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Grooming

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General Grooming of Dogs

Grooming plays a very important part in caring for your dog. The grooming requirements vary from breed to breed, some requiring daily brushing and combing, others less often. Some dogs may also need professional grooming, this can be as often as every six weeks, or as little as twice a year.

You should get your puppy accustomed to being groomed from a very early age. Make it a fun thing at first, a bit of a game, and only for a short period of time. Gradually build up the amount of time you spend grooming your puppy until it is quite happy to stand for you to brush it. Eventually the puppy will enjoy being groomed and may even get quite excited when you produce its brush and comb from the cupboard. If you approach grooming as a chore then so will your dog. It may even put up a bit of resistance resulting in grooming becoming a task you put off.

When, as a puppy, your dog is used to being handled it makes it easier for the veterinary surgeon to carry out an examination. Your dog will know what to expect and there will be no nasty surprises. It also makes any visits to the surgery less stressful for both you and your dog. When you are grooming your dog it is also an ideal time to check it over for any lumps and bumps. You can also check the skin, by parting the hair, to see if your dog has any ticks, fleas or any red, sore or inflamed areas that may require treatment. Also remember to check the dog's eyes, ears, mouth, nose, feet and nails.

A dog's coat can be one of five types; long, non-shedding, silky, wiry or smooth. There are also a few that don't fit into any of the above, these are the hairless breeds and the breeds which have coats that are twisted into cords.

Long coats need a lot of attention, grooming on a daily basis. Dogs with this type of coat are German Shepherds, Old English Sheepdogs, Newfoundlands and Golden Retrievers.

Non-shedding coats means just that, dogs with these types of coats do not moult. They do however need to be clipped on a regular basis, as much as every two months. These types of dogs also need to have their ears plucked, that is any excess hair removed. If they are groomed professionally this will be done for you. Some examples of non-shedding dogs are Poodles, Bichons Frises and Bedlington Terriers.

Silky coats need a lot of care. The dead hair has to be removed or the dog will become very matted and uncomfortable. Some trimming is also required especially spaniels ears and feet. Other examples of silky haired dogs are Afghans, Yorkshire Terriers, Spaniels, Setters and Pekes.

Dogs with wiry coats, like the Wire haired Dachshund, the Schnauzers and most of the terrier breeds, need to be hand stripped, usually twice a year, or clipped regularly. Professional help will be needed for both these methods. Many breeders, of these dogs, will happily give advice on hand stripping your dog. It can be very time consuming, as much as five hours, so your dog will really have to be trained from an early age. On a regular basis these dogs should have their coats combed to prevent matting.

The smooth coated dogs have the easiest coats to groom. A grooming mitt is all you really need, maybe a comb for the Labradors. Boxers, Dobermans, Greyhounds and Whippets are all smooth coated dogs.

Before you actually start using a brush or comb on your dog, use your hands, this loosens the dead hairs, by going through the coat in the opposite way to the hair growth. Just like a massage. The dog with positively love this and it will stimulate the natural oils in the skin that help to give a nice, healthy shine to the coat. After doing this then you can use the grooming equipment best suited for your dogs' coat type. If the coat is matted you may need to use scissors. Always make sure to keep the point of the scissors away from the dog. If the dog jumps you will not stab the scissors into the dog.

Some amount of trimming may be necessary, this will depend on the type of coat. There are dogs which have hair growing over their eyes. This need to be attended to so the dog can see. You could tie the hair up in a topknot, do not use a rubber band, or you could trim the hair away. Dogs that have a lot of hair around the muzzle may get matted with food. These breeds should have their muzzles combed daily. Check the lip folds, small pockets of skin along the lip, for food debris. These folds can become infected if left with decaying food in them. Not all dogs have these lip folds, the spaniel is one breed that seems to have problems in this area. You must also check your dogs feet. The hair between the toes and pads can become matted and collect all sorts of debris, for example, small stones, chewing gum and twigs. Obviously these must be removed as your dog will be very uncomfortable and reluctant to go for daily walks.

A dog should be groomed before you bath it. Grooming first removes any unwanted hair and matts which stop the shampoo from getting through the coat. Also if you wet hair with knots it only gets worse and can be quite sore for the dog. Knotted hair twists and becomes more knotted, pinching the skin as it does so.

Bathing should not be done too often as this removes the natural oils from the skin. If you use shampoos not suitable for dogs then you may damage the coat and skin. The oils that are in the coat are there for a reason, to help in  waterproofing and insulation. If you take your dog to a groomer it will be bathed there anyway, so there will be no need for you to bath the dog at home. It might be worth checking on the shampoo that they use, or even taking your own along.

If you are bathing your dog in your own bath make sure you put a non-slip mat on the bottom. Not only does this stop your dog from slipping and sliding, it also protects your bath from being scratched. If your dog is wearing a leather collar remove it before bathing, replace it with a nylon type one if you can. Remember to use shampoo that is suitable for your dog's skin. Do not use household soaps and cleaning liquids, use a special dog shampoo. These dog shampoos also lather less and make it easier to rinse from the coat. This is a godsend if your dog doesn't like standing in the bath for too long.

The water for bathing your dog in should be lukewarm. Make sure you wet the coat thoroughly before adding the shampoo. Some dogs are quite hard to soak because of the type of hair they have. When wetting the coat you can help to steady the dog by gently putting your hand under the chin. Talk to the dog to reassure it, it helps to keep everyone calm. Start shampooing at the top and work down. Firstly along the back and neck area then the tail and bottom next the legs and feet. Lastly wash the head area, most dog shampoos don't cause much irritation if they get into the eyes, but do try to avoid doing this if possible.

The dog may want to shake itself while it is being bathed, if you notice that this is about to happen then place your hand on the back of its neck, the scruff, if necessary gently lift the scruff. This action should be enough to stop the shake from occurring. Once you are sure that you have washed the dog all over then it is time to rinse. Again top to bottom. Start with the head, tilt it up slightly, and work backwards. Repeat the rinsing process until you are sure that all the shampoo has been washed from the coat. Using your hands to gently squeeze the coat to get rid of the excess water. If you do not do this the dog will come out of the bath and shake, soaking everything in its path. When doing this pay particular attention to the parts that have more hair, ears, legs and tail. The next step is to dry the dog. Some dogs will tolerate a hairdryer, others will have to be towel dried.

If you decide to try using a hair dryer then let the dog see what you are doing, switch it on and let it become accustomed to the noise before you try to dry the dog. Remember the hairdryer should be set at a low heat and move it around, do not concentrate on one place for too long at a time. After drying one last groom will finish off the whole process of grooming and bathing your dog.

If this all sounds like a lot of hard work there are professional groomers that you can take your dog to, some groomers are mobile, they will come to you. This may be a good idea as you can stay with your dog and see how it is done. If you don't need a lot of equipment, such as electric clippers, various shapes and sizes of scissors, you may even be able to do it for yourself when grooming time comes around again.

Visit the Petplanet.co.uk online shop to see our full range of dog grooming products. Including combs, brushes, shampoos, conditioners, creams and lotions, clippers and trimmers, flea treatments and conditioning supplements.

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