Brushing and Coat Care: A How-To Guide for Puppies (and Dogs)
Different breeds of dogs have different needs when it comes to coat care. It is best that you ask your breeder’s advice, or talk with a professional groomer on what the best ways are to groom your puppy. Dog breeds with long hair or those with bristly hair, for instance, have more specific needs when it comes to grooming.
In fact, it is probably best if you do not try to clip your dog’s hair unless you are familiar with how to do it correctly. Professional groomers have ways of keeping dogs still for haircuts, and unless you are familiar with the techniques, you could end up accidentally injuring your dog. Best to leave it to a professional if you have any concerns.
Generally, your mission (if you choose to accept it) is to brush your puppy’s coat. There are grooming brushes that are specifically developed for your dog’s particular hair type, as well metal combs that divide the hair and gets out the smaller bits of dirt and any bugs that may become embedded into the hair.
Short-haired dogs, such as the Beagle, Doberman, Great Dane and Boxer require the use of a bristle brush. A slicker brush and a pin brush must be used on dogs with double-textured fur, such as the husky and Chow Chow. Long-haired dogs like the Shih Tzu, Maltese, Yorkshire terrier and Afghan need to be brushed with slicker and pin brushes, as well as a comb for the final feathering.
A puppy should be brushed daily, but each session must be a short and pleasant experience for her. Choose the location depending on how much hair you expect your dog to shed during the brushing -- unless you really do not mind the clean-up. It can be done on the floor, on top of a table, or on a mat or carpet specifically for grooming purposes. Or, you might want to take her outside so that the hair is shed out of doors, where you do not have to concern yourself with cleaning it up. Let the puppy sit or have her lie on her side while you brush her fur gently.
Brush the hair in the opposite direction of hair growth at first, and then follow by brushing it in the direction of hair growth. Speak to your puppy softly as you brush her fur and praise her when you are done.
In fact, you should even praise her if she’s sitting still, and if she struggles, give her a firm shake along with a command, saying “No, stay!” in an assertive, but non-aggressive voice. You do not want her to be frightened, but you do want her to know that you are in charge and that she must be still for grooming. Praise her immediately when she obeys so that she relates the behavior with your command.
Remember that you want this to be an enjoyable experience. If your dog knows how to consistently please you, she will do so, but if she is frightened, she will try to get out of it every time.
An easy way to avoid accidents is to never (ever!) leave your puppy unattended during a grooming session, especially if she is on top of a grooming table. Professional groomers use a table hook with a harness or leash system to restrain dogs and keep them from accidental injuries or escape. During the stage in which you are getting your puppy used to being still, you might want to employ this method as well, even if you are working on the floor with your puppy.
Use these techniques and with a little luck you will have a puppy worthy of a Best in Show award.
Image: Mark J. Handy / via Flickr
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