How to groom your dog
Regular grooming is vital for your dog’s comfort and welfare, as well as being an enjoyable way to build up a strong bond between you and your dog. It will also help ensure your dog is happy and comfortable being handled by others, including your vet.
The importance of grooming your dog
Apart from having the smartest looking dog in town, grooming your dog regularly provides multiple benefits to both you and your dog. Firstly, it enhances the relationship between you and your dog. It keeps the coat healthy with natural oils, mat-free and promotes new hair growth. It also allows you to check your dog for any abnormalities or skin problems that may otherwise be missed. And most importantly, it means less of your dog’s fur on the carpet and your new trousers!
If you detect any irregularities during your dog’s grooming sessions or your professional dog groomer has raised any concerns, please raise this with your vet.
What grooming tools do I need to groom my dog?
There are many grooming aids on the market. However, for most dog breeds a metal comb, bristle brush and finishing cloth will be sufficient to groom a dog. Before using any equipment, make sure it’s all clean and in good working order without broken teeth or rusty areas that could cause damage or pain to your dog.
When to start grooming your dog
Throughout a dog’s lifetime, they will require regular grooming so dog owners should try to introduce a grooming regime at the earliest opportunity, ideally as a puppy.
By slowly familiarising your dog to grooming equipment, this will not only improve their welfare but also make it easier for you and them in the future when they may need to be handled by a vet.
Grooming sessions should be a relaxing and enjoyable experience for your dog. It’s important to ensure that you’re always assessing your dog’s body language for signs they may be uncomfortable or avoiding being touched.
How to groom a dog step by step
When choosing an area to groom your dog, ensure it’s non-slip, dry and stable - a place where you can keep your dog calm and where you will feel comfortable and secure. If grooming a young dog, keep the sessions short and fun so your dog considers it a pleasurable experience and doesn’t get bored.
Before starting the grooming process, we recommend doing some physical checks on your dog to help monitor their health. First, make sure your dog is calm and willing to take part.
- Wash your hands and start by checking their eyes. If there is any discharge around the eye, you can clean it with a damp piece of cotton wool, wiping from the corner of the eye outwards. Speak to your vet if you notice any changes, abnormalities, or foreign objects.
- Check your dog’s ears for any signs of inflammation, irritation, discharge, or other problems. Dogs with floppy ears and those who love swimming can be more prone to ear infections and may need their ears cleaned regularly. Never be tempted to put a cotton bud into their ear and only clean your dog’s ears with cleaning products made specifically for dogs.
- Work your way around the rest of their body, including their paws, checking for changes such as new lumps and bumps, including ticks.
- It’s also important to keep an eye on your dog’s dental health and clean your dog’s teeth regularly.
Our grooming tips and sequence for how to groom your dog at home is as follows:
- Firstly, always remember to wash your hands before and after grooming your dog.
- Massage your dog by running your fingers through your dog’s coat against the lay of the coat, all over the body avoiding the face and tail. This helps you to access the undercoat to loosen dead hair and dirt, stimulate hair follicles to promote the growth of a healthy coat, stimulate the skin, and keep muscles supple.
- Take a bristle brush and again brush against the lay of the coat avoiding the face and tail. Ensure you read and respond to your dog's body language with this step - if your dog seems uncomfortable, stop and move onto the next stage.
- Using a comb next, this time comb with the lay of the coat, once again avoiding the face. Be careful not to apply too much pressure around your dog’s ears, abdomen and legs, as they are sensitive areas. Take extra care with longhaired dog breeds when you are working on the tail to remove knots and tangles.
- Then using the bristle brush again, brush with the lay of the coat, all over the body. This will remove any remaining loose hair and dust.
- To finish, gently wipe your dog over with a damp cloth, avoiding the face and continuing over the rest of your dog’s body. This removes the final bits of loose hair and gives the coat a shine.
- It’s important to give your dog plenty of verbal and physical praise throughout the grooming session.
- Remember to clean your equipment, removing any dog hair and residue. You should also wash your equipment regularly with a suitable pet-safe disinfectant. Please ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the disinfectant to avoid any potential reaction.
Bathing your dog
Here are a few tips for your dog’s bath time:
- Dogs do not need bathing routinely unless it has been advised by a veterinary surgeon, as bathing on a regular basis can cause the coat to dry out and remove natural oils.
- Only ever use a dog shampoo that is designed specifically for dogs as dog’s skin has a different pH balance to human skin.
- Before bathing ensure everything is ready and at hand. If possible, it’s safer that there are two people able to bathe your dog in order to lift them in and out of the bath and help keep your dog happy and relaxed. Your dog may love wallowing in dirty ditch water but being bathed in clean warm water is a different matter!
- Always test the water temperature beforehand. Bring your dog to the bath - a shower spray makes bathing easier and rinsing faster and more thorough. Place a non-slip mat on the floor of the bath and remove any bottles or additional items from around the bath area to avoid them being knocked or broken. Make sure you have checked the dog shampoo and conditioner instructions and wear gloves and other protective clothing, if advised. Always dilute the shampoo as per instructions before applying it to your dog’s coat – this will ensure it is applied evenly over your dog and is diluted correctly.
- Keeping your dog calm wet his coat thoroughly. Then, avoiding your dog’s eyes and ears, apply the shampoo and work into a lather. Leave the shampoo on your dog’s coat for the required length of time stated in the instructions before rinsing thoroughly. Squeeze your dog’s coat gently to eliminate the excess water before towel drying. It’s important to keep your dog in a warm, draught-free environment until they are dry. Meanwhile, you can go and clean up the bathroom!
Remember, your dog's idea of a sweet smell probably isn’t the same as yours, so keep an eye on your dog when you take them out for some off-lead exercise after a bath!
For more grooming tips and advice on keeping your dog happy and healthy, sign up to Good Dog!; our pet dog training and welfare subscription.
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