Whether you groom your dog yourself or get the professionals to do it is a personal choice. Either way, proper grooming is an important part of being a responsible pet owner. The frequency of grooming depends on the breed’s coat requirements – while dogs like Poodles have to be groomed often, other dogs like Labrador Retrievers need less grooming.
Here are a few guidelines for pet owners who want to do it themselves.
1. Regular brushing required
Brush your dog’s coat regularly to get rid of all dead and moulted hair. Loose hair causes knots, which can be very painful to brush out. This can be prevented with regular brushing. If you do find knots in your dog’s fur, it might be kinder to cut them out rather than to try brush them out.
2. Brush before bathing
Besides regular brushing, pets with soft hair, like Poodles, Maltese, Pomeranians and Yorkshire Terriers, must be completely brushed out before bathing. If you bath a matted dog, the mats get worse and will then need to be shaved off. Shaving off the mats can be painful to the animal and borders on animal abuse.
3. Quality shampoo and conditioner
Always use a good-quality shampoo and conditioner specifically made for dogs. Wash your dog with the shampoo in warm water, then rinse the coat. The next step is to condition his coat, and again rinse well. Towel-dry your dog to get rid of most of the water. Use a warm – not hot – blow-dryer, if your dog will allow, to dry his fur.
4. Final touches
Comb the hair and then use scissors to cut off excess hair on the legs and around the feet, and to get the top knot tidy, if your breed wears one.
5. Winter bath
Just because it is winter and cold outside, it doesn’t allow you to skimp on your dog’s grooming routine. Bathing and grooming in winter is fine, as long as you use warm water and blow-dry his hair with a blow-dryer at the warmest time of the day and in a warm room. If your dog is scared of the blow-dryer, don’t force him. Rather towel-dry him as best you can and keep him inside in a warm room until dry.
6. Start early
Always start grooming puppies at around eight weeks of age. The earlier you start grooming your dog, the better behaved he will be, as he will get used to the sound of the blow-dryer and clippers from an early age. He will also become accustomed to you brushing his teeth and clipping his nails – ask a professional groomer or vet to show you how.
7. Tick and flea treatments
Always check for ticks and fleas, especially in summer, and use a treatment shampoo, if needed, together with other parasite programmes to keep your dog free of these nasties.
8. Professional groomer
If all of the above sounds like too much trouble, rather consult a professional groomer, as they know what they are doing. Always ensure that you use a reputable groomer and ask for references before you take your dog to the groomer for the first time.