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Why should I groom my dog?

As a responsible dog owner, you want to know you’re looking after your best buddy’s overall health and wellbeing. Dogs of all breeds and coat types require grooming of some description and frequency. Regular grooming at home, and appointments with a professional groomer, are essential for lots of reasons:

  • Strengthens the bond between you both.
  • Lumps and bumps, scratches or rashes, and changes in skin and coat condition can indicate a deeper issue. These can be identified early on.
    Ensures there are no unwanted passengers such as fleas and ticks.
  • Brushing stimulates the production of natural oils which condition the coat naturally and reduce shedding.
  • Gets them used to being touched in those more ticklish areas.
  • Keeps them comfortable and leaves them better able to control their temperature.
  • Keeps them looking beautiful!

As grooming is a necessary part of a dogs’ happy life it is important they don’t see it as a reason to run and hide! Start young and your dog will see it as another source of affection and attention.

What should I be doing at home?

Dogs have different grooming requirements according to coat type, age and health. As a general guide you should:

  • Bath. As often as you feel necessary depending on their lifestyle. You MUST use a shampoo designed for dogs as their skin has a different Ph level to that of humans. Using a human shampoo may well irritate skin and eyes. There are dozens of lovely shampoos available tailored to bring out the best of your dogs’ individual coat type.  

*NEVER wet a matted coat. This will cause the matts to tighten and never fully dry, providing the perfect environment for bacteria and other nasties to thrive.

  • Dry according to coat type. This could be air drying, lying in front of the fire, a good old rub down with a towel, or a gentle blow dry with a hairdryer on a low heat setting.
  • BRUSH!!! For most dogs this is the most essential part of home grooming. Different coat types require different schedules, techniques and tools. Using the incorrect tools and techniques may be ineffective, cause pain and can even damage the coat.
  • Ear check. ears should be checked every day for signs of excess wax, irritation and odour. These symptoms could indicate an infection or mites requiring a visit to the vets. Plucking (where required) is best done little and often and can cause irritation to the ear canal if done incorrectly. Ask your vet to advise.
  • Nail and pad check. As a general guide, nails require trimming every 3 weeks approximately, depending on the amount of exercise they get and the type of ground they are mostly walked on. Beach and field walking will not wear the nails down as much as concrete. The quick (a blood vessel visible in white nails but not in black) can cause short term discomfort and may bleed a little if the nails are taken too short. Although not the end of the world, your dog will most likely remember the negative experience and nail trimming may prove difficult and distressing in the future. Should the nail be touching the floor, causing the toe to bend upwards, it is definitely time for a trip to the salon for a trim! Nails left this way will cause a lot of discomfort and may curl round into the pad. Dew claws do not get worn down in the same manner and will therefore need to be trimmed more regularly. Also, be sure to check between your dogs’ pads for grass seeds, mud and sand as this can cause irritation and sores that easily go unnoticed.
  • Teeth clean. Dental disease is a big issue for dogs, so you should aim to brush your dogs’ teeth at least once a week. Introduction at a young age will pay dividends later. Regular preventative treatment at home is a lot more effective and painless than the alternatives so ask your vet for advice. Bad breath can really ruin those loving licks and kisses!

Puppies

Puppies have a shorter attention span and a fine fluffy coat. To puppies grooming is a game during which brushes, combs and hands endure plenty of bites. It is essential to use soft gentle tools and to tease out knots without pulling on the skin. Short sessions concentrating on different areas each time, with lots of praise and treats to reward desired behaviour is what’s needed. Breeds with woolly/curly coats (such as the Poodles, poodle mixes and Bichon Frisé) are likely to need a professional groom every 6-8 weeks if you would like their coat to be kept relatively long, so it is imperative that they get the correct introduction at the puppy stage.

The better kept your dogs’ coat at home the less frequent, more enjoyable (and cheaper) their visits to the salon will be. 

Professional Grooming

Professional grooming on a regular schedule is a necessity for most dogs, especially those whose coats require trimming or de-shedding. A dog who is never groomed at home or is not introduced to grooming at a young age, may find their time at the salon an unfamiliar, stressful and even frightening experience.  I make every effort to ensure this is not the case, but as an owner you have a big part to play to ensure your pup is happy, confident and comfortable with the grooming process, making for the best experience possible for your dog, the groomer, and you.

Puppy Pamper

A Puppy pamper at the salon should be part of your pups’ socialisation. It lasts approximately 1 hour and focuses on familiarising them to the sights, sounds and sensations in the salon. It involves a bath with a gentle mild puppy shampoo, a gentle blow dry, brush through, ear clean, nail trim, and a face, feet and bottom tidy. These short sessions mean that they will be confident and comfortable with the process when they come for their first adult full groom. 

