Grooming your dog is an essential part of your dog’s maintenance but dogs can have a huge variety of coats from silky, rough and wiry to short and long haired so finding the right technique and frequency of session to suit your individual dog may take a bit of practice. In addition not all dogs are patient enough to stand quietly as you work on their coat so introducing regular short grooming sessions may be the best way to start at home. A recent survey by Mikki of over 200 dogs found that grooming improves the bond between owner and dog so it is worth trying to find the time to groom your dog rather than relying completely on a professional service. There can also be many other benefits to regular grooming:
- Reduces shedding. Brushing out the excess hairs should mean the shedding process is quicker and more ends up in the brush or comb than over your furniture.
- Therapeutic. Most dogs love to be stroked so a gentle grooming session is something they can enjoy, so long as you keep them in a comfortable position and praise them for being good.
- Removes debris and tangles. A tangled or muddy coat can irritate your dog and lead to scratching and inflammation so removing excess skin debris, working through tangles regularly and aerating the coat can make your dog more comfortable and stop any itch-scratch cycles before they start.
- Keeps him looking their best. Your dog will take confidence in how you perceive him and introduce to him to friends or other dogs.
- Better coat condition. Keeping him well-groomed also makes him softer to stroke and can reduce oily residues in his coat.
- A health check. A regular grooming session is also a chance to check over your dog and make sure he’s healthy. Look for signs of ticks, wounds, dirty ears and eyes as well as assessing your dog’s body condition.
For effective grooming, the right tools are essential. Most professionals will use a range of equipment to trim, clip, rake, detangle, brush, comb through, stimulate the skin and remove debris. For some dogs regular professional grooming sessions are essential but alongside this you can still help to maintain your dog’s coat between sessions with regular brushing and dematting. As a basic guide most home grooming kits will include the following: comb, brush, scissors, detangling spray, ear and eye wipes, grooming rug or mat.
Brushes: The main types of brushes to choose from are slicker brushes, bristle brushes and wire pin brushes. Bristle brushes can be used on most types of coats whilst medium to long coats and curly coats benefit from wire pin brushes. Following with a slicker brush will smooth down the coat after the grooming session.
Rakes and combs: Rakes can be a great tool for double coated dogs as they are designed to penetrate through the overcoat and remove debris and loose hairs from the under coat. They can also help with detangling knots and matted sections. Combs will also work on small specific areas to gently tease out matts and tangles and around sensitive areas like ears and the mouth. It’s important to get the right teeth length for the comb, to make sure it’s effective in the right area and for the right size of dog.
Shedding tools: Grooming gloves for soft coats or de-shedders for coarser or longer haired dogs are the ultimate tools for dogs that shed. These will gently remove the dead hairs from the undercoat and leave behind the healthy growing overcoat. In a couple of short sessions, there can be a huge improvement in shedding and the general appearance of the coat.
Detangling sprays and coat conditioners: Detangling sprays are best applied early in the process where they can help to soften any matted hair before trying to rake or comb through. Finishing a grooming session with a coat and skin conditioning spray will often increase the depth of coat shine and provide nutrients directly to his skin. Your dog may object to over spraying though as these are fragranced sprays so try just lightly misting his coat and brushing through a final time.