Notes for maintaining your dog's coat
Brush and comb. Get a good quality slicker brush that will get right into your dog's coat and help to remove shedding hair and detangle any forming knots. A good quality slicker brush, used correctly, will not hurt your dog. Don't brush too hard, and don't brush in one spot too much, but be thorough and ensure you aren't 'surface brushing'. Follow up with a comb - run a comb through the coat, right down to the skin, to make sure there aren't any knots beginning to form which you may have missed. In longer coated breeds you may have to part the hair to get right down into it, and work in sections to make sure you've gone through the entire coat. It is vitally important that you remove any knots or matts BEFORE bathing your dog. If knots get wet, they get worse. A matted coat will have to be clipped off close to the skin. This is more dangerous, more uncomfortable, more unattractive and more expensive for you! A matted coat causes severe discomfort for the dog and can cause a huge range of health problems. Most importantly, for maintaining the health of your dog's skin and coat is to have your dog professionally groomed every 4 to 6 weeks. This is ideal for maintaining a knot free coat, at an appropriate length for you and your dog, nail trimming, ear plucking/cleaning, etc. If you would like to keep the coat particularly long - or you don't brush, comb or bathe your dog yourself often enough, a more frequent appointment may be more suitable.
If your dog doesn't like being brushed - you must be persistent (or keep it maintained at a short length). Try brushing your dog when they are tired and laying about, perhaps on your lap, or try propping them up on a safe but elevated surface, to avoid them just trying to get away. Be gentle, but firm, don't give in too easily! Use your voice, and a firm "no" if they aren't co-operating, and praise, praise, praise them when they're doing the right thing! Treats - after they've done well - also work wonders, but timing with treats is essential. If you keep grooming time to a similar time of day or at a particular place in the home, they will associate and know it's 'grooming time' - and hopefully, they'll learn that this is praise or treats or 'massage' time - or "me" time - they will love the attention that grooming gives them. Never use human products - shampoos etc - on your dog. We have different pH levels to them and human products can be harmful. Don't hesitate to ask us for any more info or tips you need for maintaining your dog's coat.
Caring for a puppy - grooming notes
The key is to start early. As soon as you get your new puppy, begin to play with, hold and touch areas such as feet, face, ears etc. This will help them for future grooming handling, nail clipping, ear plucking/cleaning etc. Start when your puppy is tired and calm, introduce brushing in small, short sessions at first and use similar points as explained above. As soon as your puppy is fully vaccinated, you should take them to a professional groomer. Brushing, bathing and blow drying at home is great, but it is totally different to the noises and handling they will experience in the salon. They may not need much of a 'haircut' as young puppies, but exposing them to shorter, less involved sessions of professional grooming - more regularly at first - will familiarise them with it all very quickly. It is important to consider if your dog will need the services of a professional groomer - will you take them for clipping, groom outs, de-shedding treatments, hydrobathing, nail trimming etc? You should consider exposing them to these experiences early on - it makes for a much happier dog, groomer and owner in the long run!
The Matted Coat
A matted coat is usually caused by neglect. Not enough professional grooming, a lack of brushing, or sometimes fleas or skin allergies which make a dog scratch can cause matts. A matted coat is extremely uncomfortable for a dog, often inhibiting it's ability to move freely and pulling on the skin. The only solution for a matted coat is to clip it off, under the matts, extremely close to the skin. This in itself can sometimes cause problems, such as skin irritations, as the skin is suddenly 'released' from the coat, causing itching, which the dog will want to scratch, which will in turn irritate and so on, therefore they will often develop a rash. It is much more difficult for a groomer to clip off a matted coat as the matts pull the skin up towards the clippers, making it easier to accidentally nick the dog. They will often act differently after having a severley matted coat removed, going from one extreme from another and may also act strangely afterwards. Letting your dog 'GO' over winter is NOT the right thing to do. The idea is to maintain more length in the coat if you'd like to keep them warm that way. You would be better off having your dog clipped shorter in the winter and keeping them warm with jumpers, bedding and blankets, that to keep a coat on them which is knotty and matted. Other than the obvious discomfort, matted fur inhibits air getting to the coat, and is perfect breeding ground for bacteria causing skin irritations and problems, if your dog gets wet, matts hold moisture for a long time, close to the dog's skin, which is cold and also causes bacterial problems. Think about it - would we feel happy, healthy and comfortable with a head full of matted hair? Even if it was cold and someone thought it might keep us warm? The health of a dog's skin and coat is often overlooked when people consider the grooming needs of their pet. Your dog is covered in it's coat -from head to tail - so obviously it is just as important to look after as the rest of them!