Grooming A WSS For Pet Or Show
- Originally published in "The Starter Barks", Volume 45, Issue 2, June 2008.
If you are fortunate enough to get your Welshie as a puppy you can gently expose the new puppy to the many facets of grooming. By spending 5 minutes a day over several weeks you can have your puppy begging to be groomed. We all know how much Welshies love to eat — just refer to the last issue of the STARTER BARKS. With the use of some tasty morsels and very encouraging words, the puppy can learn to love being groomed.
This article will explain how to get a puppy accustomed to being groomed, how to groom a pet Welshie, how to handle that fluffy neutered coat and some tips on grooming the show dog from my perspective. These are only my observations of grooming and there are many other innovative ways to groom and present a dog for pet or show. Just as there are different ways to handle dogs in the show ring to look their best, there are different opinions on how to groom a Welshie. I am continually learning and I invite you to share your opinions on grooming. The best presentation of the dog, according to the breed standard, should be foremost in our discussion and not what the fad of the year is. The goal in grooming for all my dogs is for health and cleanliness.
GROOMING THE PUPPY.
Puppies may balk at the idea of being groomed, but if you do a little each day and reward the puppy for its efforts of staying on the grooming table for five minutes, you will be pleased with the results for years to come. Have a supply of puppy treats, which can be part of the puppy's regular meal or some very special, nutritional treats.
WEEK ONE. — Handle all parts of the puppy's body.
- Handle the puppy's paws and wiggle the nails and press on the pads. Give a treat and praise after handling each paw.
- Touch each ear and look inside. Give a treat.
- Touch the muzzle and lift one lip to look at the teeth. Praise and treat.
- Stroke the muzzle and the skull and look at the eyes. Praise and treat.
- Touch the tail and tickle the underside checking the anal area for cleanliness.
- Always keep the sessions positive and no longer than five minutes for the first week.
- Continue with week one procedures.
- Insert your fingers in the corner of the puppy' mouth and rub a few teeth. Praise and treat.
- Let the puppy sniff several grooming tools (comb, brush, toenail clippers). Praise and treat.
- Continue with weeks one and two procedures.
- Open the puppy's mouth and examine the teeth. Close the mouth and check the bite. Praise and treat.
- Comb or brush the puppy's coat for a few seconds. Praise and treat.
- Hold the puppy's foot and trim a few nails. Praise and treat. Next day trim nails on a different foot. In four days you will have the toenails trimmed. Praise and treat.
The next few weeks are crucial in the development of the puppy and their trust and relationship to you. It is important for the socialization to continue between you and the puppy in a one-on-one basis for this special bonding time. Treats are dispensed very liberally in the beginning when you are training the puppy to accept and enjoy the process of grooming. With positive reinforcement, puppies will associate the grooming process with rewards and once learned, grooming can be enjoyed with random treats.
The puppy should always be up in a comfortable position for you to groom. Grooming tables with an arm can be quite expensive. If you do not have a grooming table, you can get a non-skid bath mat and place it on a counter top, or a card table, or a picnic table, or on top of the washer or dryer. When the puppy is up on a higher place, you have more control and the puppy is less likely to run away. You should have control of the head either with a noose or collar for manageability.
Welsh Springer Spaniels, by nature, are very clean dogs. The coat texture is one that readily sheds dirt and is easily maintained. General maintenance grooming can be achieved with a greyhound comb, slicker brush, thinning scissors, small scissors for feet and ears, stripping blade and toenail trimmers or grinder for nails. Grooming for the show ring requires a few more tools and a little more elbow grease. I will be suggesting several tools which I have found comfortable to use. Many grooming tools serve the same purpose; it is desirable for you to try several different types and find which ones feel comfortable in your hand to use. Welsh Springer groomers in the United States are more prone to using clippers for trim work, whereas, in other countries, most grooming is done by hand using scissors and stripping (with blades or thumb and finger).