If you are like us, your dogs are part of your family. Whether they live outside, inside, or both regularly grooming your dog adds value to your life and theirs.
Define Regular Grooming
Defining regular and grooming probably depends on your breed of dog. We have a Golden Retriever and a Dakota Sport Retriever. We introduced them in Happy Pets in Extreme Temperatures.
They spend a fair amount of their day out in the great adventure of our 1 acre lot. Tangled hair and matted fringe are a real issue if we don’t brush weekly. Our definition of regular is weekly and our definition of grooming is brushing.
Make Grooming an Enjoyable Experience
Brushing needs to be a pleasant experience for both you and your dog. Try to relax and don’t fight with your dog. Enjoy the feel of her fur as you brush. Keep speaking in low even tones. Use the voice you use when you are praising your dog, not your frustrated or playful voice.
From your dog’s point of view, the first few grooming sessions might be confusing. We start with Libby and I sitting facing each other and I brush her chest. Next, I brush under and next to her ears and collar. As I move across her shoulders and her back, she usually lays down and relaxes.
It hasn’t always gone this way. Sometimes she’s wiggly or plays with the brush. She used to leap up and run away when I got to tangled spots in her fur.
The Length of the Grooming Session
We stop our brushing when Libby is ready. Sometimes there are too many distractions (we usually choose Sunday mornings before anyone else is up). If Libby has too many tangles, she will leap up and take off because she is sure the brush will pull her hair. When I need to convince her to stay longer, I enlist some help. They scratch behind her ears and talk softly while I focus elsewhere.
Sometimes Libby just enjoys the whole process and we relax together until we have to move on. Grooming each other is one of the things animal family members do for each other. In other words, brushing is bonding time.
We never brush our dogs when they are wet! That hurts and is NOT the pleasant experience we are looking for. Even at bath time when we know there will be a lot of loose hair that needs to be removed, we brush them dry, bathe them, and brush them again when they are thoroughly dry again.
Its Not Just about Appearance
While I’m grooming, I’m looking for skin irritations, fleas or ticks, or other issues that might need attention. I check her foot pads for tenderness or cracks. In the winter, checking her pads is especially important, her skin dries out too.
We have found an animal conditioner and detangler that we like. It helps make brushing easier but doesn’t irritate our dogs’ skin. An added benefit is that we all (dogs included) like the smell.
Because of all the hair our dogs have, we use 3 separate brushes in our grooming sessions. A rake works like a comb works on human hair. It detangles and helps us find the matted hair. The rake also helps remove the leaves, twigs, and weeds that show up in our outside-loving, critter-chasing, long-haired family members.
We use a slicker brush on Donnie more often than on Libby. Because of his breed, he will always have “puppy hair”. It is soft and curly but it doesn’t just comb out with the rake. The slicker brush works great for gathering out his shedding undercoat. By the way, the slicker brush is easily cleaned out using the rake, which is another reason I keep them both handy at the same time.
The overall brush works well if we actually get to the end of a grooming session and are allowed to brush everything one more time. It helps with distributing the natural oils in our dogs’ skin and makes their fur shine!
Regularly Grooming Your Dog
If your dog has less hair than ours, your grooming tools would be different. The reasons for regularly grooming your dog are just as valuable though.
Choose an uninterrupted time to groom your dog and stick to it! Your dog is part of your family, why not show her she is part of yours?