Whether they’re long-haired afghans or rough-and-tumble jack russells, grooming is a fact of life for all breeds of dogs. It’s essential to keep their coat clean and free from matting, burrs and other debris that is collected as part of everyday active life.
However, many people feel uncomfortable when grooming and this anxiety can be passed on to their pets. This is no fun for anyone, because grooming and hygiene is essential to a dog’s wellbeing and general health.
Set the mood
The easiest way to have a good grooming session is to make sure your pooch is relaxed and happy. A squirming dog that’s determined to get away is nigh-on impossible to brush and clean effectively, as is one that tries to snatch the comb from your hand.
Think of it as an extended petting opportunity - with tools. Keep your voice calm and soothing, and provide plenty of stroking to reassure. If necessary, you can reward good behaviour with occasional treats.
The first step to any amount of grooming is to give your dog a good brushing, as matting is even harder to deal with when it gets wet (lots of us have accidentally felted a woollen jumper in the washing machine, and dog hair goes through a similar process when water comes into play). The type of brush you need will depend on your pooch’s coat.
For short-haired breeds, a basic brush will generally be enough. For longer-haired pets, there are a variety of options, so check what coat length and thickness each tool is designed for.
You also need to consider the size of the brush itself. If you have a small dog, then a large brush is going to be difficult and unwieldy. On the other hand, grooming a St Bernard with a tiny brush will take far too long, even for the most patient of pets.
As you brush, work gently, starting at the ends of matted sections. If you need to tug and pull at the coat, pinch the hair above the affected area, and use your other hand to prevent the force hurting your dog. If it’s clear a matted area is beyond help, you can clip or trim it at this stage.
It may be fiddly, but brushing is a really important process to keep your dog’s coat and skin healthy. Matting near the skin can encourage yeast infections, among other conditions. However, brushing helps to distribute natural oils along the length of the hair, which will keep your pooch’s fur in tip-top condition.
One of the most human-friendly advantages of brushing is that it prevents the amount of shed hair around the house. If this is a big concern, choose a brush with built-in anti-shedding features such as one of the Furminator range.
Washing your dog can sometimes be messy and stressful, but there are plenty of ways to make it easier. To start with, accept that water is going to get splashed around, and wear clothes you don’t mind getting wet and/or slightly mucky. Put down some mats in the bathroom to soak up any drips, and get ready to go!
Choose a good dog shampoo, as these are specially formulated to make the most of a dog’s coat in a way that human versions are not. For example, the Animal Health Tea Tree Shampoo can help to tackle mites, fungi and other microbes. However, you should still take care not to get any soap or shampoo in your pet’s eyes, as this will be uncomfortable for them.
You’ll also need to rinse as thoroughly as possible, as residual shampoo can cause dryness and itching for your pooch’s skin. A detachable shower attachment can be a real help for this part, as you can easily target the flow of water to the areas that need it most.
If you’re reading this and shuddering at what the process will do to your bathroom, then consider visiting a professional groomer for washing, as there’s no sense getting stressed over such an essential part of routine care.
Written by: Hannah Dyball