We will help you to understand different grooming techniques which you can use at home. These will enable you to understand your dog and how to make your grooming session quick, thorough and fun.
Grooming is a great opportunity for bonding, and should be enjoyable for you both.
To help make brushing easier for both you and your dog, place your dog on a solid surface approximately at waist height. The benefits of this are:
- It is much more efficient for you to be brushing at this height. You can access all areas of your dog easily.
- Brushing your dog in a place it never otherwise goes, except for grooming, reinforces to your dog the following:
- Ground level remains its normal domain for play, exercise, meals and ‘every day’ living.
- The ‘grooming spot’ remains exactly that, ‘the grooming spot’. By being placed in this area strictly for grooming, your dog will learn to associate this spot with grooming. Also the associated behaviour which you must teach it with consistency and positive rewards.
- If you take your dog to a professional grooming salon, your dog will already be accustomed to this grooming position and it will create one less experience for it to be anxious about.
If you have a short haired dog, brushing is as simple as using one or a combination of the following:
- A bristle brush
- A ‘Kong’ zoom groom
- A slicker brush
- A furminator
- A pumice stone
Brush to remove as much loose hair and dirt as possible, but without causing distress to the underlying skin.
For long haired dogs, brushing is more of a challenge, but by following these simple steps you can keep the longest of coats in tip top condition.
- Use a slicker brush (or a pin brush if you really are going to use it regularly and thoroughly) to remove knots, dirt and debris.
- A brush is a preferred grooming tool instead of a comb. When a brush ‘hits’ a knot, it has an amount of flexibility in it that creates less pull on the hair. When a comb ‘hits’ a knot there is no ‘give’ and this creates much more discomfort for your dog as the hair pulls away from the skin.
- Always brush your dog before the bath. If your dog goes into the bath without brushing, any knots in the coat will tighten and compact when they get wet. Regular bathing and no brushing (or little) will ensure your dog becomes matted very quickly.
- By starting at the feet, lift the coat with your opposite hand to brushing, and brush the coat down (with the growth of hair). Continue working your way up the coat, ensuring your brush is ‘brushing’ all the hair and you are working through the hair to the skin.
- Work in a symmetrical pattern around your dog. This will ensure you complete a thorough job in the shortest amount of time possible.
- Don’t forget to brush the ears and around the muzzle. These areas need regular attention. A combination of the dinner bowl and the sweet smells of the ground whilst out walking will encourage dirt and knots to gather.
- If both you and your dog are learning this process, do your grooming in ‘bite size’ time slots. Instead of asking your dog to stand still for thirty minutes, (and then get impatient and frustrated when they don’t), break your grooming session up. Either groom in smaller time frames eg: five minutes or by area of the dog eg: ‘one side’. Finish this slot on a positive note (when the dog is co operating) and reward your dog for good behaviour. Place the dog on the ground and let them have some free time (you can also reward yourself). Repeat this process until your dog is completely groomed. This will encourage good behaviour from your dog and will prevent you from getting frustrated.
- Always finish the brushing on your terms, and not your dogs. If your dog tries to bite, wriggle, sit down or generally just misbehave, do not reward them by stopping. This gives them exactly what they wanted and next time you try to brush them they will remember the technique they used on you last time and will try it again.
- Do not give your dog treats to prevent it from biting, wriggling, sitting down or general misbehaviour, it sees this as a reward for doing exactly that. You are encouraging and rewarding bad behaviour. Only reward good behaviour.
- If you wish your children to learn responsibility in regards to pet ownership, and dedicate the brushing task to them, always supervise and check their work. It can be a difficult task on some breeds and even though they are performing the task, it does not guarantee they have been thorough. Your support and teaching will enhance their learning and ensure a well groomed dog.
- When you have finished brushing the coat, use a suitable comb to run through the hair. This will ensure you have removed all the knots and debris. If your comb catches, and the knot does not come out with minimal effort, use your brush to concentrate on that area once again. The comb must move freely through the coat.
- Reward your dog and yourself for job well done.
Bathing is an integral step in the complete grooming process.
If performed thoroughly your dog will feel and smell oh so good.
- Brush and comb the coat before bathing (see brushing tips)
- Gather all the equipment you need before placing your dog in the bath
- Place a rubber bath mat in the tub to prevent your pet slipping and feeling insecure
- The most efficient method of bathing your pet is with a hand held shower hose, if you do not have one of these you need a jug and sponge to wet and rinse your pet with. The shower hose will make your job much quicker and thorough. The water pressure will ensure you penetrate the coat and will do the work for you in rinsing the product from the coat.
- Even the water loving dogs still protest about having a bath! To help make the experience a more enjoyable one try to become a quick and efficient bather, this will reduce the amount of time they spend in the tub and the associated stress. Try to make it an enjoyable, light hearted experience instead of a battle of the wills.
