Grooming your dog provides you with an opportunity to form a closer bond with your pup and keeps them looking and feeling healthy and clean. In this blog, our vets in Lafayette provide you with tips about grooming your dog at home and explain the benefits of keeping your dog well-groomed.
The Basics of Dog Grooming
The grooming needs of your dog will depend on its breed, fur length, and lifestyle. Most of the time, long-haired dogs will require more grooming than short hair pups. Dogs that spend a lot of time outside will also need more grooming than pups that spend more time indoors.
Although, every dog will benefit from basic grooming such as brushing, nail trimming, bathing, and hair cuts (based on their breed).
Before taking your dog into the room, have all of the tools you need for their grooming ready. Being prepared in advance will help you stay calm during the grooming process.
Talk to your canine friend in calm, warming tones and allow them to safely explore and sniff the brushes, clippers, and other tools. Wait until your pooch is calm to start grooming, and have some treats on hand to reward good behavior. The key to a successful grooming session is staying positive, calm, and patient.
Give your dog a nice, soapy bath to remove debris and dirt from their coat and to help keep their skin healthy. This part of grooming comes with the caution that bathing your dog too often can damage hair follicles, and increase their risk of developing fungal or bacterial infections that could cause skin irritations.
Your dog’s specific bathing schedule will be determined by how dirty they get, and the type of fur they have. But, bathing your pooch one to three times monthly with warm water and a specially formulated dog shampoo should be enough (your shampoo could cause skin irritation for your pup).
If your dog’s fur is very long or curly, conditioners and detanglers formulated for dogs work well. Use them as directed.
If you find your dog is nervous around water, start slowly. Try standing him in a dry bathtub and offering a treat for good behavior. From here, gradually progress to having him stand in a dry bath as you clean him with a wet sponge. Incrementally move towards giving your dog a full bath as they stand in water.
If your dog loves being brushed one of the hardest parts of your task has already been completed. For most breeds of dogs, one brushing a week will help remove dead hair from your pooch’s coat, preventing matting and skin irritation. Bonus: This will also help to reduce the amount of fur your dog sheds around the house.
If your dog has an active lifestyle or spends a significant amount of time outdoors, it may need to be brushed more frequently. You may only need to brush your short-haired pup once a month.
Did you know that there are nail clippers specially designed for dogs? Along with shampoo and conditioner, purchase one of these and start trimming your pup’s nails when they are still young - this can help you become more confident and your dog will probably begin tolerating having their nails clipped as they age.
If your dog doesn’t like having its paws touched, work up to nail trimming by gently stroking their feet while they get used to the feeling. Once you find your dog starting to tolerate having its feet touched, start by trimming a single nail. As they become less anxious and learn good grooming manners, reward good behavior by offering treats and praise.
Take nail trimming slow to start, even if this means only clipping one nail during each attempt. If you’re not comfortable trimming your dog’s nails yourself (or if your dog isn’t able to tolerate it), consider hiring a qualified professional to do it.
Different breeds will have different needs regarding haircuts. Talk to your Lafayette vet or a professional groomer to learn exactly how often your dog should get a haircut - or if at all - and how best to do it.
Begin at-home haircuts by using good quality dog shampoo to bathe your dog, then towel dry and brush them. With sharp scissors, trim the fur around their face and feet. Use electric clippers on the rest of their body.
If your dog is fidgety or anxious, or if you’d prefer to avoid the mess of cutting your dog’s hair yourself, you may want to take your dog to a professional groomer.
At St. Francis Veterinary Hospital, we love helping your pets look and feel clean, and stay healthy and neat - whether you require a mid-winter pampering session or a trim to help your pup stay cool and comfortable in the summer heat.
Plus, we have all the tools necessary and are trained to keep even anxious dogs relaxed throughout the grooming process. We also offer grooming services for cats.
How to Groom a Nervous or Anxious Dog
Grooming is an important part of your dog’s well-being. Excessively long nails, matted fur, and goopy ears can lead to serious health issues if left unattended.
From bathing, brushing, and ear cleaning to nail trimming, you may quickly start to dread grooming if your dog is nervous or anxious about the grooming process.
Here are just a few tips that can help your dog relax and enjoy the grooming process:
- Ensure your dog gets lots of exercise before you start to groom them.
- Positive reinforcement works wonders. Offer treats for good behavior.
- Dog parents know their dogs love to be pets, so keep this in mind when you bathe your pup. Dole out the pats and hugs throughout the grooming session to let your pup know that everything is okay and that they don’t need to be afraid.
- Is your dog very nervous? You may want to think about using a calming dog pheromone diffuser with a non-sedative, odorless, and synthetic hormone to help your dog relax. Speak to your vet to learn more.
- Dab a calming aromatherapy oil (such as lavender oil) on your fingers as your pet your dog and run your hands through their fur while you bathe them.
When combined with regular exercise and annual examinations including vaccines and parasite prevention, basic grooming will help you keep your dog looking and feeling well.