Please note: I have discontinued the puppy kit
mentioned on this page. The page will be completely updated (and improved) as
soon as I have time.
The more often you perform grooming tasks the easier they get. The dog
will get more comfortable with them and you'll get better at them.
Grooming includes routine maintenance of the Poodle's ears, nails, teeth,
anal glands and coat. The poodle's coat requires more grooming than most other
dogs'. You can choose to take your poodle to a groomer every 4 to 8 weeks or you
can do a lot - or all - of the grooming yourself. Even if you take the dog to
the groomer regularly you will still need to brush her at home in between
grooming appointments and you will probably need to give her at least an
Grooming a puppy is not the same as grooming an adult poodle. The poodle's
coat will be very different as a puppy than as an adult. The young puppy coat
can be brushed in a minute. Puppy teeth are temporary and will later be
replaced by permanent teeth. Nails seem to grow faster on puppies. (At 8 weeks
old your puppy has already had her nails trimmed about 3 times.)
For those who want to do more of their own grooming, a puppy is the perfect
starting point. You can start while the puppy is young and grooming is easy. By
the time her adult coat has grown in she'll be well trained to your grooming
style and will make it easy for you (or for the appreciative groomer you take
The most important aspect of puppy grooming is not really in the grooming at
all. It is training the puppy to be easily groomed. No special training skills
are necessary for this. It's really easy and it is really important whether you
plan to groom your own dog or have her groomed professionally. All you have to
do is get her used to sitting, standing or lying still (depending on the task
and your preference) while you brush, pluck, prod and tickle her. The specifics
on how to pluck, prod or tickle to prepare your babe for each grooming task are
detailed under that task's heading.
Brushing and Combing
The easiest way (for you and for the dog) to brush and comb is to do it on
your lap. This is the perfect accompanying task to TV watching. I like to do it
on the couch so I can position the larger dogs where I want them. Its not messy.
All the hair will stay in the dog brush.
In your puppy kit I have included a slicker brush, a comb and a "baby brush".
Most poodle brushing is done with a slicker brush. This is a great brush for
grooming an older puppy or adult poodle but you must be careful with it. Try the
slicker brush on your own hair using different amounts of pressure. This brush
can scratch delicate skin. You want to brush the hair, not the skin. Since the
puppy coat is not nearly as dense as the adult coat will be you will not need
the slicker brush for a while.
Brush the poodle from one end to the other in the opposite direction from how
the hair grows. For example, on the dog's back the hair grows from the head
toward the tail so brush from the tail toward the head. Some people have an
orderly system of what parts to brush in what order. I usually start with the
part that's closest to me. If the dog is lying on her back, I'll start with her
chest and belly and do the inside of her legs and then turn her over. The goal
here is to leave no spot untouched. The parts that will later tend to mat up are
often the parts that the dog is most sensitive about having brushed (under
the ears, armpits, inside of legs). You'll quickly find out what parts your pup
is resistant to having brushed and these are the parts on which you should be
extra gentle but never skip. She needs to get used to being groomed all over.
On an eight week old puppy this takes about 1 minute. On a nine month old
puppy (with full legs) it takes about 5 minutes. On an adult dog with a dense
coat and full legs it takes maybe 15 minutes.
After she is fully brushed, go over her with the comb. This will help you
find any tangles or mats that are close to the skin.
Always brush the dog completely before giving her a bath. You will
turn tangles into mats if you don't brush them out before the bath.
|Did you know?... Felt
is made by agitating natural fibers with detergent and water. You can make
felt from poodle hair but you should only do so once you've removed it
from the poodle. Bathing a tangled poodle will created a felted (or
As the puppy gets older you will find that she does begin to get some mats in
her hair. This means it's probably time for the slicker brush. Many tangles can
be brushed out before they become hopeless mats. Most mats can be brushed out
with patience. Before spending a lot of time trying to brush out a mat, consider
what its worth. If the mat is in the center of the dog's topknot then you'll
probably want to brush it out. If it 's on her belly or under her tail, just cut
it off. It's not going to be noticeable.
