I'm often asked, "When's the best time to begin grooming my cocker spaniel puppy?" and my answer is always the same, "The sooner the better!" Puppy grooming is relaxing, not only will it help you to bond with your new baby, it will also help your pet get used to being handled too!
Okay, we've established that it's best to begin grooming your puppy right from day one. Now we need to take a look at how it's done, with a few grooming tips thrown in.
Grooming puppies is so relaxing for both owner and puppy, (or it should be!) and it will help you to bond quicker too.
If your puppy objects to being man-handled you need to be firm but not rough and continue grooming.
If he tries to bite your fingers, correct him with a firm "No" in a disapproving tone and carry on regardless. Although it's better to praise your dog (when he's good or quiet) than to 'punish' him, he needs to learn that biting is not acceptable.
Now, you're probably wondering what it is you're supposed to 'groom' because your Cocker Spaniel puppy won't begin to develop feathering until he's about 6 months old.
The whole point of these grooming sessions is simply to 'go through the motions' of grooming to help him get used to being handled, brushed, combed and examined.
It shouldn't take too long, just a
few minutes each day is all you'll need for now.
Be sure to have everything you're likely to need for your grooming session before you begin.
You'll need a bath mat, a soft puppy brush, a metal comb, and a pair of scissors. If you're planning on trimming your Cocker yourself, have the electric trimmer to hand too.
I recommend you being grooming your puppy on a table but don't leave him alone otherwise he may fall and injure himself.
It will be much easier on your back too!
Brush him gently from head to tail with a soft bristle brush.
Using a metal comb or a metal pin brush (also called a slicker brush), gently comb his ears and his legs.
If there are any knots or tangles, try to tease them out with your fingers, or with the end of the metal comb, although at this stage there probably won't be any.
Be gentle with your puppy and talk quietly to him. If he's good, praise him. Try not to reprimand him too much if he wriggles, just carry on regardless, otherwise he may come to resent being groomed.
If he becomes really stressed, try to lighten up a little and make it fun. If that doesn't work, stop for a little while and try again later.
Using a pair of blunt round-ended scissors, pretend to cut your puppy's fur around his paws and ears to help him to get used to the sound of snipping scissors, which is a sound that can sometimes 'spook' a dog.
If he gets used to this sound while he's very young, you should have no trouble when he's older - he'll sit quietly and allow you to trim him (well, that's the theory!).
If you have an electric trimmer or razor, I recommend you let him sniff it and leave it lying on the table for a while.
You might like to switch it on from time to time, to allow him to get him used to the sound so that when (and if) you take him to the groomers, he'll be used to the sound of it and won't be afraid.
Just don't switch them on right in front of his face otherwise you'll probably startle him.
Dogs can be very sensitive about having their paws handled, so it's best to get your Cocker Spaniel puppy used to this at a very early age.
Your new pet won't need his nails trimming just yet, but now is the time to acclimatise him to the sight, feel and sound of nail clippers, scissors, and nail file.
By the time your Cocker Spaniel puppy is ready to have his nails clipped, he'll be used to having his paws handled, and it will easily become part of his grooming routine.
Without these preparatory exercises, you don't even want to think about his behavior when it's time to clip his nails! The words 'Tasmanian devil' spring to mind!
I recommend you follow this link which explains all about cutting your dog's nails. When you've read the article, and you feel confident enough, you could begin by clipping only one nail each day before gradually working up to all four paws.
If your puppy stays still, praise him and give him the occasional treat.
If you're still not too
confident about the procedure, why not ask your vet or
groomer to show you how before you try yourself?
Gently clear away any sleep from your puppy's eyes with damp cotton wool. Do this daily if necessary and use a separate piece of cotton wool for each eye to avoid the possibility of transferring infection from one eye to the other.
If you'd like to brush up on health problems that could affect your dog's eyes during his lifetime - just follow the link.
Handle your puppy's ears as often as you can - that's no hardship now is it? They're adorable!
Examine them, smell them (they should just smell of puppy and nothing else) and above all, keep them clean.
You can do this by using a lightly moistened cotton bud, but do not push the bud into the ear canal as this could seriously damage your puppy's ear. Don't forget to use a separate cotton bud for each ear to avoid cross infection.
Gum disease can be very painful and can lead to teeth loss and other health problems so I recommend you check your puppy's teeth regularly for signs of gum disease.
If your Cocker Spaniel puppy gets used to his mouth and teeth being inspected, it will be much easier for you both when he's older.
Your pup's gums should be a healthy pink in color. If he has bad breath, or his gums appear pale, or red and swollen, I recommend you take him to see his vet.
You can help to keep your puppy's teeth clean by brushing his teeth every day (or at least two or three times a week if you really don't have the time).
You can buy puppy toothbrushes and toothpaste from most good pet stores or from your vet.
Don't be tempted to use toothpaste meant for humans as it froth's too much and can upset his delicate stomach if swallowed.
When your pup is used to his teeth and gums being rubbed, you can try to introduce the toothbrush and a little toothpaste.
Check your puppy's bottom area to ensure he's clean and that his bottom looks healthy. If necessary, use a cotton wool ball moistened with warm water to clean the area.
All dogs can suffer from impacted anal glands at some point which can be especially painful if infection occurs, however, a good healthy diet which produces firm stools will go a long way to keeping your dog's anal glands healthy.
When grooming puppies, it's important to establish and maintain control. It's best to show your puppy who's boss; show him that you are the alpha dog (his 'pack leader').
Take things slowly and gently and praise him if he behaves, but give him 'time out' if he gets too anxious.
Thankfully, at this young age we don't actually have to accomplish the full dog grooming routine because he'll still have his puppy coat. All we need to do is get him used to the handling process and the grooming tools we'll be using when he's older.
And for future reference, this is how to groom an adult Cocker Spaniel - have fun!