How many times have you witnessed your dog lick and chew at his fur or roll around on the floor? This odd behaviour is often his attempt at self grooming. It would seem even your dog needs a little help in the grooming department sometimes and there’s no reason why you can’t be that helping hand! Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to becoming an expert dog groomer.
1. Brushing tips
Dogs naturally gather dirt in their fur so it’s vital that you brush their coat regularly to help keep them clean and healthy. Not only that routine brushing enhances your dog’s appearance by distributing natural oils throughout the entire coat. However different coats require different attention.
Smooth and short coats (e.g. Chihuahua)
These dog breeds only need weekly grooming sessions, using a soft bristle rubber brush to take out any dead hair. You can also rub a chamois cloth over the coat to give it a nice sheen, and that’s it – your easy-grooming dog is ready to go!
Thick and short coats (e.g. Golden Retriever)
These require a bit more attention as they can be prone to matting. A weekly routine should involve using a slicker style brush to remove tangles, and a bristle brush to pick up any dead hair – and don’t forget to pull a comb through their tail too.
Long coats (e.g. Cocker Spaniel)
With a luxurious long coat comes more responsibility! Dogs with long coats will often need grooming daily. Use a slicker brush to smooth out tangles and remove matting, then brush the coat with a bristle-style brush every day.
2. Bathing tips
First things first – how often should you bathe your dog? ‘Not too often,’ is the short answer. A dog’s coat needs its natural oils to remain soft and silky and to keep from getting brittle or damaged. If you bathe your dog too often (every week, for example), you will strip away those oils. A good rule of thumb is to only bathe your dog when he is noticeably dirty or smelly. However, the time between baths will vary from dog to dog (a long-haired dog will get tangled and matted hair if he goes too long between baths), and may also change from one time of year to another. Certain breeds also have more particular needs. For example, bulldogs require special attention between the folds on their face. In cases like this, it’s best to talk to your vet to get grooming tips specific to your pup.
- Before bathing, brush your dog to remove any dead hair or mats.
- Gather all the things you need – shampoo, towels, possibly a bucket beforehand. Don’t turn your back on a wet dog unless you want to be involved in a chase!
- A bath mat made of rubber should be placed in the tub to keep your pooch from slipping and sliding.
- Use lukewarm water, filling the tub to a maximum of four inches.
- Don’t spray directly in the eyes, nose or ears – If you don’t have a hand-held shower head, use a large plastic container instead to direct the water where you want it to go.
- Rinse well – The flaky, itchy discomfort many dogs experience after a bath comes from inadequate shampoo removal (or sometimes by too-frequent bathing).
And remember – dogs love a good shake to remove excess water! A shake starts at the dog’s head, so if you hold his head still, shaking will be limited. If you really want to avoid getting an unwanted shower, you can actually teach your dog to shake on command. This takes a little patience and training, but it can be done!
3. Trimming tips
Nails need to be trimmed on a regular basis – anywhere from once a week to once a month. If you struggle with this task, the best thing to do is ask your vet to train you in the proper techniques for nail trimming. Through gentle massage techniques you can get your dog used to you touching his paws. Do this for at least two weeks before attempting to trim your dog’s nails and you’ll find this task gets a lot easier. You can also try giving him a treat every time you trim his nails to make the whole experience a more positive one!
- Hold the handle of the nail trimmers flat against the toe pad and cut straight across the nail, so that the nail will sit just above the ground.
- To get a shorter cut, aim to cut at a 45° angle, but be careful to stay away from the quick (the pink area within the nail where the nerves and blood vessels are, similar to the area underneath our nails).
- If you do accidentally cut the nails too short you can use styptic powder, or simply use a clean bar of soap and run it under the damaged nail. The soap will plug the vessel and stop the bleeding.
- Clip after bathing as this can help with the hardness issue, as they nails will be softer.
- Use an emery board or file to smooth any jagged ends on cut nails.