From an article of mine first published in Modern Dog magazine.
A: REGULAR BRUSHING PLAY AN IMPORTANT PART IN MAINTAINING a dog's physical and emotional well-being. The Canadian Kennel Club says regular grooming helps keep the coat and skin healthy, in addition to enhancing the natural beauty of any dog. The massaging action also helps stimulate the immune system. Furthermore, dogs are social pack animals and communicate largely through body language: brushing can be a relaxing social event as well as being healthy. Think of it a doggie spa time!
According to The Complete Dog Book of the American Kennel Club, "Brushing several times a week will keep the average dog neat and clean, although daily attention is better." Communicate positive feelings as you brush by talking quietly to your dog, using an upbeat tone. This routine also will help you, naturally and without stres, to establish yourself in that all-important alpha position that will aid you in all your other interactions with your dog.
Dogs with short hair need to be brushed to remove dead hair and distribute natural oils through the coat. Medium to long-haired dogs need to be brushed and combed out regularly to prevent tangles and mats from forming. According to author Shirlee Kalstone in the Complete Poodle Clipping and Grooming Book, brushing helps keep the skin clean and makes the dog less susceptible to disease and external parasites.
The type of brush to use depends on coat texture and length. Very short coats like those of Boxers or Beagles will need a curry brush to pull out dead hair and polish the coat. Medium to long coats will require a slicker bruh and comb. These, if used properly, will keep most medium to long coats from becoming matted. The slicker brush will also help pull out the undercoat on double-coated breeds such as German Shepherd Dogs. Very long coats like those of Afghan Hounds will need a pin brush and a comb.
Your professional groomer will be glad to show you proper brushing techniques to maintain a healthy coat between grooming visits. You should also use a coat conditioner such as Quicker Slicker™ by Nature's Specialties. This all-natural product is lightly sprayed onto a dog's coat before and during brushing. On short-haired dogs it humidifies the coat, leaving a beautiful gloss when used with the currie brush. On medium to long-haird dogs it eliminates dryness and helps remove loose hair. It also helps detangle.
When you initially introduce your dog to brushing make it a happy and rewarding experience. A puppy's experience will determine how it relates to grooming for a long time to come. In her book The Art and Business of Professional Grooming, Dorothy Walin writes, "A dog's good grooming behavior is a matter of your patience and persistance. It cannot be achieved by either physical or verbal abuse of the dog."
Smaller dogs can be put on a table or countertop. A towel laid down first will help with footing. Larger dogs can stand on the floor on a rubber-backed runner or bath mat. All dogs should be secured with a leash attached to an eye bolt. This stops the smaller dogs from jumping off the table and keeps both your hands free. It also stop the bigger dog from simply walking away.
Brushing older dogs presents different challenges. They can have arthritic pain, just as we do. Their spines can have degenerative problems that make it uncomfortable to stand. If they want to sit, let them. Keep watch for any unusual physical changes and report these to your vet. Never try to pull any dog's legs out sideways from it's body, regardless of age.
Try to make time for regular brushing sessions with your dog. Your dog lives for your attention and praise and in return will give back unending love, absolute loyalty and non-judgmental devotion.
In the words of Mordecai Siegel, "Acquiring a dog may be the only opportunity a human ever has to choose a relative."
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Author: Danielle Lea MacDonald, Certified Master Groomer IPG, ISCC. Pivotal member of the Society of Holistic Pet Stylists. Lifetime Member In Good Standing International Society of Canine Cosmetologists.
Danielle's Studio is a full-service, pet grooming spa designed exclusively for grooming small dogs.
I am committed to meeting the highest standards of the Pet Styling Industry. Grooming is my passion!
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