Many dog lovers feel that grooming your dog can provide an excellent bonding experience for both of you. This is primarily true if you start the grooming routine while your dog is quite young and make it a fun experience for him.
Most dogs love to be brushed, provided you use a good quality comb or brush and take the time to gently pull out tangles. While daily brushing will prevent mats from forming, your dog still may have areas that tend to get tangled more often than not. For these areas, it is important that you take special care not to hurt the dog while you are detangling.
For pain-free detangling, try this. Hold the tangled hair close to the root with one hand. This will allow the pulling to be done only at the ends, not at the roots. Using a comb, begin with the tips of the hair and detangle the first inch or so. Once that first inch at the tip is detangled, move up the hair strands another inch and work on that portion. Each time one portion is detangled, move up another inch until you have reached the root section. Doing this allows you to take out the tangles by stages, rather than trying to comb the tangles from the root end down and through the tangles at the tips.
As your dog gains confidence that you are not going to hurt him, he will begin to look forward to his daily brushing. Brushing your dog every day also cuts down on the amount of shed fur that will end up all over your house, and it may even reduce any allergic reactions your family members have to the dog by cutting down on the amount of dander that is left in the carpets. Finally, brushing distributes the oils from the skin throughout the fur, keeping your dog's coat shiny and healthy.
There are as many methods for bathing your dog as Heinz has pickles. Whether you choose to use the bathtub, the shower, the hose outside, the utility tub next to your washing machine, or the kitchen sink, there are a few items that should remain constant.
First, make sure you have all of your supplies gathered near the water supply before you even attempt to corral your dog. You need a mild shampoo, cream rinse if desired, cotton balls, mineral oil, petroleum jelly, and towels.
Start by putting a small amount of petroleum jelly on two cotton balls and stuffing the cotton into your dog's ears as far as you can reach. This will keep water out of his ear canals. Next, put a few drops of mineral oil in each eye to keep shampoo from irritating the eyes if you would happen to splash some in.
Wet the dog thoroughly from head to toe, including his undercarriage. Apply some shampoo to your hands or to a washrag and begin soaping up the dog, covering all surfaces, but being careful to keep the soap out of his eyes. Work the shampoo between his toes and into any other tight spaces such as skin wrinkles. Rinse completely, especially in those same tight spaces.
Before you let your dog loose, get him as dry as possible with towels. The first thing he will do when he is free is shake, which will give the area a pretty good shower. Drying him as much as possible first will make the mess a little smaller. Final drying can be done with a hair dryer, although most dogs do not like this sound. There is nothing wrong with letting him air dry for a few hours, but you should not let him outside until he is completely dry, particularly in cooler weather. You may want to keep him confined to a small area that is easy to dry off. Some dogs run immediately to the bedroom and try to dry off on the bed covers as soon as they get loose.
Tomato juice is one possibility, but you usually end up with a dog that smells like a skunk that has been cooked in spaghetti sauce. Pet stores carry a commercial remedy called Skunk Off, which offers somewhat better results.
To make a skunk rinse at home, combine 1 quart hydrogen peroxide with Ľ cup baking soda and 1 teaspoon dish liquid. The skunk smell comes from an oily substance in the skunk's spray, so you want something that will cut through grease, like Dawn brand. If your dog is large, you may need to double or triple this recipe.
Wet your dog completely so he is totally drenched down to his skin. Pour the mixture all over the dog and massage it into the fur. Allow it to soak in for about five minutes, then rinse thoroughly with clear water. Repeat if necessary.
Short-haired breeds rarely need to have their hair cut, unless the dog rolls around in something that cannot be cut out. Longer haired breeds require haircuts every 1 or 2 months to keep the hair healthy and strong. However, dogs should not be shaved completely, as the fur serves a dual purpose of sunscreen and air conditioning.
If you are unsure how to style your dog's hair at home, you may have to experiment a few times to get the right look. Many curly-haired dogs are clipped to a general "puppy cut", where all the hair is cut to a length of 3 or 4 inches in all areas. Other dogs have specific styles that are considered "normal" for certain breeds. For these dogs, you may want to have the dog professionally groomed once or twice a year, then just perform monthly maintenance trimming at home in between visits.
The best way to keep your dog's nails at a decent length is to take him for frequent walks. Walking on a hard surface naturally grinds down all but the dew claws, so you never have to pay someone or try yourself to cut his nails.
Most dogs are terminally scared of having their nails cut. Even with the new grinders, dogs tend to run away when they see you coming. To make this a little more palatable, spend lots of time rubbing your dog's feet while he is just a puppy. This will get him used to your touching his toes, making him more comfortable with the whole process.
If you are using a grinder, allow your dog to sniff it several times over the course of a few days while it is turned off. Then, turn it on a few times to get him used to the sound. When he is comfortable with that, begin massaging his feet while you hold the buzzing grinder. Finally, you can approach his toenails with the machine and see if he allows you to file down his nails.
To trim your dog's nails at home, you want him to be totally relaxed. Get him to lie down, preferably on his side. Come up from behind him and spend some time just loving on him so that he relaxes. Lean over his back, with your weight holding him in position. Use your dominant hand to hold the trimmer. Your non-dominant hand is used to hold the dog's head down and hold the paw. Curl his foot under at the last joint so his nails are pointing back towards you.
The easiest type of trimmer to use is the type that has a ring hole and a guillotine-type slicer. Always use the trimmer so that the cutting blade is on your side and the screws on the handle are facing the dog. This places the blade further away from the sensitive part of the dog's nails and prevents you from cutting too deeply. The most important thing to remember is not to cut into the quick of the nail, where blood vessels and nerves are located.
If your dog has light-colored nails, you can see where the quick begins and can make one decisive cut at the desired length. If the nails are dark, you will want to make several small cuts, taking off only as much as is required to keep your dog comfortable while not encroaching on the quick. As you cut deeper into the nail, look at the cut edge. The bottom part will be light-colored, while the top part is mottled light and dark. As you get close to the quick, this mottled portion will disappear, leaving a gray to pink oval. This is the beginning of the quick, and you should stop cutting when you see it. You will know if you have cut into the quick, as your dog will jump and yelp from the pain, and his nail will begin bleeding. The bleeding should stop in about 5 minutes, and can be treated by dipping the nail into corn starch.
To make your cuts, insert the nail into the ring of the clippers. Squeezing the handles together causes the blade to be drawn down through the nail. You do not want the blade to be positioned to draw across the nail because it may cause splintering.
Once you have completed his grooming, make sure to spend time playing with your dog, giving him the attention he craves. This will help to convince him that you still love him, as well as that grooming doesn't mean the end of the world.
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