- Place your pet in the tub and wet thoroughly. A dogs coat is initially water repellant; this prevents it from becoming heavy and chilled when it goes into a body of water. Ensure you are wetting the coat right through to the skin.
- Use a shampoo suitable for dogs (ph balanced for dogs’ skin) and if necessary for any skin conditions, colour of the coat, texture or flea treatment. If you are unsure, discuss with your professional groomer which shampoo would be suitable for your individual requirements.
- Apply shampoo to the palm of your hands, and then to your pets coat. This will ensure it goes on to the coat and not down the plug hole.
- Be generous with the shampoo, the purpose of bathing is to have a clean dog, you can not have this if you skimp on the shampoo.
- Ensure you massage the shampoo between the toes, under the tail area and around the muzzle (if long haired) as these areas are often neglected.
- Continue to massage the shampoo into the coat. This will increase and improve circulation and dissolve and lift dirt from the coat.
- Thoroughly rinse the shampoo from the coat. This is so important. If all the shampoo is not rinsed from the coat the residue will remain on the skin and create a very itchy environment for your dog. When rinsing your dog, the water must be allowed to flow down the drain so that only clean water is been used to rinse. It defeats the purpose if you are recycling sudsy water onto the coat. You know you have finished rinsing when the water running off the dogs coat is suds free.
- If you wish to condition your pets coat use a suitable conditioner for their hair type. Again use sufficient quantity to massage through the coat. Conditioners will not lather so you need to use enough to distribute evenly through the hair.
- Allow to stand for a few moments while it goes to work.
- Rinse, rinse and rinse again. It’s just as important to rinse the conditioner from the coat, as it was for the shampoo. Don’t think that by leaving some in it will make the coat softer or delay knotting. It will only irritate your dog if left there.
- When you get a chance, clean up the bathroom or laundry and change into dry clothes!
Drying your pet will minimize the risk of them acquiring a chill, and with long haired breeds it will help to straighten the coat for any trimming you may wish to do.
- Use a pet chamois or towel to absorb as much water from the coat as possible. For long haired breeds, blot the coat rather than rub. Rubbing will produce friction knots in the coat which will then need to be brushed out.
- If you are not blow drying your dog, keep them in a warm area or take them for a walk so they keep warm and don’t chill.
- If blow drying use it on a cool setting. If the dryer is blowing hot air, it can be burning the pets’ skin before the hair is actually dry.
- Desensitize your pet to the sound and sensation of the blow dryer. You can do this by having it turned on low and having them in the room, but without it directed at them. Also reward your dog for accepting the sound, and not running away or barking. Remember only reward good behaviour. Start blow drying your dog on a low fan speed and only increase this if their tolerance level allows this. Start at the rear end so your dog becomes accustomed to the sound and sensation of the dryer, gradually working your way forward. Dry the head last as this area is very sensitive. Do not direct the blow dryer into your pets’ eye area. If you brush the coat as you dry, this will straighten the hair and ensure a uniform finish and an easier coat to scissor.
- Brush or comb through the coat to remove any friction knots or lose hair.
- Over drying the coat can produce static. To help eliminate this, use dog friendly anti-static spray, or ‘leave-in’ coat conditioners.
- Reward yourself and your dog for another job well done.
If your dog receives sufficient regular exercise (including hard surfaces like footpaths and bike paths) the nails will be worn down to their natural level.
For those dogs that prefer to sleep the day away, nail trimming is an integral part of the grooming process.
|The nails can be trimmed of excess length but the 'quick' (comprising of the blood vessel and nerve) within the nail must be taken into consideration. The quick can be seen clearly on white nailed dogs but not on black ones.Be careful to trim just the ends if your unsure.|
As well as brushing and bathing your dog it's a good policy to also check the ears.
The ear should be clean and pink. If there is any smell, discharge, build up of solid dirt or the skin is swollen or inflammed then it is advisable to see your local vet.
To help minimize ear infections you can purchase ear cleaning solutions for home use.Those dogs with floppy ears tend to have more ear related problems than those with erect ears. This is due to the reduced air circulation within the ear canal.
Keeping the eye area clean on small and white breed dogs is an ongoing commitment. There are a number of products available to help minimize the discolouration around the eye area, but there is no product that will eradicate the staining 100%. Your best option is to bath the eye area with a cottonwool ball moistened with water. Please don't use bleaches or peroxides .. these can cause severe irratation to the eye.You can keep the hair trimmed short in the corner of the eye using scissors, or use your fingernail to gently remove debris buildup. It is easier and kinder to your dog if the area is moistened first (in the bath is ideal).
It is also important to check your dogs feet.
Whilst out walking they can pick up either grass seeds or chewing gum.
Grass seeds are evident from spring to Autumn. Due to their spear head design they attach to your dogs hair and can continue to penetrate into the skin. This penetration can cause an abscess which then requires surgery by your vet. If you check your dogs feet after each walk you can easily remove these grass seeds.