Grooming your puppy and bringing you closer
All puppies should be groomed daily, and not merely to improve skin and coat condition. Grooming helps to teach your puppy to accept being handled; it also enhances the bond between the two of you. And regular handling will allow you to get to know your puppy's body. This can be particularly useful as it can help you to detect any health problems in the early months of your puppy's life.
Get going with grooming
Grooming your puppy should be carried out every day, whatever the length of his coat. This will come as no hardship; most dogs enjoy being groomed and stroked, especially if started early.
With your puppy's own special brush, start grooming for short sessions, just sufficient to touch him once over his whole body. Gradually lengthen the sessions, and when he accepts what you're doing and has stood still for a while, stop and reward him. This could be a walk, a game or a meal; it'll help to make your puppy realise that standing still brings rewards, which makes grooming easier and more enjoyable for both of you.
Tabletop grooming: If you occasionally groom you puppy on a table, he'll get used to that position, which could be useful when you visit the vet or a groomer.
Sensitive areas: Your puppy's head area is very sensitive, so be extra gentle when you're brushing there. And if you notice any discharge from ears or eyes, consult your vet.
If your puppy starts to wriggle, hold him firmly with both hands until he stops. Talk to him and praise him whenever he is still.
Keeping your puppy trim
You might want to trim your puppy's coat now and again, particularly the hair around his eyes, ears and feet. This is something you could be perfectly capable of doing yourself, but if your breed needs a special haircut or trim to keep him looking his best, ask for advice from a professional dog groomer.
Nails: Your puppy's nails need to be checked regularly and kept properly trimmed, to prevent nasty snagging and painful tearing accidents. Again, this is something you might feel able to do, but if you're not quite confident enough, your vet or a professional groomer will do it for you.
If you do decide to cut your puppy's nails yourself, take care not to cut them too short. The top of a dog's nail is sensitive, and can bleed or become painful.
Your puppy's bath time
The bathing products available for dogs today are almost as numerous as those for humans, and they're much better suited to a dog's skin type than human shampoos. So choose a special dog shampoo that's best suited to your puppy's hair type. (Long-haired breeds are more likely to become matted and get dirtier more quickly and more often, and will require frequent bathing.) Take care not to get any soap in your puppy's eyes while you wash him.
Safe bathing: If you buy a non-slip rubber mat and place it on the bottom of the bath, your puppy is a lot less likely to suffer slips and falls, and it will give him confidence during bath time.
Should you consider a groomer?
Most of the time, with most dogs, you can carry out the grooming yourself - it's an enjoyable experience that brings you and your pet closer together and you'll be happy to make time for it.
But if your puppy is going to grow into an adult with a long coat, he's going to need more maintenance. Haircuts and trims might be best carried out by a professional groomer. Obviously, you'll want a groomer who's going to make the grooming enjoyable for your puppy. You'll also want to enquire about his or her experience and training, and perhaps see other dogs that have been groomed by them.
If you're interested in a professional groomer for your puppy, your vet will be able to advise you and make some recommendations.