Safely cutting a mat - Some mats are at the end of the hair where they
can be easily cut off. Others are close to the skin where you could easily cut
the dog while cutting the mat. In this case slide your comb under the mat so
that the comb is positioned between the dog's skin and the mat. Then use your scissors to cut
the mat as close to the comb as possible holding them so that the blade is flat
against the comb. As long as the comb is between your scissors and the dog's
skin you can safely cut. There may still be a fraction of an inch of mat left
but once the major mat has been cut this can usually be brushed out. Try
separating the mat into sections with the edge of your comb then brushing or
combing through them.
Brushing with the Slicker Brush
The slicker brush is great for brushing an adult coat but isn't always needed
on young pups. Be careful with the slicker brush it will scratch skin and make
the dog hate brushing. Be gentle and try to brush only the hair not the skin.
I'll be happy to show you how to brush your dog with the slicker.
Bathing your puppy or dog
How often you bathe your dog depends on how (and where) she goes out, what
the weather is, how much sand you can stand in your bed and other factors. (Be
sure to see the Dogs & Dirt & Doggie Doors section.) My dogs are bathed about
once a week. Skidget tends to get more baths because she gets into more dirt and
has long fine silky hair. The main concern regarding frequency of bathing is how
the dog's skin is. We've never had a skin problem :::knocking wood::: but I'm
always on the look-out since they do get so many baths. While a skin conditions
may not in itself be serious (in a life-threatening way) a dog with any
skin condition will dedicate it's life to making the condition worse by
scratching or chewing on it.
Puppies under 8 weeks (like the 5 week old puppy above) sometimes like to
roll around in their food (which at this age is like gruel) This sometimes
necessitates a bath.
You can bathe your puppy right in the kitchen sink, in a laundry tub, in the
bathtub or you can hold it and get in the shower with it. When I only had one
poodle this was my method. Aside from the need to keep a firm hold on a slippery
wet puppy I think this is the easiest way especially if you don't have a
hand-held shower head in your shower and your
dog gets too big for your kitchen sink.
I have tried many shampoos, cream rinses and conditioners made for dogs.
Nothing I've tried does nearly as good a job as Pantene Shampoo (for humans) and
Pantene or TreSemme' cream rinse (also for humans). This should not be the case
since the PH of poodle hair is more alkaline than human hair but seeing is
believing and I'm convinced. Try whatever you like. This works well for me and
my dogs smell great.
Dilute the shampoo using about 1/4 shampoo and 3/4 water. Do the same with
the cream rinse. I use empty shampoo bottles to keep these mixtures in.
You'll need to shake the cream rinse like mad to blend it well with the water
but it's worth it. It will last a long time and diluting it will make it much
easier to spread on and rinse off the dog.
Collect your supplies. You'll need your diluted shampoo, cream rinse, a towel
(I've included 2 magic towels in your puppy kit) and a non-skid mat. You
probably already have one of these for your bathtub or shower. I've included one
in the puppy kit for your sink. If you don't have a sprayer you'll also need a
container for pouring rinse water over the dog.
Relax. Poodles love water. They may be a little resistant to bathing in new
circumstances - or if you're nervous about it - but training a poodle to take a
bath is like training a bird to fly. It's a natural.
Stand the poodle in the sink on the skid proof mat holding it under the belly
so that it feels secure. Spray or pour warm water over it from the neck
back. (I usually wash my poodle's head first but until they get used to it the
water on the head can startle them more than it does on the body.) The only
thing you need to be careful of is to keep soap out of the eyes. It will sting
just as it stings your eyes. All of my poodles (even Ani, the Independent) will
tip their heads all the way back when I have my hand on their head. I think
they're trying to see what I'm doing. Soaping the head is easy. Rinsing takes
more care. If you have a hard time get a helper to rinse while you hold the dogs
head up (and say "Head up". The dog will learn what this means.)
Scrub the whole little darling just as you would your hair. Use a face cloth
to wash it's face. Wash the inside of the ear flaps with shampoo but aim your
rinse so that the water goes down the ear flap, not down into the ear canal. Get
all the hard to reach places like the neck under the ear and the armpits. Rinse
Now squirt the cream rinse on liberally. Again, do it as you would wash your
hair. Work it in all over and keep it out of the eyes. Rinse until the water
runs clear and then rinse some more. It really takes a lot of rinsing to get all
the cream rinse out but keep at it. It's time you'll save on brushing.
