Puppy Meets the GroomerWhile routine grooming tasks, like brushing, are easy to handle at home, many of us prefer to turn the major jobs - like shampoos and nail trims - over to a professional.

After all, they have the training and the special equipment needed to perform those tasks better than we can at home. Another big plus of handing your dog over to a groomer for those "big jobs" is that you won't have to deal with the mess of wet, shed hair all over your bathroom!

When and how your puppy is introduced to his professional groomer is an important step in his development. Ideally, your puppy's first session with the groomer should be early - between two and six months of age. Be sure you've spent time teaching her to be handled all over, as discussed in our last puppy post.

It's critical that puppy's first session with the groomer be a positive one. A bad experience can cause deep-seated fear of the grooming experience that can be hard to overcome. That's why the best groomers focus the first session on helping the puppy feel at ease.

Your puppy's first session will include a shampoo and conditioning treatment, a light nail trim, and some clipping around his face, feet and tail if needed. But more important than the grooming itself is how the groomer responds to puppy's comfort level.

Think of it as investing for the long-term: TLC and a treat are more valuable than a complete nail trim during that first session. Over time, as puppy becomes comfortable with the process, the length of the sessions and number of tasks performed and can be expanded.

Expect it to take at least three sessions for your pet to be comfortable with the grooming process. That's why it's wise not to wait too long between those first few appointments. We find that every four weeks helps create positive associations.

Another way to reduce puppy's stress is to find a groomer who comes to you (like our Mobile Pet Spa). Because the grooming van only handles one pet at a time, the environment is more relaxed than in a grooming shop, which can be noisy and chaotic. Another plus: there's no waiting in a cage to go home -- puppy will be back in his comfort zone as soon as the session is over!