Since every dog is an individual with likes and dislikes, the most essential tools you can bring to the table are patience coupled with a calm, stress-free environment. If you are anxious, your dog will pick up on this and it often makes the grooming harder. Of course, having the grooming done in a very quiet area of the home will also help ease the nerves of an anxious dog. These 2 things along with kindness go a long way to eliminate the discomfort and fearfulness in even the most difficult pet and help to develop a rapport between the two of you. Firm but gentle handling will establish who is in control and help eliminate unwanted behaviour and is fundamental in gaining the trust and confidence in your pet. Here are a few tips on how to groom your dogs:
1) BRUSH THEIR COATS TO KEEP THEIR FUR AND SKIN HEALTHY AND CLEAN
Brushing your dog will remove dirt, debris, dead hair and unpleasant odors from the coat and the skin. It distributes the natural oils, making your dog’s coat shiny and healthy. Proper brushing will eliminate matting and tangling, which will make your next grooming experience go more smoothly. Your longer-haired pooch needs more than just a brushing to keep his coat matt free. Follow up the brushing by using a metal comb to get down to the skin and locate any matts that may be starting to form. Proceed gently with a metal comb, especially if your pup’s skin is particularly sensitive.
2) BRUSH THEIR TEETH ATLEAST ONCE A DAY
Ideally, you should brush your dog’s teeth daily, but even 4 – 5 times a week makes a big difference. Use only toothpaste made especially for dogs. Dogs can’t spit, and human toothpaste contains unsafe ingredients which could make him sick if he were to swallow it. I use a child’s toothbrush so it’s softer on my dog’s gums, but a lot of people have good luck with the rubber finger brush. If you still find it difficult to brush your dog’s teeth, dental sprays and specially designed chew treats can be helpful.
3) How Often to Bathe Your Dog
How often to bathe your dog will vary between each individual dog and their particular needs. Essentially, dogs should only be bathed when necessary. Bathing is generally required when a dog has an unpleasant odour or they’ve accumulated dirt/mud on their coat. So if your dog smells normal (remembering that most dogs have a healthy dog smell which is not unpleasant) and they are not dirty, then bathing is probably not necessary at that stage.
If dogs are bathed too frequently this can dry out their skin and hair coat and may cause problems. Only bathing when it is necessary should help to prevent the skin drying out due to excessive bathing as the natural oils on the skin and coat won’t be stripped away too frequently.
Dogs with skin problems may require different bathing schedules as part of their treatment plan and your vet can provide advice.
Other dogs that go swimming may require less bathing as this activity can function like a bath. Remember, if you do allow your dog to swim occasionally, supervise them at all times and stick to safe and shallow waters where your dog can always touch the ground.
4) Trimming Hair
In addition to brushing and bathing, some dogs may need their hair trimmed from time to time. Your local veterinary clinic can advise and show you how to trim your dog’s hair safely or you may like to organise for the vet clinic or a professional groomer to assist. Common body areas that may require regular hair trimming for some dogs include:
- Around the eye area, if the hair is starting to obscure vision or cause irritation.
- Hair around the chin and lower jaw trapping food or to help prevent lip and chin fold infections.
- Areas where debris (grass seeds, burrs) are trapped in hair.
- Areas where there are hair mats and tangles.
5) Do a weekly dog paw check
When a dog starts to limp, most people will take a good look at the feet to see what’s wrong. But get in the habit of looking at each foot weekly. Get down on the floor, or do it with your dog in your lap. Look at the top and the bottom of the foot, between the toes, the foot pads, between the foot pads and check the nails. Look for redness, swelling, tenderness, bleeding or signs of irritation. Press gently on the pads, around the toes, and on the nail bed.
If your dog winces, whimpers, or pulls away like it’s causing discomfort, look closer. The three things I’d be most suspicious of are foreign bodies (slivers, weed seeds, gum), cuts, or signs that the dog has been licking her paws (wet and red underneath the feet or brown on top from saliva staining.