Dog Grooming 101
Keeping your dog groomed is an essential part of dog ownership and a responsibility that is often overlooked or ignored. Here at the shelter we see animals every day whose grooming needs have not been attended to. These animals are often in distress, and more likely to have behavior issues when they are not comfortable in their own skin. Just like people, dogs need physical maintenance to not only look, but more importantly feel their best. Grooming your dog can be an enjoyable experience and help strengthen the bond between you and your pet if done correctly. Here are some helpful tips to make grooming your dog more pleasurable for both you and your best friend!
Never underestimate the power of positive association when it comes to your pet. When introducing anything new to your dog making it a positive experience will make it easier for you to successfully groom your animal in the future. Allow your dog to get accustomed to the tools used for grooming by seeing them, sniffing them, and associating them with kind words, soft touch, and even treats. If you have a puppy, starting the grooming process young is key. Introduce them to the tub without any water and once again associate being in the tub with something positive.
#1 Hair Brushing
Most dogs enjoy being brushed and these sessions can strengthen the bond with your dog while maintaining a healthy coat. Remember no two brushes are the same! Make sure you are using a brush appropriate for the type of coat your dog has.
Most matting occurs on their underside, “arm” pits, and rear, so make sure you are brushing their whole body!
Long-haired dogs usually require daily brushing to prevent matting of the hair.
Medium-haired dogs can be prone to matting and should be brushed at least weekly.
Short-haired dogs can typically go a few weeks.
#2 Nail Trimming
Nail trims are often the most difficult aspect of grooming. Most dogs dislike having their paws handled and can struggle against anyone trying to trim their nails, making it dangerous for both you and your animal. People are uncomfortable with the process for fear of hurting their dogs. But by learning how to trim nails correctly you can ensure a positive experience! Have your vet or groomer show you how to trim your animals nails. Getting your animals accustomed to having their paws handled is key. Start by petting down their leg and slowly touch their paws and toes. Reward them with something such as a treat, good scratch and kind, reassuring words. As your animal grows accustomed to being handling, trimming their nails will become easier. However, this may take time! Consider getting even one nail clipped a success! Keeping the sessions short by doing just a few nails at a time may be your best bet. Nails usually need to be trimmed every few weeks.
Fortunately, dogs do not need to bathe as often as people. For both dogs and their owners bath time can be absolute torture. But bathing does not have to be a chore! Have patience with your pet and take it slow. Make sure to protect their ears and faces, use a damp cloth to wash sensitive areas. Makes sure water is at a comfortable temperature and always work from the neck down! Check with your vet about the best type of shampoo to use on your animal, always use products designed for dogs.
#4 Ear Care
Your dog’s ears can be a haven for bacteria and yeast if not kept clean. Some dogs ears go their whole lives without ear problems, while other dogs may suffer from chronic ear issues. Dogs with floppy ears or long hair are predisposed to ear problems because the ear canal simply does have as much air exposure. If your dog has excess debris or foul odor, or it seems like your dogs is constantly scratching and rubbing their ears talk with your vet as that could be an indication of a possible ear infection. If your dog’s ears are infected they will not want their ear to be touched, so take caution!
Dogs with hair that is continuously growing such as the Poodle or Shih Tzu may need their hair cut as often as every 2-4 weeks, while shorthair breeds may never need a cut at all! Cutting your dogs hair can be tricky and best left to groomers.
Please talk to your vet before shaving your dog’s double coat! Double coats, also known as undercoat, are very, fine, fluffy hairs closest to the body. Common dog breeds that have undercoats include the German Shepherd, Pomeranian, Chow-Chow, Husky’s, Malamute and Samoyed. The hairs are short, crimped, which makes them highly efficient at trapping air and insulating the animal. This keeps them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The lighter, softer coat that shed naturally does not need to be shaved. If any dog is severely matted, then shaving is the only way to get the coat back to normal. Also, shaving your dog doesn’t mean it still won’t shed, that is a myth. Important, dogs with under coats rarely need shaving.
Please note grooming needs differ depending on many different factors, including, but not limited to, the breed, size, and age of your dog. You will need to research or speak with a groomer or your vet about what type of care your dog requires and how often they need to be groomed. Create a schedule and stick to it. Most of all have fun and turn this necessary task into a bonding experience for you both!