Welcome to the second and final instalment of our dog grooming tips series. In this article we’ll be getting down to the nitty gritty details of dog grooming.
Why Brush/Groom Your Dog?
Brushing your dog can be a great way to maintain and improve skin and coat health and overall pet care. Brushing spread the healthy minerals and oil already in your dog's hair, around the coat promoting a clean coat. Brushing also removes any knotted or loose hair and slides dirt off the coat. From an emotional perspective, brushing also heightens the bond between both dog and owner and should be a comfortable and pleasant experience for both.
How often should I brush my dog?
This really depends on the dog's coat and needs. Of course the longer the hair the more often your dog will be needing a coat. Dogs with shorter hair may not even need brushing but rather just a good grooming glove to remove any loose hair. However, as a rule of thumb:
- Smooth, Short Haired Dogs: Once every few weeks
- Short dense fur: Once a week or fortnightly
- Long Coated, Double coated: Once a week
- Puppies: This may take a little longer but make sure that your puppy feels comfortable being touched and handled.
If you don’t brush your dog’s hair, this can predispose your dog’s skin to develop infection and irritation. If you notice that your dog has a lot of matting, this may be difficult to remove without specialised clippers.
How To Train Your Dog To Enjoy Grooming
Step 1: It is important to make sure that your dog and puppy feel comfortable by patting and stroking different parts of their body. During this process it is important to praise and reward your dog for staying calm and being comfortable with you handling and patting them. It is important to go slowly and pat the on the chest area first, moving to the shoulder, side and along the back. You should try to make your way to their leg and lift one paw up at a time. Again, continue to praise throughout this process.
Step 2: When your dog feels comfortable with you petting them in certain areas, be sure to slowly introduce a brush. Use a dog brush and make sure to associate it with good thinking. During your brushing be sure to repeat positive affirmations and give them a treat. Do not start brushing them yet but make sure to put the brush next to your dog.
Step 3: Once you dog feels comfortable with the brush being next to them, start gently using the brush on them. Again, make sure you keep repeating positive affirmations and give them treats. Try stroking them a few times around the chest area and then extend to other part of the body. Make sure to move with the hair rather than against it.
Step 4: Once your dog is comfortable you can start stroking your brush in the opposite direction. Be sure to look for any fleas or dirt.
Step 5: If confronted with any matts or knots, carefully trim off rather than trying to get them out with a brush.
Step 6: If your dog seems upset or uncomfortable, stop and start again another day.
Step 7: Observe dogs' faces when brushing. Improve and change your brushing technique if your dog feels uncomfortable.
Step 8: Make sure your grooming sessions with your dog are kept short. This is so your dog does not feel overwhelmed or uncomfortable.
In addition to brushing, some hair trimming is needed. Particular areas that may need to regularly be trimmed include:
- Around the eye area, if the hair is starting to obscure vision or cause irritation.
- Hair growing around the anus which is trapping faeces.
- 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.
I would also use a blunt nosed scissors and ask your local Vet for advice when trimming your precious pooch. Never point a scissors towards your dog when trimming and pay particular attention when trimming around the eyes. You may also use food as a way of calming your dog when trimming.
In order to keep good paw health for your dog it is important to:
- Monitoring your dog for any limping.
- Checking their feet and footpads regularly to ensure there are no wounds or infections.
- Some dogs can have extra hair between their footpads which can become matted or catch debris (e.g. grass seeds). Carefully trimming that extra hair can help.
- Removing any debris such as grass seeds and burrs around the paws.
Make sure your dog’s nails are healthy and are at an adequate length:
- Dog’s nails should be trimmed as required and this tends to vary between individual dogs.
- Basically, if the nails are getting too long they can be trimmed. Trim a small amount off the tip.
- Talk to your vet about how to trim nails. They can show you how to do it safely, what length is suitable and what type of clipper to use. It’s very important not to trim too short as this can cause bleeding and pain.
Enough daily exercise should keep your dog’s nails in good condition and healthy. However, it is important to know that the dog's nails don’t touch the ground when walking and or running and to keep an eye out so the nail does not grow and curve into your dogs skin, causing pain and discomfort.
It is important to recognise the first signs of ear problems in your dog. These signs include: head shaking, ear discharge, ear scratching, rubbing ears along the floor or furniture, redness/swelling around the ear opening; sensitivity around the head area; a head tilt and an unpleasant odour.
- Talk to your vet if you think your dog has an ear problem and they can check.
- Vets usually do a routine ear check using an otoscope when doing annual health check-ups. If they see an issue they may prescribe medicated ear drops or ear cleaner.
- If your dog is not showing any signs of an ear problem then for most dogs it is best to leave their ears alone. This is because putting ear products into healthy ears can potentially cause a problem.
- If your dog has long, droopy ears that hang over their ear openings, skin allergies or recurrent ear infections, monitor them regularly for any signs of an ear problem and follow your vets advice.
To help keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy. It is important to:
- Provide safe chew items daily.
- Chewing is a basic and natural behaviour for dogs and they need regular opportunities to chew on appropriate items.
- Chewing also helps to keep teeth and gums healthy.
- Chew items include dog chew toys and dental chews.
- You may also offer a raw meaty bone once or twice a week. Always talk to your vet first to check raw meaty bones are suitable for your particular dog. Remember, bones must be raw and human-grade.
To maintain your dog’s good eyesight, it is important to:
- Monitor your dog’s eye health.
- Healthy eyes generally appear clear and bright and they are usually symmetrical (including symmetrical pupils). Squinting or holding an eye closed also often signals an eye problem.
- It’s helpful to know the signs of an eye problem such as eye discharge and redness. Squinting or holding an eye closed also often signals an eye problem.
- If you notice any eye changes take your pet to the local vet as soon as possible. Eye problems can worsen rapidly.
- Hair around the eye area that is obscuring vision to help prevent irritation should be trimmed. Blunt-nosed safety scissors should be used, always pointing them away from the eyes and taking extra care not to touch the eyes.