It’s easy to overlook grooming your dog, especially if you have a short-coated breed. When I talk about grooming, though, I don’t just mean brushing your dog’s fur. There’s more to it than a brush and bath! A simple at-home grooming session is what your dog needs to stay healthy and happy.
The first thing you probably think of when you hear “grooming” is brushing your dog’s fur, right? Different coats have different needs, some of them requiring professional care. I, for instance, being a Poodle, have to go get my hair cut every 6-8 weeks. If it isn’t cut, hair starts falling over my eyes! Besides professional grooming, my humans also have to brush me with a pin brush. Ask your veterinarian or other owners of your breed what grooming tools they use and purchase those. Short-coated breeds will only need to be brushed about once a week (unless they are crazy shedders; if they are, brush them every day!). Dogs with long coats, however, will need to be brushed once a day to keep their coats in top condition.
If your dog has an undercoat (think of hair like a collie’s), make sure that you don’t just brush your dog’s top coat. These breeds have two coats, so you have to make sure to get under the top coat to the under one. If you fail to brush his under coat, it will become so knotted it may have to be cut off. Sometimes, after cutting a dog’s hair, it never grows back as well as it did before.
You don’t often think of including your dog’s ears in the grooming session. Sure, you brush them, but have you ever cleaned them?
If your dog’s breed is one that has real hair (Poodles, Goldendoodles, Labradoodles, etc.), you will need to pluck the hairs out of their ears. Since these breeds’ hair keeps growing, the ear hair will just get longer and longer, clogging up and causing moisture to build, which leads to yeast infections. However, don’t try to pluck them out by hand. The best way to do this is with a specially made plucking tool and some ear powder to make gripping the hair easier. This is best done by a professional groomer, as they know how to get those hairs out without hurting your dog’s ear canal
For Rosie the Golden Retriever’s ears, my humans use a baby wipe to get the dirt out. One human holds a spoon of peanut butter for Rosie to lick while another cleans her ears. This way, Rosie will always associate her ears being cleaned with something good.
If your dog’s nails have ever scratched you, you know the need for cutting them! Plus, not having them cut can cause terrible pain to your dog. In the worst scenario, the nails could curl up and poke into his paw pad, causing terrible pain when walking. Of course, you would notice if this started to happen and immediately take your dog to the vet, but even somewhat mild growing can cause the nails some harm. For instance, if you let your dog’s nails grow out too long, it will be harder to cut them without making them bleed later on. You can cut your pooch’s nails at home with a special tool (ask your groomer or veterinarian to show you how) or have a professional do it. Don’t try to cut your dog’s nails without having a professional show you how first! You could cut the quick (a blood vessel) in your dog’s nail, which will bleed a lot and hurt and frighten your dog.
Cutting your dog’s nails will not dull them; they will still be pokey enough to tear your skin and clothes. If you want your dog to have dulled nails, take an emery board and buff them. Don’t forget to have the nails cut as well!
Naturally, in order to have a fully clean and groomed dog, he needs to get a bath. Before you
scrub-a-dub-dub, fully brush your dog. While this may seem silly as you will mess up your dog’s hair scrubbing it, it will prevent you from scrubbing any knots, making them tighter and tighter. Now, in lukewarm water, work up a good lather with dog shampoo, careful not to get any into your pet’s eyes or any water down his ears. Make sure to really scrub the base of his tail, his feet, and the scruff of the neck. These are all fleas’ favorite hiding spots!
Making it Enjoyable
Some dogs love to be groomed, while others definitely don’t see it as a fun past time! This can be because they are forced to stand still, the brushing is uncomfortable, they don’t like getting their ears or feet touched, or they don’t like water. So, to trump these discomforts, you need to give your dog a whole lot of praise and treats. Dice up a hot dog and, after a few strokes with the brush, feed him a piece. Or, as you’re cleaning out his ear, scratch your dog’s favorite spot. Grooming can actually be a bonding time between you and your dog once your pooch learns to associate it with good things.