Grooming

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Will my puppy like the water?

Our Australian Labradoodles love the water!  Introduce them early on - a pond, a lake, the beach, a pool, a hose, a sprinkler, a bathtub.  Keep the introductions short at first, and always fun, with treats and praise.  Splash around yourself and be happy.  As with everything, they will learn from you what is pleasurable and what is not, so keep it fun!

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My puppy likes to chew, is this normal?

Puppies need to chew in order to relieve discomfort and also assist with the adult teeth development.  Pups also chew to explore the world around them.  Offer your puppy plenty of chew toys like stuffed animals, rubber kongs filled with peanut butter and kibble, orbee balls, rawhides, bully sticks, and porky chews (not brittle pigs’ ears).  Large raw bones are okay, but never offer small bones like chicken wings which can cause obstructions, and never offer any kind of cooked bones ever, as they can splinter and damage the digestive tract.  Only keep two or three toys out at a time, and rotate them to keep your puppy interested.  Discard the chewy if it becomes a choking hazard.

Be sure to puppy proof your house, removing tempting puppy level chewable items like slippers, plants, wires, small toys, or other choking hazards.  Bitter Apple can work to deter chewing on some fixed objects.

Never let your puppy chew on clothes, hands, furniture, or other off-limits items.  If he makes an attempt, give a sharp “Yelp!” to let your puppy know it's not okay, immediately distract him and offer him an acceptable alternative, then provide lots of praise when he does so.  If he persists with nipping or chewing the off-limits item, or is just over-excited, then give him a little time-out with a chewy in his crate.  This gives him a chance to settle himself and calm down, and is not a punishment.  Your puppy is very bright and he will respond well to positive reinforcement, so offer lots of praise for doing the right thing, and calmly redirect him when he is not.  Clicker training is a great tool for teaching him what you want him to do.

If your puppy is chewing incessantly, then he is not getting enough exercise and stimulation!  Give him more attention, exercise, training, and play time!!


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How do I help my puppy respect my young children?

It is important to establish yourself as a leader and set firm and consistent rules for your puppy.  This is especially important for families with young children.  Children are full of happy excitement and energy and sometimes normal happy play like running, squealing, and waving arms will incite a young puppy to join in on this fun, in puppy style, with playing, nipping, and jumping.  Strongly discourage your puppy from doing this.  Instead, make sure your puppy has plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, which is a great way to burn off that puppy energy.  When playing with children, put your puppy on leash and/or tether him to you, and teach him to respect the smaller members of the household.

It can be difficult for very young children to be firm canine leaders, simply because of their size or experience, so supervise all interactions, and of course, step in when needed.  Also invite children to attend puppy kindergarten and obedience training with you, so that they too can learn how to be clear leaders and set firm rules.  Your puppy will pick up on your family's calm and confident energy.


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I want to change my puppy’s food.  What do you recommend?

Like humans, your canine friend may get tired of the same old food, and so it is fine to change it up every so often.  Just make the change over a few days, gradually increasing the new formula so her system adjusts to the change.  Offer a wholesome product supplied at your natural pet food store, a food with no additives or fillers.  We like Earthborn Holistic, Wellness, California Natural, Blue Buffalo, Solid Gold, and Orijen.  Here is a link to some food brands, rated 5 stars is best: www.dogfoodadvisor.com.

If you are up for offering a home cooked diet, that is also a good option.  Provide deboned skinless chicken, beef, egg, rice, veggies, fruits, oatmeal, and plain unsweetened yogurt.  Your puppy’s primary intake should be meat based, but he will also love fruits and vegetables – apples, blueberries, raspberries, carrots, pumpkin, squash, and kale are some of their favorites.  Cooked veggies are digested better, but raw is good for teething and chewing.   Just be careful not to offer small hard pieces (like carrot rounds) that your puppy can choke on.  Here is a recipe for meatloaf, kindly provided by a Maine Light Family.

Dog Meatloaf
3 cups of ground beef or whatever meat you prefer
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of old fashioned oats
3/4 cup of grated mixed vegetables
1/2 cup of cottage cheese
Mix all and bake at 350.

Avoid toxic foods like grapes, raisins, avocado, onions, chocolate, and any fruit pits or seeds.  To learn more about toxic foods to avoid, check out www.peteducation.com and www.petpoisonhelpline.com.


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How often should I bathe my puppy?

Your puppy will not need frequent bathing.  Dirt and mud can normally be cleaned up with a regular brushing.  If your puppy needs a rinse, use plain warm water.  Frequent shampooing can strip the natural oils from your puppy’s skin and coat, so shampoo only when needed.  Use a gentle shampoo formula with a moisturizing conditioner to replenish the natural oils you are washing out.  Make sure any tangles are brushed out prior to rinsing or bathing in order to avoid matting.

To make bath time fun, spread peanut butter on the sides of the tub for a little bath treat, use warm water, and be sure to keep water out of your puppy’s nostrils!


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Any tips on grooming my puppy?

Whether you take your puppy to a groomer or trim her yourself, it will be important for her to get accustomed to handling.  Touch your puppy everywhere –back, front, legs, tail, tummy, teeth, tongue, ears, face, nails, in between the toes, all over and under her body.  Everywhere and often.  Offer plenty of treats and praise as she stands for you.  Teach her to stand on a table quietly while you work with her.  Use a grooming table or a sticky mat on a stable table so she feels secure.  Offer treats and praise and keep the grooming sessions short at first.  Offer a calm voice and reassurance that you are in control.

Once your puppy is relaxed and at ease being handled on the table, you will be able to do routine grooming like brushing her coat, trimming around her eyes and face, and cleaning her ears and teeth.

Weekly, brush you puppy’s coat with a pin brush, clean her teeth with a canine enzymatic toothpaste (not human toothpaste), and clean her ears with a gentle ear cleaner (we like Epi-Otic Ear Cleanser).

Every three weeks, trim around your puppy’s eyes and face so she can see.  Take care, use small blunt end hair scissors, and always keep the point/blunt end of the scissors away from your puppy’s eyes, with a firm hand on her muzzle to keep her steady.


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When should I give my puppy her first trim and what should I tell the groomer?

The puppy coat is so soft and fluffy, that I personally like to keep it long for as long as possible.  I usually break down and give our dogs their first body trim around 6 months old, and then every 6-8 weeks thereafter.

Grooming is a personal thing, so you can give your puppy whatever kind of trim you prefer.  You can ask your groomer for a "Teddy Bear Cut" (one length all over body and legs).  One or one and one half inches is a good length, but you can go shorter or longer to your preference.  Ask your groomer to trim shorter around your puppy’s eyes so she can see, and keep the eyelashes long and a nice fringe on top.  Scoop out hair with clippers between pads on underside of feet to keep her from tracking in dirt and debris.  Also trim shorter (<1/2 inch) (1.) the chest and belly (to keep your puppy cool and clean in summer and free from snowballs in winter), (2.) armpits (where coat can mat), (3.) under earflaps (for circulation), and (4.) under tail (to keep backside clean).  These areas are not generally visible, and so your puppy will appear to have uniform coat length but with the added benefits of cleanliness and circulation.  The tail can be trimmed up but kept fairly long.

Your groomer will also clip the toenails and clean the ears.  I recommend trimming the hair inside the ear, and NEVER plucking as that can cause irritation and infection.


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We are happy to provide you with answers to some frequently asked questions.  We hope that you find this information useful.  Please note that these questions should not be substituted for professional advice available from your veterinarian, trainer, groomer, canine nutritionist, or other health professional.  Please view our disclaimer for terms of use.