Grooming your dog can be essential — or optional — depending on the breed. But even modest grooming at home is good for your dog and great for bonding.
Professional vs home grooming
Some dogs have coats that require professional attention. Their coats may grow fast, get matted, and may hide the lines typical of their breed. But but all dogs benefit from being bathed, brushed and having their nails trimmed.
A professional has the tools, experience and equipment to groom a dog efficiently and safely. But you can do many things at home that help your dog look better and make professional grooming easier.
Having a regular grooming schedule at home offers:
- Quality bonding time. Done gently and watchfully, it’s a mini-massage. Your attention is focused on your dog and she’s totally relaxed.
- Smooths and cleans his coat. Brushing removes dirt and irritants, spreads natural oils throughout the fur and gets his fur going the same direction. There’s a visible difference once the tufts of fur about to be shed have been removed.
- Reduces shedding. Brushing your dog often gets rid of loose fur before it falls on clothing, carpet, furniture or car seats.
- Health check up. While your dog is relaxed and enjoying being brushed, you have a chance to do a nose-to-tail inspection. Between brush strokes, run your hand over your dog’s body checking for sensitive spots, lumps or lipomas.
- Flea monitoring. This is a good time to check for dirt and other signs of fleas.
- Check up on paws and claws. While you brush, massage or examine your dog, be sure to check the length of his claws and the state of his paws.
Home grooming tools
A regular brushing and massage is a good place to start. Here are a few common tools:
- A rubber brush. These come in different shapes and sizes. Some even fit over your hand like a mitten. They all have small rubber nubs that both massage a dog and remove loose fur.
- A bristle brush. This looks like a hair brush. The bristles get in deeper and closer than the rubber brush. These do a better job of picking up loose fur soon be shed than a rubber brush. They also distribute oils through a dog’s coat for a smooth, glossy look. This type of brush works best on short to medium long coats. It may work only superficially on a shaggy or long-coated dog.
- A slicker brush. This is one of our favorites. It has a pad of what look like closely set metal prongs that are excellent for removing loose fur. The one we use has a button on the back that raises the pad to the ends of the prongs so you can lift off the excess fur. Use it gently. It can be irritating to a dog.
- A shedding tool. This looks like a metal oval with a handle. One side of the metal strip is smooth; the other is saw-toothed. This combs loose fur off the coat. It’s very useful as the weather warms and shedding season begins.
There are many other types of combs, rakes or mat breakers. The tools you need depend on your dog’s coat, whether it has an undercoat, how long it is, how much she sheds and whether her coat has a curl in it.
While a full grooming session might include a bath and a pedicure, we focus on a good brushing, a massage and a head-to-tail check. We look for things we can do easily and regularly. We leave claw-clipping to the professionals.