Wrap the pup up in her towel and sit down with her on your lap and dry her
briskly but gently. The "magic towels" hold a lot of water. You can wring it out
and then sop up more water even in the wet towel.
Give her a big kiss.
Blow Drying (Blowing Dry?)
Drying the poodle will keep her from getting a chill and it will keep her
from making a swamp of your bed or couch or wherever she would jump to and roll
around to dry herself but there is another reason for blow drying a poodle:
"Fluff drying" straightens out the poodle hair and the straighter it is the
better hair cut the poodle will get. Fluff drying combines blowing dry and
brushing the hair at the same time and it seems - at least at first - to require
3 hands. Since you are beginning with a puppy and are probably not going to give
it a hair cut at it's first bath you don't have to worry about that yet.
You can blow dry the puppy on your lap at first but if you ever plan to cut
her hair yourself I would suggest moving this task to a table as soon as she is
comfortable with it. What you would like to achieve is to have her stay in the
position you put her in until you move her or tell her to move. That's not going
to happen the first time but it's the goal. I like lying the puppy down on the
grooming table for most of the drying. Most professional pet groomers I know
don't do this but show groomers do and it seems a better position to me. Don't
worry too much about her position the first time, just make sure she can't fall
off the table.
Make sure while blowing her dry that the heat is not too high on your dryer.
If you use one hand to hold/lift the hair you're drying (the way you'd lift and
let fall your own hair when drying) you'll be feeling how hot the heat from the
dryer is and you'll also be getting in the position you'll need to brush (rather
than hold) the hair later.
Puppies sometimes balk at the blow dryer and sometimes are fine. Keep it away
from their face and even their head at first if they are fussy. A good top knot
will need to be blown dry but there's time in the future for that. Make her love
bathing and drying and everything later will be easy.
When I say "Let's take a bath" in my house, some dogs run to the tub and
others hide but even the hiders are pretty good once I get them in there.
After bathing and drying the dog needs to be brushed again. I LOVE brushing a
freshly bathed dog.
Puppy nails grow incredibly fast. By the time you take home a puppy it will
have had it's nails trimmed at least 3 times. Nails need to be trimmed for the sake
of the puppy but they need to be trimmed more often for your sake. Those little
Young puppies nails can easily be trimmed with regular nail clippers or with
the nail clippers supplied with your puppy kit. These nail trimmers are the only
ones we use for our poodles. They are the easiest to handle and will work with
puppies but will also work on adult dog nails. (They are the type used by our
vet and by many groomers for small dogs.)
When trimming nails cut from top to bottom (rather than from side to side).
Hold the toe as shown in this picture. Pressing on the toe extends the nail. You
must be careful to trim just a tiny bit so that you do not cut the quick (the
vein that runs through the center of the nail.
When nails grow the quick extends farther into the nail. If the quick is cut
it may bleed a little or it may bleed profusely. You should always
have some blood-stop powder on hand in case this happens. (Blood stop powder has
been included in your puppy kit.) If you draw blood don't panic. Take a deep
breath, talk calmly to the puppy and dip the nail into the blood stop powder.
Pack more powder around the tip of the nail if needed. (Note: This is scary when
it happens but it is not unusual for a professional groomer to cut too close and
draw a little blood. In fact I started cutting my own dogs' nails after two
successive groomers drew blood while cutting nails. In both cases there was only
a drop of blood and the dogs hardly reacted but it was enough for me to realize
that I could do this just as well - and hopefully better - than it was being
The easiest way to cut a puppy's nails is when she's asleep!
This pup doesn't look too concerned about the nail trimming does she?
I must admit that when I first heard of people brushing their dog's teeth I
thought it was a little "over the top". Acquiring a wonderful adult dog who had
dental problems showed me quickly how important it is to do all the preventive
care we can on canine teeth. A Milkbone biscuit won't do the job any more than
chewing Dentyne will keep you from having to brush your teeth.
