When you have a dog with even a reasonably long and shaggy coat, you have to groom their fur. Even dogs with relatively short coats like labradors should be groomed regularly. Without doing so their, and all other dogs with thick fur, coats are likely to become matted and knotted which in time can go on to cause skin infections that can develop into even worse.
Follow our guide on what not to do when grooming your dog. You will find it invaluable as to how helpful it is whether you groom your dog yourself or you take him or her to a professional and you want to ensure that the professional knows what they are doing.
5 Grooming Mistakes Dog Owners Make
One of the biggest mistakes we all make when going to groom your dog is we try to go through the whole process of grooming (washing their coats in the dog bathtub, brushing their hair, using drying towels on them, using a blow dryer on their coats, using dog nail grinders on their claws) without giving them any training first.
Whilst unintentional, this is quite unfair of us as it requires them to go from zero to sixty with little understanding of what is happening or what is going to happen either. Additionally, when they don’t behave as we want them to immediately during grooming, we tend to get annoyed due to the messy nature of the task – making the whole experience a negative one for all involved! This means that when the next grooming session comes for your dog, they will be nervous and loathe it from the outset. This will, unfortunately, manifest itself in unruly behavior.
Instead, try the little and often approach when trying to get your dog used to grooming. Start gently and slowly build up to the entire routine has broken it down into manageable-sized chunks first. This often means going back to basics so just get your dog, especially if they are a puppy or newly adopted rescue dog, used to you touching and handling his or her paws, ears and face.
As this is another aspect of their training, remember that positive reinforcement is the best way forward in that department. So praise your dog every time he or she achieves something that you wanted him or her to do. Remember as well to be patient and never angry. Stay the calm and reassuring, loving presence in their life.
Finally, remember that if you stop these grooming training sessions as soon as your dog misbehaves, he or she will soon learn that behaving badly is the sure fire way of stopping having their fur brushed or their coat washed. So remember to stay strong! Grooming your dog can eventually be a stress-free activity, it may just take some patience to get there first.
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Never brushing your dog can make grooming an even bigger event than it needs to be as it can prevent matting which is ultimately the most frustrating thing to get rid of – for both you and your dog. It takes time for you to ease out any knots and it can be a big aggravation or even painful for them when you try to tease them out.
Regular brushing will prevent this, especially when it is done at crucial times. Therefore, always brush your dog’s coat out when it is wet – either after a swim or bath. Even brushing them down after a walk in the rain will help stop any tangles gradually getting worse and turning into huge matted areas that almost seem to breed at times.
If, when you are bathing or showering your pooch you discover a matted area, this is a time to try using some doggy conditioner to tease it out as slowly as possible to prevent any further discomfort for your pooch. Drying your dog properly after a shower or bath is also imperative as it stops any further tangles. A doggy blow dry will help blow out any tangles too so it is doubly helpful to do if you can. You can buy equipment for your home but a professional dog groomer will use a fur hair dryer too. Dog drying towels are also excellent for helping get rid of excess moisture in your dog’s coat.
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Forgetting Body Parts
We are all guilty of only paying attention to one body part on our dogs when we groom them. And nine times out of ten we will focus on their back alone.
This is a bit of a disservice to your dog and makes your dog grooming regime a little bit of a waste of time. To prevent matting, especially on dogs with the shaggiest of coats like a Newfoundland for example, owners also need to concentrate on the underside and belly as well as the tail, ears, under the jaw and anywhere that fur grows longer than half a centimetre.
Their coats are not the only thing that need attention however. When you’re grooming your dog, it’s the perfect opportunity to check their teeth and gums for any gum disease or unhealthy teeth. It’s also an ideal time to check inside their ears for any problems or detect any pain they may be in. If you suspect that their gums are infected, (they will look red and inflamed) or that they have a big buildup of wax in their ears, it is a good time to book an appointment at the vets for a teeth and ear clean.
Grooming is also a time to have a good inspection of your dog’s paws – both the underside and also the claws themselves. If their claws are too long, use a nail grinder to get them down to a healthy length. Check the underside of their paws are healthy, especially in Summer months when paws are susceptible to getting burnt from walking on hot pavements and sidewalks.
Not Giving Praise Where It’s Due
Grooming is an unnatural activity for dogs so if they’re behaving well, or at the very least tolerating your grooming attention on him or her, remember to praise him or her in the same way if they had listened to your commands for sitting or heeling.
In this way, you are, again positively reinforcing excellent behaviour and thus will make any future grooming sessions easier as your dog will know that when he or she behaves and does as you ask, good things happen as a result.
Praise can take all manner of different forms from the obvious foodie treat to a favorite dog toy or even a simple tickle in their favorite place. This is where patience and understanding will ultimately pay off for both you and your pet. Remember that grooming with a proper dog brush in a dog bath tub followed by a dog hair dry, is completely alien to any pooch and credit should be given if they remain even remotely calm in any part of it.
Not Grooming in The Winter
This is a crucial point to remember if you want to keep grooming effective as well as a stress free activity. Dogs need just as much as grooming in Winter as they do in the Summer. It is a common misconception that as dogs need their coats to keep warmer in Winter, that by not grooming them, owners are helping to stay warm.
This, unfortunately, is not the case. In fact, by not grooming a dog, owners are actually making things worse for their dogs and the dogs’ ability to insulate themselves with a well maintained coat. This is due to the fact that grooming prevents fur from matting. When matting gets very bad and severe, there is sometimes only one solution and that is to get the dog hair clippers out set onto a close shave. This obviously has the result of your dog having much less fur than if he or she was simply brushed and given a shampoo regularly (amongst other grooming rituals like nail grinding with nail grinders).
In short, regular coat maintenance throughout even the coldest of winters means that your darling pooch won’t be bald come the start of spring having had to use those hair clippers one too many times.
Dog grooming should not, therefore, be an onerous task that both you and your pup grow to hate. In fact, when this happens it only makes matters worse as you are both less likely to groom your dog in the first place, but also by not grooming him or her you will be making matters worse further down the line.
Just remember – a little bit of patience goes a long long way with our dogs. It is easy to forget this during grooming sessions but ultimately it is the best tool you will have in your dog grooming kit.
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