I’m going to talk about grooming your dog at home between visits to the salon and lay down the advice I give in the salon to our clients.
Grooming at the salon and home is a vital part of a dog’s wellbeing. It really helps with bonding, keeping the coat in tip-top condition and to spot if your dog has picked up an injury or developed an illness. There is a great saying ‘A well-groomed dog is a happy dog!’ and from what I see in the salon it is quite true.
Puppies & Grooming
The home grooming process should start from when a puppy’s eyes are open and it can support itself on its legs. Small 10-20 second sessions to begin with then building up gradually to longer periods. This is a great video to use as guidance https://youtu.be/mUJUmcqrM4U. Following these tips will end up making your dog’s interaction with you and pet professionals a whole lot easier and happier throughout its life.
Where do I start?
The first thing to do is to be prepared. Have all of your tools, treats and grooming products to hand. Find a relaxed place and a raised surface which to groom on. The reason for a raised area is that your dog will start to realise that they are going to be handled by you, your vet or us, your groomer. This eventually makes the process an easier experience for your dog. Your dog needs to feel safe when on a raised surface so I suggest using a damp towel or a cut-down yoga mat to stand them so it stops your dog slipping and feeling unsafe on the surface. One product that we use a lot in the salon is the Vita Canis Calming Floral Spray. It’s a product that has visible results in working to calm and relax your dog. The ingredients are all-natural and it smells lovely. You could consider using a grooming arm and noose to add extra peace of mind that your dog is not going to jump or fall from the table.
What equipment should I use?
You would not believe the amount of equipment and products that are available to use when grooming a dog. I have bought a lot and tried a lot. Some great, some not so good. I will tell you about those that work for me in the salon and I use every day. At the bottom of this post is a list with links to where they can be purchased from.
Once you are ready begin brushing from the top of your dog’s head towards its tail and down to the ground, in the same direction as its coat grows. A good way to think of it is to imagine pouring water on to the top of your dog’s head and down its spine, the way that the water would run off is the direction that you should brush.
When brushing medium, long and wool coated dogs pay close attention to where mats and tangles are most likely to develop. Under and behind ears, armpits and elbows, haunches and where your dog’s collar and harness sit. These are indicated in the photo of the Retriever opposite.
Once you have brushed an area use your comb to check that all the knots and tangles are out by pushing the tip of the teeth gently to the skin and then pull gently the same way as you brushed. If the comb comes to a stop because of a tangle or knot take the comb out and brush further checking with your comb until the knot/tangle has been removed. I cannot stress enough that the worse possible thing to do is to pull at or remove the knots and tangles with the comb. This hurts the dog and it will hate the sight of the comb and brush and come to associate the grooming process as being a painful, negative experience.
With smooth and short-coated breeds start with the same principle as the water pouring using the Kong Zoom Groom to loosen all the dead coat from your dog. Once you’re happy with the results a spray of Ice on Ice will give a finishing feel and also repel dirt and dust.
With double-coated breeds, once you have brushed and checked the coat for knots and tangles start using the Andis De-Shedding tool to remove the undercoat. Pull the tool through the dog’s coat in the same direction as you brushed again paying particular attention to the ‘hot zone’ as indicated in the photo above.
Combs are used as a checking and coat lift tool in the grooming industry. They should never be used to remove knots and tangles as this will inevitably result in your dog hating the grooming process and it will react negatively when they see the comb and brushes. Use your slicker to remove the knots and tangles and the comb to check.
The comb pictured is a Greyhound brand. These are most probably the best-made combs on the market. I suggest the 7.1/2 inches with 1.3/8inch teeth
These are the workhorses of the dog salon. They are used to remove the undercoat, knots and tangles that are in the fur of silky, long and wool coated breeds & recommended for breeds such as Poodles, Bichon Frise, Shih-Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Cockerpoos, Labradoodles, Wire coated terriers and crossbreeds to name a few.
The brush pictured is from Simpsons and called Pro Medium Flexible Slicker. The different colours represent the hardness of the bristles. Purple is the one I recommend for home grooming. It is well made and can be found in most grooming salons around the UK.
There is always a debate on social media when professional groomers ask about de-tangling/de-matting sprays. In essence, there are two types, oil-based & silicone-based. I use both in the salon but recommend Chris Christensen Ice On Ice Detangler & Finishing Spray for use at home. It is silicone-based so will not leave the coat feeling greasy if you use too much. A light spray before you start brushing will make it a lot easier on both you and your dog. The other benefits of it are that it repels dirt, dust, urine and other pollutants that can damage a dog’s coat. It is available in both ready-mixed or concentrate. I’d go for the ready-mix, to begin with.
The Zoom Groom
When we have a short or smooth-coated dog on the table at the salon this is our go-to tool to start the de-shedding process. It is very safe, easy to use and very efficient at getting loose coat from a dog. This is suitable for breeds such as Labradors, German Shepherds, Pointers, Jack Russels and similar coats breeds.
To use, start at your dog’s head and brush towards its tail applying a reasonable amount of pressure. There are tools that look and work in a similar way but after trying them all in the salon the Kong Zoom Groom is in a league of its own.
The Andis De-Shedding Tool enables you to remove undercoat hair quickly, easily and effectively on double-coated breeds. The curved teeth of the tool help to ensure that scratching the dog’s sensitive skin is avoided, while it also helps to move deep into the coat. The rubberised, ergonomic handle allows you to have a good grip while also reducing hand fatigue as you work. This tool is suitable for any size of dog.
I hope that you have found this useful. If you have any questions please add a comment below, ask when you’re next in or give us a call!
All the best and take care!