Puppies have 28 baby teeth that are replaced with a full set of 44 permanent
teeth beginning around 3 months of age. This gives you a little head start on
learning to care for your dogs teeth since they have a "practice" set!
As you know from brushing your own teeth this is not a task that requires any
tremendous skill. The only trick is to accustom your puppy to having it
done and the only way to accomplish this trick is to attempt it as often as you
can with your pup. By the time brushing is crucial your puppy will be used to
having it done and you'll all live happily ever after!
There are toothbrushes sold for dogs. Some are small brushes that slip over
the end of your finger. I don't like these and find them hard to use to teach a
dog to let me brush its teeth. I've provided you with a toothbrush that has a
good grip which I think is the most important feature of a doggie toothbrush.
I get the dog accustomed to brushing before I start using tooth paste even
though it is the enzymes in the tooth paste that do more of the cleaning than
the brush does, according to my vet. (NEVER use human toothpaste on dogs. Use
dog toothpaste which can be purchased in the pet store, from your vet, from me,
or mail ordered.)
Your initial objective is to spend about one minute a day on "toothbrush
training". Spending 7 minutes once a week won't be nearly as effective. It is
the frequency that gets the dog used to the tooth brush and 7 minutes is far too
long to expect a dog to sit still for tooth brushing. (Would you?)
You can use two fingers of one hand to spread
the jaw open leaving your other hand free for the toothbrush. Keeping the mouth
open is the hardest part but don't keep it open for any length of time. Like
yourself the pup will want to close its mouth and swallow.
With the jaw open introduce the toothbrush and move it against whatever teeth
you can get to. The puppy will be trying to close its mouth, trying to dislodge
your fingers, trying to bite the toothbrush and shaking its head from side to
side trying to move away. Don't get unnerved. Relax and enjoy the show, it will
get easier (and if you get this on video tape it will probably be funny enough
for the Animal Planet's funniest videos.) You may not even manage to get
the toothbrush into her mouth on the first try (or the first few tries). Try
this twice and then tell the puppy what a good girl (or boy) she is. Any more
than two tries will wear you both out and annoy you.
If you do this every day you will get to the point where you can brush your
puppy's teeth (using tooth paste). If you don't get to it every day, do it as
often as you can. Once you are able to brush her teeth well, doing so two
or three times a week (or even once a week)
should keep her mouth in good shape.
Never let the puppy play with the toothbrush, it will only make training
Most groomers now offer tooth brushing service for an extra fee. Keep in mind
that if you can't train your puppy to allow tooth brushing your groomer isn't
going to have much luck. Also, every six weeks is not often enough to brush
teeth (although it's better than never).
Most vets offer a complete tooth cleaning for which they sedate the dog. This
should be done annually if your dog's teeth are not being brushed. The cost can
be upwards of $150.00 for this service and shouldn't be needed if you spend the
time to teach the pup to have her teeth brushed.
Never feed your dog anything containing sugar. They don't need it, it's not
good for them and they don't crave it like you may. It will rot their teeth just
as it will rot yours but they can't get fillings or dentures. (See Feeding
section for more info.)
Poodle's ears must be cleaned regularly and kept free of hair. This is done
by plucking the hair out of the ear with tweezers. It is not difficult to do and
the dog doesn't really mind it once she's used to it. (Skidget falls asleep on
my lap when I'm doing her ears.)
If the hair is not plucked from the ears it will grow down into the ear canal
and make it impossible to clean the dog's ear. At some point this will turn into
an infection. There are two types of infections that are common to dog ears. One
is bacterial the other is yeast. You can tell when a dog has an ear problem. It
will shake it's head (as people do when trying to shake water from an ear) or it
will rub the ear and whine.
An ear infection will not take care of itself. You must take action or it
will get worse and could cause permanent damage (and a lot of expense).
If a groomer does your dogs ears make sure they are doing a thorough job.
(Some do a great job and some barely do it at all.)
I will be happy to show you how to do the dog's ears and give you all the
information I've collected when Panama had ear problems (which he no longer