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!" Grooming is relaxing, will help you to bond with your new baby, and will help get him used to being handled too!
Now, you're probably wondering what it is you're supposed to 'groom' because your 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 and I promise you, it will pay dividends in the long run!
Let's take a quick look at reasons why it's important to begin early.
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.
Make sure you have all the puppy grooming tools you're going to need for your grooming session before you begin.
The very basics you'll need are a bath mat or access to a table, cotton wool or buds, a soft puppy brush, a metal comb, and a pair of scissors.
A bowl of water, tweezers and a towel may come in handy too.
If you're planning on trimming your Cocker yourself, have the electric trimmer to hand too.
Grooming your puppy on a table is best, (it will also be easier on your back) but be careful not to leave him alone otherwise he may fall and injure himself.
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 baby won't need his nails trimming just yet, but now is the time to acclimatize 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!
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 snipping a tiny amount from 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 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, simply follow the link.
Handle your puppy's ears as often as you can. I'm sure that won't be too difficult to do, will it? Cocker Spaniel ears are 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. 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 it's important to check your puppy's teeth regularly for signs of gum disease or other health problems.
The main point here is to get your Cocker Spaniel puppy used to his mouth and teeth being inspected. It will be much easier for you both when he's older.
Here's what you can do:
Help keep your puppy's teeth clean by brushing them every day (or at least two or three times a week if you really don't have the time).
When your pup is used to his teeth and gums being rubbed, you can try to introduce the toothbrush and a little toothpaste.
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.
Check your puppy's bottom area to make sure he's clean and that his bottom looks healthy. If necessary, use a cotton wool ball moistened with warm water to clean him.
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.
Thankfully, at this young age we don't actually have to accomplish the full dog grooming routine because he still has his puppy coat and his feathers probably haven't grown in yet.
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.
However, it's important to establish and maintain control right from the beginning. Show your puppy that you won't stand any 'nonsense' and 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. Grooming is supposed to be a relaxing and happy time for you both.
And for future reference, this is how to groom an adult Cocker Spaniel.
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