How Often Should I Groom?
By HFC Member Paula Martel
Getting a Havanese puppy used to grooming can be challenging, but with a puppy that will grow into a long coated dog, it is a necessary evil!
Your Havanese breeder should have started the basics with the puppy but you will need to carry this on for life of your dog. I always have great tasting treats on hand when I am working with a puppy.
Remember with the Havanese, non-shedding does not mean no grooming or no maintenance. A clean and matt free dog is a happy and healthy dog. Regular brushing will maintain a healthy coat and a happier Havanese.
These grooming sessions should be done several times a week. Grooming will also help you see if the puppy has any skin problems such as parasites or growths that do not belong on the dog. The more time you spend with your Havanese puppy, the better the bond will be.
Start by getting your Havanese puppy used to standing or laying on a slip free surface such as a grooming table. If you do not have access to a grooming table, you can use a bath mat with the rubber back on the dryer or large counter space.
Brushing and Combing: With a grooming spray (diluted conditioner) lightly mist the puppy prior to brushing and often in between. Do not make a Havanese puppy wet but just slightly damp. Brushing a Havanese dry can break the coat off in sections and create static. I like to set the puppy into my lap until he adjusts to being brushed then I move on to a table.
You should be brushing the puppy with a pin brush in layers to make sure you get to the base of the coat. Once you have a layer complete, take a fine metal comb and gently comb out the area you just brushed to make sure there are no knots in the coat. Gently spray with your grooming spray, and do another layer.
Continue to do the layers until you have the complete coat brushed. Make sure to not miss the top of the puppy. Most people forget to do this as they have done both sides and the top looks complete. Make sure to stand the puppy up to see that top layer down the back and brush that as well. The tail can be done simply by using your pin brush and brushing gently down. Use your comb again to make sure there are no knots. Your puppy’s head will be the hardest part. If you can get your puppy to sit still, you’ve already won the battle. Treat your puppy for being such a trooper and give him many kisses and hugs.
Nail Trimming: Havanese nails grow quite fast, especially on the front feet. I prefer to trim the nails weekly throughout the life of the puppy as it is much easier to do if you and your puppy are accustomed to it. The nails should be trimmed level to the pads. I like to take the puppy’s foot upside down so I can see what I am trimming. Have some quick clot ready in case you accidentally cut the quick and need to stop the bleeding. If you trim regularly, you should be able to keep the nails nice and short. Treat the puppy for being brave.
Pad Trimming: Havanese can have very fuzzy feet. The puppy’s pads should be trimmed on a regular basis to keep the hair out from underneath so the pads do not splay. With a hair clipper or blunt end scissors, trim all the excess hair from underneath and between the pads. This will also prevent your puppy from sliding on floors. Treat the puppy for being patient.
Ear Cleaning: Check inside your Havanese puppy’s ears; some Havanese have a lot of ear hair in the ear canal while others have very little. You can buy powder specially made for plucking the ears, you only need a little. Gently pull the hair out from inside the ear canal. A clean ear canal may help prevent ear infections. Once you have the ears cleaned, take a cotton ball and clean the inside of the ears with canine ear cleaner. Never use a Q-tip; the puppy can move suddenly and you risk damage to the ear canal. Make sure there is no left over ear cleaner when you are done. Take your time as to not scare or hurt your puppy. Depending on how much ear hair there is, you may need to do this in a few sessions before the ear canal is clean. Treat the puppy for being good about it.
Eye Cleaning: This should be done daily. The Havanese can have some tearing caused by the hair growth between the eyes. Take a warm facecloth or eye cleaning pad and gently remove all the debris from the corners of the eyes. When the puppies are young, I like to place a bit of Vaseline from the corners of the eyes down to keep the hair from growing into the eyes. I prefer not to cut the hair in the corners of the eyes as once the puppy’s hair grows, it will be trained to stay down. Once cut, you will have to continue to do so or the hair will continually grow into the eyes and irritate them. Treat the puppy for being cute.
Grooming does not have to be a struggle. Patience, consistency, praise and firm but gentle persistence on your part will help your Havanese puppy get used to grooming and accept it as a fact of life.
- Previously published in Dogs In Canada Breedlines – June/August 2006
© Copyright Paula Martel. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of the author.