Grooming Your Dog
Grooming is vital for maintaining your dog’s health and a great way to bond with your beloved pet. This step by step guide will help get you started with the basics.
Brushing is the simplest way to groom your dog and something that you can easily learn to do! Be gentle and brush along the direction of the hair growth giving lots of praise as you go. Most dogs enjoy being brushed. It helps to distribute the natural oils in their coat and get rid of any excess hair and dirt. It also gives you a chance to spot any problems such as skin infections or fleas.
Let your dog investigate the brush before you start. Remember, it is an unknown object and your dog has no idea what is going to happen, so utilise their natural curiosity. Let them have a good sniff of the brush and then start very slowly with one or two brushes, another few sniffs, more brushes and so on.
How often should I brush my dog?
Depending on whether your dog has short or long hair, will determine how often they should be brushed.
Long-haired dogs and those with thick or curly hair will need frequent grooming as their coats can mat easily. They should be brushed every two to three days, or even every day if needed. Short-coated dogs should be brushed at least once or twice a week.
Which type of brush should I use?
It can be overwhelming when it comes to selecting brushes as there are many different types out there for different purposes.
- A double-sided brush is often a good place to start as it is suitable for a multitude of coats. It has wire pin bristles on one side for any tangles and a bristle brush on the other side for general brushing and finishing off.
- A pin brush is particularly good for dogs with medium to long hair and for curly coats.
- Slicker brushes have a pad of fine wire bristles and are used for coats that have a tendency to mat or tangle. They are useful for short to medium coats and short curly hair.
- Undercoat rakes have a row of metal pins spaced a little apart, designed to get under your dog’s coat and get rid of any dirt or dead hair. Some are spring loaded to avoid tearing the healthy hair. Use an undercoat rake if your dog moults frequently.
- Grooming mitts are used to get rid of dirt and dead hair on dogs with short coats.
- Combs are useful for removing mats and tangles and are good for combing out long-haired coats.
- A Rubber brush will remove dead hair from your dog and massage their skin.
Matting and tangles
Some dogs, like the Poodle, Cocker Spaniel and the Cockerpoo are particularly prone to matting, but any long-haired or thick coat will get tangles. You will feel these lumps of matted hair when you stroke your dog and will probably wonder how they form so quickly. Areas to look out for are under the armpits, behind the ears, where the legs rub together and whichever side your dog sits, due to the fur being compressed in one place.
Brushing or combing out mats and tangles takes some effort and lots of patience, but regular brushing will help stop them forming in the first place. Matted hair can be gently pulled apart with your fingers and then brushed with a slicker brush. If the matted hair is really bad or out of control then definitely visit your local groomer for advice.
How do I clip my dog’s nails? And, is it safe?
Not for the faint-hearted, there is a definite technique to clipping a dog’s nails and getting it wrong can injure your dog. That said, it is not difficult to master, just be sure to go slowly at first. If you take your dog for lots of walks on hard ground, you may not need to use clippers much at all, as the ground will naturally wear the nails down. You will know when to clip because you can hear your dog’s nails clicking on the floor as they walk and this will tell you they need trimming. Otherwise, once a month should be enough.
Clippers come in different sizes for small, medium or large dogs. As with the brush, let your dog inspect the clippers and sniff them before you start.
Trim a small amount from each nail, keeping the angle flat so your dog can walk comfortably. Remember to trim the dew claw as well. Be very careful not to cut into the blood vessel as it will bleed and be painful for your dog. Sometimes you can see the vein in the nail but mostly it’s invisible inside a dark nail, so it’s always best to trim small amounts.
The Crufts Soft Grip Nail Clippers are perfect for first time users with a safety guard feature to prevent over cutting.
Bathing and drying your dog
Make it an enjoyable experience for you both by minimising mistakes, so your dog doesn’t come to dread the experience. You may have to go very slowly if your dog is frightened. Be patient with little treats and lots of praise.
A brush before the bath is a good idea to get rid of any loose hair and then another brush after the bath but only when the coat is completely dry, otherwise it can be painful for them.
Stand your dog in a small amount of lukewarm water, using a jug to wet the entire coat from the neck down. Gently massage in the shampoo and rinse thoroughly, first with the jug and then using a shower head with the same temperature of water. If your dog likes the shower head you can dispense with the jug next time, but the noise of running water can frighten some dogs. Clean their head last with clear water and a soft flannel or sponge. Do not ever pour water over your dog’s head, they do not like it, and it’s not the safest way!
Have lots of dry towels ready, some on the floor and some to wrap around your dog. Gently rub and pat the coat until it is just damp. Your dog will then have a really good shake, or two, before zooming off excitedly. Using your own hairdryer is probably not a good idea as they are usually too hot. Unless it is a nice, warm day, keep your dog inside to dry off completely.
How often should I bathe my dog?
How much time your dog spends outside will determine how often to bathe them. Some dogs will start to smell sooner than others and this is a good indicator that they need a bath. In general, longer haired dogs will need more frequent baths, probably once a month at the most while a shorter haired dog will usually need a bath only once every three or four months. Unless of course, they have rolled in something unpleasant (i.e fox poo)!
What shampoo or conditioner should I use?
Always use a dog shampoo when you bathe your dog. Never use your own even if it’s a baby shampoo, as it can interfere with the pH balance of your dog’s skin. Aim for products which have natural or organic ingredients to minimise the risk of allergies or irritation. There are special shampoos for puppies which are milder and if your dog has problems with fleas, there are shampoos for that too.
Conditioners are not always necessary but they can be used to help with tangles and to give your dog a soft, shiny coat.
We love WildWash’s Pro range of shampoos and conditioners. They are all 100% completely natural. They were originally designed for professional groomers who were so obsessed with them they decided to make them accessible to all dog owners!
Take a look at the range in our shop – click here!
You will have to take our word for it that they smell amazing!