Imagine a life where your dog loves being groomed. When you pull out the brush or nail trimmers, your dog comes running—just as if you opened a new bag of treats. How would that make you feel?
It is never too late to train your pet to love being brushed. With a little time and patience, you and your puppy, adult, or senior dog can look forward to sharing relaxing grooming time.
Be sure of your strategy: ATTITUDE, TIME, REWARD
Attitude - All grooming interactions should be positive experiences for both the groomer and the one being groomed. Any time you are thinking that training for a good grooming experience is a chore is not a good time to practice. Wait until you are in the right frame of mind so that the training time is positive for both you and your dog.
Time - Short training sessions are always the most productive. If you notice your dog is reluctant to participate, then you are probably going faster than the dog would like. Slow down and use a higher-value treat or reward to make the time more comfortable for your dog. There is no rule that says you have to trim every toenail every session.
Reward - Train (and practice) in small steps that emphasize fun and rewards. When you start to train a new behavior, use your dogs’ favorite treats. However, once your dog understands what you’re asking him to do; you can start to decrease the value of the treat.
- You can brush short-haired dogs with simple tools like curry brushes or gloves.
- Comb and Brush medium- to long-coated dogs with more specialized tools like a steel comb, slicker, a pin brush, or an undercoat rake.
- Whatever you use, it must remove loose hair and distribute oils from the skin throughout the coat. Proper grooming requires the right brush for your dog’s coat. The following is a list of common dog brushes and their use.
Bristle Brush: These come in a wide variety of styles and can be used on any type of coat. Longer, widely-spaced bristles are better for dogs with longer coats, while shorter, tightly-packed bristles are made for short-haired dogs.
Wire Pin Brush: These dog brushes work well on dogs with medium to long hair or those with curly coats.
Slicker Brush: A slicker brush is used to take out mats and tangles and to smooth your dog’s coat after using a bristle or wire pin brush.
Undercoat Rake: Undercoat rakes work well on many coat types including double coated breeds, heavy coats, and rustic coat types. They work exceptionally well on any breed that is hand-stripped like many of the Sporting or Terrier breeds.
Regular Comb: Useful for combing out hair after detangling or to create that final, feathered look in long-haired dogs.
Flea comb: used to remove fleas and flea eggs (only use a flea comb when your pet's coat is dry. First go through the fur with a regular pet brush or comb that has more widely-spaced teeth to get rid of tangles. Prepare a bucket with hot water and dish soap mixed together to dip the flea comb after each time you comb.)
- Angle the teeth of the brush in the same direction as your pet's coat. In other words, go from head to tail.
- Use gentle, long strokes, stopping to remove hair from the teeth as needed.
- Use the brush evenly, being especially gentle around sensitive areas such as the ears, stomach, legs and genital areas.
- Praise your dog as you're brushing him. Reward calm, quiet behavior to encourage more of it. You may want to include a treat now and then to reward the dog for good behavior.
- Cut out mats that can't be brushed out. Severe matting can pull the skin every time the dog moves, making daily life painful for your pet. If you can't brush a mat out, you need to either cut or shave it off, depending on how close it is to the skin.
- Set up in a place that will be easy for you to sweep or vacuum the floor.
- Remove hair from the brush frequently. Keeping the teeth clear is the key to removing as much hair as possible.
- When you’re done, clean the brush with mild soap and warm water as needed.
Ideally, you’ll want to brush your dog every day to start. For a puppy especially, this will get him used to being groomed so you can avoid brushing-related behavior problems in the future.
How often you brush your dog after he’s used to it will depend on the length of his coat. You can stick with once a day, but most short-haired dogs only need to be brushed once a week. Dogs with thick coats will need to be brushed two or three times a week, more often during the beginning of spring and fall when shedding is the worst. Dogs with long hair will likely require daily grooming to avoid tangles or mats.
Brushing before a bath helps the shampoo get into the coat, and works out mats before they get set in by the water.
Plan to spend a good amount of time brushing your dog or cat. Especially for the long-haired breeds, this takes anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour. If you have to get dinner on the table in half an hour, it’s not a good time to brush. By rushing it, you miss catching a lot of hair and may brush too hard.
You should trim your dog’s nails whenever they are long. If they keep getting snagged or “click” on the floor as your dog walks, you know it’s time to get the clippers. Long unkempt nails can become ingrown or cause serious infections. Clip the dewclaw nail just inside the leg as well.
- To trim your pet’s nails, place his paw in your hand and hold each toe with your index finger and your thumb. Do not squeeze the toe, but hold it firmly.
- Hold the nail Clipper / Grinder with the other hand. This position will give you more precision and prevent you from cutting the nails too short.
- Try cutting the dog’s nail at a minor angle, taking small snips as you go. If you cut back the nails too far and accidentally clip the quick (this is the pink part just under the nail), it can cause bleeding and a lot of discomfort for your dog, resulting in a dog that dislikes grooming time in the future. Be careful with dark nails as the quick is difficult to see. A good tip is to trim the nail when wet as its softer then. Better still; consider using a dog nail grinder instead.
The ideal time to start brushing a dog’s teeth is when it is a puppy. You can start as early as eight weeks of age. Starting young can help a dog become accustomed to the feel of the brush and the act of brushing. Brushing your dog's teeth every day is ideal. It will help to prevent periodontal disease that can lead to pain and dangerous infections.
There are a wide variety of toothbrushes to choose from that are designed for dogs. Dog brushes have softer bristles and are designed to give you easier access to those hard to reach areas.
Choose a brush based on the size of your dog. You can use a bigger toothbrush for bigger dogs, but smaller dogs will need a brush that will easily fit into its mouth. There are also finger brushes that fit onto the end of your finger and can provide better precision.
Do not use an adult human toothbrush to brush your dog's teeth. You can use a soft child’s toothbrush if necessary.
Get your dog comfortable with your hand in its mouth.
- When first starting to brush your dog's teeth, get the animal used to your hands in and around its mouth. Frequently touch around the dog's mouth and muzzle with your fingers.
- Next, show the toothbrush to your dog and let it inspect the brush before putting it in its mouth. this will help the dog become accustomed to the brush. • Gently lift the upper lip and place the toothbrush onto the teeth. Then, slowly brush back and forth.
- Increase the number of teeth you brush each time until the dog is comfortable having all of them brushed.
- Limit the brushing sessions to just a few minutes each. It may take a few sessions to get your dog used to the process.