growl when hearing this sharp sound at his actual appointment.
A professional groomer with plenty of experience will be sure to make your puppy feel comfortable during his first grooming experience. Ask your groomer if he or she can suggest anything that can help your dog prepare for his first appointment.