The Full Works

During a full adult professional groom your dog will be bathed in a professional grade dog shampoo and conditioner, blow dried and brushed through thoroughly using products and tools for their coat type. Ears will be cleaned, nails trimmed, pads cleared and pee-pees tidied. The coat will then be clipped/scissored into the required style. This could be to breed standard or a lower maintenance pet version. In general, the better condition the coat is kept in at home determines how close to breed standard the final look will be. Talk to me for more tailored and specific advice on a suitable style and grooming schedule that suits your lifestyle, your dogs’ lifestyle and your budget.

Bath and Brush

Ideal for longer, higher maintenance coats. Alternated with visits for The Full Works, it gives me the opportunity to remove those niggly knots and tangles that may be beginning to form, or trapped undercoat that, if left may become widespread enough to require the coat to be clipped off.

A professional groom is the ideal opportunity for your dog to be checked from nose to tail, in every crevice, right down to the skin, often discovering things that may go unnoticed at home. Professional groomers have the best equipment to do the job quickly, thoroughly, hygienically, and without getting hair all over your house!

  • Nail and pad check. As a general guide, nails require trimming every 3 weeks approximately, depending on the amount of exercise they get and the type of ground they are mostly walked on. Beach and field walking will not wear the nails down as much as concrete. The quick (a blood vessel visible in white nails but not in black) can cause short term discomfort and may bleed a little if the nails are taken too short. Although not the end of the world, your dog will most likely remember the negative experience and nail trimming may prove difficult and distressing in the future. Should the nail be touching the floor, causing the toe to bend upwards, it is definitely time for a trip to the salon for a trim! Nails left this way will cause a lot of discomfort and may curl round into the pad. Dew claws do not get worn down in the same manner and will therefore need to be trimmed more regularly. Also, be sure to check between your dogs’ pads for grass seeds, mud and sand as this can cause irritation and sores that easily go unnoticed.
  • Teeth clean. Dental disease is a big issue for dogs, so you should aim to brush your dogs’ teeth at least once a week. Introduction at a young age will pay dividends later. Regular preventative treatment at home is a lot more effective and painless than the alternatives so ask your vet for advice. Bad breath can really ruin those loving licks and kisses!

Coat types and brushing

How, and how often you should brush your dog depends on coat type and lifestyle. Even short haired breeds need brushing. A well maintained coat means I can spend more time carefully styling your dogs’ coat and less time battling through matts.

  • Smooth coated breeds such as the Doberman and the Greyhound require a quick once over with a bristle brush or a rubber mitt once or twice a week to remove dead coat and keep them looking glossy.
  • Double coated breeds such as the German Shepherd, sheepdogs, Huskies and even Labradors can shed masses of dead hair. Regular brushing/deshedding (preferably every day) is essential to prevent the loose hair from becoming trapped and ‘felting’ next to the skin. An impacted double coat acts like a straight jacket making your dog uncomfortable and grumpy. Double coats can be ruined by clipping and may never return to normal, and so a coat in this condition will require a long and uncomfortable and expensive visit (sometimes multiple visits) to a professional groomer for your dog to endure.  They need professional grooming AT LEAST twice a year when they ‘blow their coat’, this is with regular maintenance at home. If your dog tends to shed constantly and home brushing is less, visits to the groomer would obviously need to be more frequent. 
  • Woolly coated breeds such as the Bichon Frisé, Poodle and poodle mixes require brushing as often as every day. Provided you are using the correct tools you cannot over-brush. These coat types can vary from loose waves to tight curls. Professional grooming is a necessity, around every 6-8 weeks, as the coat usually requires brushing and drying simultaneously, and clipping to maintain a style.
  • Silky coats such the that of the Afghan, Yorkshire Terrier and the Shih Tzu act much like human hair and tangle easily. Should you want a long flowing show coat, the length needs to be combed through every day. Most owners opt for a lower maintenance pet trim, requiring brushing maybe once or twice a week and. Professional grooming every 8 weeks to maintain a style.
  • Wire coats like the Border Terrier and Fox Terrier will still matt if their coat is not brushed regularly. Their breed standard is a hand-strip, a technique done by a professional groomer twice a year, or whenever the coat is ready. Hand-stripping maintains the natural growth cycle, colour and texture of the coat, but not all dogs are suitable for this method and it is perfectly acceptable to opt for a clipped style instead.

Please feel free to pop into the salon for further advice on the correct tools and techniques for your dog.

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