Although most dogs self-groom regularly, certain breeds and coat types require more maintenance than others. As well as bathing and brushing, dog grooming also includes tooth brushing, cleaning the ears and eyes, and nail trimming. If you’re unsure where to start, James Wellbeloved are here to help you out, with the ultimate dog grooming guide.
There are multiple reasons why you should regularly groom your dog. The most obvious reason is to keep your dog’s skin and coat in top condition. Regular grooming removes dead hair, tangles and knots, as well as anything your dog may have gathered while walking. It also helps to spread the natural oils in their coat, conditioning it and keeping it healthy. You should also use a grooming session as an opportunity to check your dog’s skin for fleas or ticks, unfamiliar bumps, scratches, or anything else out of the ordinary. If you find anything you’re not sure about, take your pup to see the vet. Additionally, some breeds of dog shed more than others, which is where dead hairs fall out of the dog’s coat. Regularly removing this dead hair will avoid build-up and might save the carpets in your house from tufts of unwanted dog hair!
Dogs come in many shapes, sizes and colours – and their breed will affect the kind of coat they have. For example, some breeds of dog have hair rather than fur, such as poodles, which requires regular combing or brushing to prevent it from tangling. Other breeds have very thick, wiry fur, such as terriers. As a general rule, the thicker or heavier your dog’s coat, the more grooming you will have to do to keep it in good condition. The colour of your dog’s coat will also affect how often you may want to groom it. Dogs with white or pale coats will show dirt or mud easily and may need to be bathed more often as a result.
Like with most of a dog’s training and behaviours, grooming is best taught from a young age. If you start grooming your dog when they are a puppy, they will get used to the process and be less likely to misbehave. Grooming is not always a fun activity in a dog’s eyes, so the more they trust you and the more comfortable they are, the easier the experience will be for you both. You can start by brushing your puppy little and often to get them used to the sensation of being groomed. Keeping the initial sessions short is perfect for a puppy’s playful nature/short attention span and means you can gradually build up the duration of the sessions over time. You should also gently touch your puppy’s ears and mouth to get them accustomed to being touched in these sensitive places. This will make it much easier to clean their ears and teeth later on in life. Make sure to give your puppy plenty of praise and some tasty treats at the end to reinforce that grooming is a positive experience.
When it comes to dog grooming, the first thing you’ll need are the right tools for the job. The two main types of grooming you will be doing are brushing and bathing. If you are unsure about the right tools for your dog, ask a vet, a professional groomer, or the breeder where you found your dog for advice. For brushing, you will need a dog brush and a dog comb. Some dog owners like to use a stripping comb to thin the dog’s coat. You can also buy a grooming mitt, these are useful for getting dried dirt and dead hairs out of the coat. For bathing, you will need a non-slip mat, special hypoallergenic dog shampoo and a towel to dry them off afterwards. You can find a full guide on how to bath your dog here. When it comes to grooming, the tools you need and the time you should spend on it will depend on the type of coat your dog has. Some vets will advise grooming your dog daily, especially if they have long, thick, or curly fur. However, breeds with shorter, thinner fur can usually get away with a once-a-week grooming session. To start, use the comb to get any knots, tangles, or dry dirt out of the coat. This will make bathing much easier. Brush from head to tail and take care to be gentle, especially in key areas such as the eyes, the ears, in between the pads of the feet and the tail end. If there are knots in the coat too difficult to untangle, you may need to clip them to remove them, while particularly tricky tangles may need expert attention from a dog groomer. Once all the tangles are out, you can move onto bathing. You should also regularly check and clean your dog’s ears. To do this, gently look inside the ears, which should be a healthy pink with minimal dirt and no signs of irritation, such as redness, odour, swelling or discharge. You can carefully clean a dog’s ears with cotton wool buds and special ear cleaning solution. However, never put a cotton bud or any other object inside your dog’s ears. Some dog owners trim their dog’s fur and nails too. If you decide you want to trim your dog’s coat yourself, make absolutely sure you are confident doing it, and ensure you have the right tools for the job. You will need special grooming clippers or shears, and a safe space to secure your dog while you clip the coat. For nail clipping, you will need special dog nail clippers. Do not clip your dog’s coat or nails if you do not feel confident doing so.
Aside from regular grooming, there are other ways you can help to keep your dog’s coat in top condition. One of the most important ways to do this is through a healthy diet. Dogs need the right amounts of each nutrient to stay in good health, several of which go towards maintaining a healthy, shiny coat. Make sure your dog eats a high quality dog food to keep their coat glossy and their teeth and gums healthy. Another good way to maintain your dog’s coat is to consider what they like to do on their walks. For example, if your dog likes swimming, or grubbing around in thorny bushes, you may want to consider keeping their coat short to avoid it becoming tangled and matted. If you don’t feel confident grooming your dog’s coat yourself, there are plenty of professional dog grooming services, so if you find your dog’s coat is particularly hard to maintain it’s worth having a look for a dog groomer near you.