Training for Grooming

by Joyce Johanson

Regular grooming is a necessity if you plan to keep your Lhasa Apso's coat free of mats and tangles. Therefore it is necessary to teach your Lhasa puppy--when he is young and before he really requires a lot of brushing--to accept grooming as part of his routine.

First teach him to lie on his side or back while he is being brushed. So many of the trouble spots for mats, such as the insides of the legs, the chest, the "arm"pits, and the stomach, are difficult to reach unless the Lhasa is on his back or side.

Begin your grooming training as soon as you get your puppy. Hold him on his back on your lap and gently rub his tummy until he relaxes. It's best to do this during the puppy's quiet time and not when he is full of boundless energy and wants to play.

Even though the puppy has little coat to brush at this age, accustom him to the feel of the brush by using a small pin brush to groom his legs, feet, chest and stomach. Then allow him to lie on his stomach, sit, or stand while you brush his sides, neck, head, and face. Constantly reassure him and praise him when he is still. Be sure to tell him how gorgeous he looks when the grooming is done.

Keep these sessions short. Their purpose is to familiarize the puppy with the routine of grooming and the feel of the brush.

Of course, not all puppies tolerate lying on their backs or sides and cooperating with you. At times you will be amazed at how stubborn and strong a puppy can be when he is determined not to lie on his back! Be persistent and patient. Do not strike the puppy. You are training him for future grooming sessions that both you and he should come to enjoy. Don't spoil the future by letting your temper flare when the puppy gets uncooperative.

Some puppies will try to convince you that you are "killing" them by making them lie on their backs. Don't be taken in by a con artist. These same puppies are the ones that you will later find sleeping soundly on their backs in their crates with all four legs spread wide.

Once the puppy accepts lying on his back or side, move him from your lap to a grooming table. The transition may cause some regression in the puppy's behavior since he may feel less secure on a table than he felt on your lap. Again, be persistent and firm. Don't be abusive, but insist on the behavior you want.

From the age of six months on, your Lhasa puppy will need grooming on a regular basis. That's when your early training sessions begin to pay off. Depending on your puppy's coat texture and stage of development, mats and tangles will begin to develop behind the ears and on his underside. You're in for a terrible ordeal if you have not taught your puppy what grooming is all about. Sometimes it hurts when mats are taken out. Sometimes you need to use both hands to loosen the mat and remove, and if you have to hold the puppy down, try to reach one of those hard-to-get-at mats, and remove the mat all at the same time, you are in for an unpleasant grooming session. Neither you nor your puppy will enjoy it. And, for the puppy at least, the unpleasant experience will be remembered the next time and the struggle will begin again.

Both you and your Lhasa will enjoy the grooming sessions which will be so much of your lives if you take time now to teach the puppy what is expected of him when it comes time for grooming. The younger you start, the more accepting the puppy will be. The old sayings about an "ounce of prevention" and a "stitch in time" may be trite but they are certainly true in this situation.

Please note: Permission to reproduce and/or circulate information in this article is granted. However, the article must be disseminated in its entirety and credit must be given to Joyce Johanson, Joyslyn's Lhasa Apsos. Thanks!

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