Grooming benefits the dog in a variety ways. Firstly it distributes protective oils throughout the coat, keeping the skin clean and healthy. It also stops the fur from getting matted which is particularly important in the long haired breeds.  It also prevents the build up of dirt and dead hair in the coat. If grooming is started early, dogs get used to being handled and this also makes any veterinary examinations much easier. There is also evidence that grooming sessions reduce stress, and blood pressure, for both dog and owner!

Different types of coats need different grooming techniques, so it is important to know how to deal with different lengths of hair.

Coat types

There are many different types of coat in dogs, all having their different requirement for grooming and care

Example:

Long haired
These breeds include the Afghan Hound, Yorkshire Terriers and Red Setters
Long haired dogs are sometimes fashionable, but there can be many problems associated with such breeds. Ticks and fleas are more common and they can be difficult to both detect and remove due to the long fur.  Long hair can also hide unhealthy skin conditions, and they can develop to a more serious stage before they are noticed. They require more grooming, maintenance and care than short haired dogs. Matted hair around the anus can prevent the dog from defecating properly. This is extremely serious and can require veterinary care. Often long haired breeds are predisposed to poor circulation around the ear canal. A more moist environment around the ear can increase the chances of bugs breeding and causing canker or infection in the ear.  It is important to check the dogs coat regularly and establish a grooming routine to prevent matting and also to get the dog used to being groomed. 

Techniques

Brushing
The frequency at which you brush a dog will generally depend on their hair length.  Longer-haired dogs require brushing each day to prevent matting and tangling. Medium-haired dogs should be brushed at least once a week to avoid matting and short-haired dogs can be brushed once a month. The amount of brushing should be increased in tick prone areas especially during tick breeding season. This period can extend from spring to late Autumn.

There are various ways that you can brush dogs. One effective method of brushing long-haired dogs is called line brushing. This involves dividing the fur into small sections and working on one section at a time. This ensures the entire area is brushed and is especially important when looking for fleas and ticks.

When brushing out mats in a dog’s fur, it makes the experience less painful if you can use a detangler solution and then slowly work to detangle the fur.  It is important to hold the hair to stop it from being pulled out during brushing.  Mat rakes are also available if this method does not work.

Bathing
Most veterinary skin specialists recommend that less is more when it comes to bathing dogs.  Some suggest that you should not wash your dog more than monthly as it removes natural oils from the skin.  Firstly you need to choose a location, for a dog owner, you may choose to put a small dog in a tub or sink. If washing a larger dog outside remember to use warm water.  Some supplies you may need for bathing include:

• Soft absorbent towels such as beach towels for larger dogs.
• Dog shampoo (soap-free). Try to use products that contain natural ingredients
• Brushes and combs (see section on grooming tools)
• Rubber tool with small nubs (optional) this can help to massage the skin while washing
• Bath mat (if washing inside) to prevent dog from slipping

Before bathing, brush or comb the dog’s fur. This loosens dirt and foreign matter, removes shed hair and stimulates the skin, allowing natural oils to circulate. When bathing, the water should be at a tepid temperature. Firstly soak the fur with warm water.  You might need to keep a hand on the dog’s head to prevent shaking.

Start at the dogs’ tail and work towards the head wetting the fur before lathering. Apply small amounts of shampoo at a time to avoid excessive shampooing. Some groomers recommend putting cotton in the dog’s ears when washing to avoid water getting in.  It is also important to avoid getting soap suds in the dog’s eyes or on the genitals.  Once you have finished lathering rinse the dog’s coat with warm water, again avoiding the eyes and ears. Rinse thoroughly to ensure all shampoo residue is removed. Remember to rinse the feet and any skin folds or crevices.

After a bath the dog will most likely want to have a good shake.  Allow the dog to do this then towel-dry any excess water from the dog’s coat.
 
 
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