Puppies are young and impressionable—they’re the perfect age to introduce them to and acclimate them to situations they’ll encounter throughout the rest of their lives. Two things you should definitely take the time to desensitize your puppy to are nail trims and bath time. Doing so now will ensure these situations are stressful for them later in life.
When desensitizing your puppy, remember to break down the action into small parts and to go slowly. It could take multiple training sessions over days or weeks to achieve the results you’re after—but it’s worth it! Keep reading for our tips:
Depending on the tool you’re using (we recommend using a Dremel), you might need to adjust your approach.
1. Gather some high-value treats you can give your puppy to make sure the experience is a good one!
2. Introduce the tool. (If it’s a Dremel, make sure it’s turned off.) Reward your puppy for giving you his paw and allowing you to touch the tool to his paw. Start slow with short touches – your puppy will let you know what they’re comfortable with – and don’t push for too much too fast.
3. Once your puppy is tolerating the tool touching their nails (without any Dremeling or clipping), start mimicking the action.
4. If using a Dremel, go through the extra step of getting your puppy comfortable with the sound.
5. Finally, once your puppy is calm and stress-free, start trimming. Remember: Never stop feeding treats!
If at any point your puppy becomes overwhelmed or stressed, end the session on a good note. Revert to the last step your puppy completed successfully, repeat it, feed a treat, and call it a day.
Not all puppies enjoy being in water, so while some might have a blast during bath time, others won’t immediately take to it. But don’t worry! With enough treats and time, your new four-legged friend will be a bath-time pro.
1. Just like with nail trims, gather some high-value treats beforehand. This is also when you should start thinking about where you’re going to bathe your puppy (try to choose the same spot you’ll be using as they grow) and how to break down the bathing process into bite-sized chunks.
2. If you’re going to bathe your puppy in the bathroom tub, for example. You will need to get your puppy used to entering the bathroom, entering the tub, standing in the tub for a period of time, being near running water, and so on. Start with step one, and slowly build on that process.
3. Over time, as your puppy gets comfortable with each step, keep feeding treats and progressing.
4. Once your puppy is used to being in the tub with running water, decide if you will need to use a leash to keep them in place or if something as simple as a lick-pad smeared with peanut butter will be enough to keep them occupied.
5. No matter what, it’s important to go slowly and avoid overwhelming your puppy. If bath time starts off on the wrong foot, it will be hard to ever convince them—treats or otherwise—that getting a bath won’t be a stressful experience.
What Else You Can Do for Your Growing Puppy
You want your puppy to mature into a well-adjusted dog, and socialization is a huge part of that. Doggy daycare is a great way to introduce them to other dogs and people—and they’ll have fun doing it!