Grooming and Your Puppy
At some time in your dog's life he's going to need to be groomed and bathed. Even a shorthaired dog needs occasional brushing to stimulate his skin and remove dead hairs, and he'll also need bathing to smell his best, remove the stench of that unidentifiable thing he rolled in, or treat for parasites or skin disorders. A longhaired dog will require frequent brushing, possibly along with removing mats and tangles. He may also need trimming and clipping, and more frequent bathing to remove excessive oils and dirt that cause his hair to tangle and smell bad. If you wait until he's old enough to actually need these things, you'll take a risk of waiting until he's old enough to fight you about them---and maybe strong enough to win.
So start brushing and bathing him when he's too little to even need it. This way you can brush his back one day, a leg the next, or bathe one foot one day, and his tail the next---since he doesn't really need it yet, you don't have to do his entire body. Use a soft bristle brush and just go over a small part of him, giving him a treat every few strokes if he's being good. If he already has long hair, you can switch to a pin brush once he's being good with the soft brush. If you encounter a tangle, don't just rip through it. Stop the brushing and ease the tangle apart with your fingers, pulling it apart lengthwise and taking care not to pull at his skin. Give him a treat for being good.
But what if he's not good? You may have to backstep and brush for fewer strokes, or over less area. A good idea is to wait until he's tired out, so he won't be wriggling so much or biting at the toy you call a brush. Hold him in your lap while he's drowsy and do a little brushing then.
As he gets better, you may wish to teach him to be brushed on a grooming table or similar structure. Again, use plenty of treats. Be extremely careful that he can't jump or fall off the table. You may wish to start with something low, like a coffee table with a towel placed over it.
While you're grooming, be sure to part his fur to look for signs of parasites or infection. If you see fleas or flea dirt (black specks that turn red when you get them wet), or if you see ticks or anything crawling, ask your veterinarian about appropriate treatment. Puppyhood is the prime time for demodectic mange mites to cause thin or patchy hair, especially on the face. Your veterinarian can diagnose the condition with a skin scraping, and discuss treatment options. Young puppies, especially female, are also susceptible to getting little bumps and crusted sores on their lower abdomen that may need to be cleaned and treated daily.
Your puppy is also going to have to get used to being bathed. Do not just take him out in the yard and turn the hose on him! To start, use tap water that's about the same temperature as you'd bathe in. If he can fit in a sink, bathe him there.
Remember, you don't have to bathe his entire body. Just do a foot or leg the first time, and let him earn a lot of treats. It's a lot easier if you have a helper who can steady him and reward him throughout the process.
Be sure that he doesn't get cold afterward---you want him to enjoy the experience. Dry him with a towel and ideally, get him used to a blow dryer. Just turn it on near him at first and let him get used to it. Then let the blown air hit his leg or back from a distance, gradually moving closer. Avoid his face for now. If it's cold, he'll quickly learn that the blow dryer is nice! But give him treats to further convince him.
One place you might be taking him is to the groomer. If he's a breed that will need professional grooming as an adult, call the groomer and ask if your puppy can come for a visit (once his vaccinations are up to date) just so he can associate the grooming shop with a fun time. That way when you leave him to be groomed, he won't be a upset about it. And with the good training you've given him about being brushed, groomed and dried, he'll take that in stride as well, and the groomers will enjoy his visits.
Take the time now to make sure that grooming is a pleasure, not a battle.