Why Dog Grooming is Important
Dog grooming is an important part of owning a dog, it helps to keep your dog looking its best. Through grooming, dogs learn to trust and form close bonds with you. Often, with dogs that are taken to rehoming centres, a bath and grooming is the first thing they will do. It can help to calm the dog as it is the first bit of care, love and attention they will have received in a very long time.
A full groom, i.e. wash, dry and trim, doesn’t need to be carried out frequently but a weekly grooming routine is a good habit to form with your dog. The weekly routine helps you to know your dog’s body, find anything unusual and so, deal with it quickly.
The day after we took Barney home from Battersea Dogs Home, we had the usual vet appointment for him to be registered and checked over. Whilst our vet was carrying out her checks, Barney turned to nip her! As I was holding his shoulders, I managed to stop him! So the very next day, I started the following basic grooming routine with lots of treats, to help desensitize him to being handled.
I continue this routine weekly now (minus the washing) with both Sandy and Barney. It has also helped Sandy become calmer, less nervous about being handled as she learns to trust and feel loved.
Dog Grooming Basics to Keep Your Dog Looking Tip Top
Your dog’s coat type will determine how frequently brushing is required. For Barney, a border terrier, with short wiry double-coat, once a week is enough for him. Although I do ‘up it’ when he becomes particularly ‘scruffy’ looking and is nearly ready to be hand-stripped, as it helps with the shedding (yes, border terriers to shed, it’s a myth that they don’t!).
A weekly brush for Sandy, our terrier-cross, is perfect as she doesn’t have a thick, double-coat. Her fur is fine and straight, it doesn’t form knots or tangles. Both Sandy and Barney enjoy being brushed and I find it relaxing too.
Using the right tools for the type of fur your dog has will ensure a healthy coat is maintained. If you have a trusted groomer, ask them which tools are best for your dog’s coat and easy for you to use at home.
Our groomer recommended that we use a Dog Grooming Stone on both Sandy and Barney, we do not use a brush on them at all. A groomer’s stone is a long-lasting tool, which removes shedding hair, dried mud, dander and helps to bring out the shine in the coat. The stone is very gentle and you just pull it down over the coat, you will be amazed at the amount of fur that comes out!
Your groomer will be able to advise you on how frequently you should groom your dog, but as a minimum you should try to keep to the following, but do what feels best for your dog and you:
- Daily brushing for long-haired dogs to prevent matting and tangling of hair.
- At least weekly brushing for medium-haired dogs as their fur may be prone to matting and tangles.
- Once or twice a month for short-haired dogs.
Bath-time is probably not your dog’s most favourite part of grooming, although Barney and Sandy seem to, if not enjoy it, tolerate it without desperately trying to escape!
Actually, we try not to bath them too often as I don’t feel it is good for their skin and coats. They have a regular 6 weekly appointment with our groomer and, unless one of them has rolled in something stinky, (usually Sandy, she’s partial to ‘eau d’fox poo’ and ‘parfum d’goose poo’! ;-)) I don’t bath them in-between their appointment. When I do bath them I use a lovely, mild, gentle, soap-free dog specific shampoo by Dorwest.
We tend to towel dry Barney and Sandy which is then followed by the mad ‘rub yourself all over the furniture‘ dash around the house (hahaha!).
Desensitizing Your Dog to Being Handled
The following steps, are the part of our routine which helps to desensitize dogs to being handled. Before, and after, handling each area I give them a treat, this helps to make the experience less scary and get them used to being touched.
If you are starting this routine for the first time, I would do the following every day, it shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. Once your dog is comfortable with being handled, then once or twice a week is sufficient.
I sometimes trim their nails but usually this is done at their grooming appointment. I am wary about trimming Barney’s nails as they are black, so it is hard to find the quick (Sandy’s nails are pale, so much easier to see the quick) and I don’t want to cut too far up and cause bleeding.
Check ears, inside and outside ~ look for dirt, debris, excess hair and smell inside the ears, as ears can be a haven for bacteria and yeast if not kept clean. However, be very careful when cleaning inside dog’s ears, do not go any further into the ear than you can see, ask your vet or dog groomer how to clean your dog’s ears safely.
Check eyes ~ I gently lift the upper and lower lids, to check the whites of the eyes. I use a damp cotton pad, with some colloidal silver on it, to wipe around the eye area and ‘de-junk’ them.
Check/brush teeth ~ It is recommended that you clean your dog’s teeth every day! You can buy dog toothbrushes and dog toothpaste to do this, I did try brushing Barney’s teeth before we changed to raw feeding, but it wasn’t easy! So it’s a process that will take patience to perfect, because Barney just kept licking the toothpaste off the brush! hahaha!
However, as Barney and Sandy are raw feed and get bones once or twice a week, I don’t clean their teeth at all. Although, I do check them by gently lifting the skin around the mouth, whilst holding their muzzle. I’m looking for plaque on their teeth, pink gums, I’ll also press their gums gently (just to get them used to this) and no smelly breath.
Check their rear end ~ gently hold up their tail and take a look down at their bottom. I am looking for any mess around the area and excess hair, I’ll also give it a clean with a dog wet wipe.
It’s Never Too Late
It’s never too late to start a dog grooming routine, take it slowly and build up the trust between you. Your dog will learn to enjoy it and you will find it a relaxing and rewarding part of owning a dog.
How often do you groom your dog, do you do anything differently? Does your dog enjoy it? Let us know by commenting below, we’d love to hear from you.
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