No one really warns you when you get a cute puppy such as Bichon Frise, a Shih Tzu or Maltese or any long-coated breed about how much daily brushing is really required. And many times if we are warned or have researched the breed we don’t heed the warning, it all falls on deaf ears when we see that absolutely beautiful ball of fur – that lure of cuteness is enough to make us think we can keep up with the demanding at home grooming requirements, or the cost of regular trips to the groomers. I know it all too well believe it or not I was once in that position too.
Many times we are fooled into thinking our pup is the exception to the rule and get quite smug as at four or five months old he/she still has none, or hardly no matts so we don’t brush them out. Then the worst thing happens, that thing no one warned us about… All of a sudden almost overnight our cute fluffy little puppy starts to matt. We panic and reach for the brush, we’re not even sure we are using the right brush or even using it correctly but it doesn’t matter as our little puppy thinks we are playing with him and won’t let us brush him/her – so what do we do, more often than not we give up! We’ll wait a few weeks, maybe wash him/her and hope the matts fall out or bring him/her to the groomer failing that and ask for the groomer to cut as little off him/her as possible as we love their long fur or puppy look. The idea of shaving our puppy frightens the bejaysus out of us – we don’t want to lose our cute pup and we request that the matts just be brushed out, right? That’s not unreasonable sure that’s a groomers job, isn’t it? And sure once the coats saved you’ll start maintaining it yourself at home.
Does any of the above sound familiar?
All of the above was done out of love and care but the majority of the above mentioned, while extremely well intentioned is actually wrong. Are you the owner at fault because of this? In my opinion no, remember I was once in your situation. If you were never taught any different you weren’t to know but if you are reading this now it means you care and want to do the very best for your pup. So where do you start? We’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions along with things to do to maintain your dogs coat at home and what to expect from your groomer. Here are some essential dog grooming tips:
1) First and foremost have a chat with your groomer/ future groomer we are here to help.
Remember your groomer will be part of yours & your dog’s life for the duration of your dog’s life and depending on the style you keep your dogs coat in you could be seeing them as regular as every 4-8 weeks. Your groomer can advise you on what tools you require, how to, and how often to use them. There is no stupid question to ask your dog groomer, especially when it’s in the best interest of your furry child.
2) Tools are entirely breed & coat type dependent, your groomer is the best person to advise you on what tools you require.
I have heard of Pet Shops recommending ridiculously expensive tools that were entirely impractical for a dogs coat type – no disrespect meant to pet shops but your groomer will know what is best for your dog. Eg. a slicker brush & comb are great for Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise & Maltese coats, they are also great for Rough Collies & Samoyed Husky but you would also benefit from an under rake coat or de-shedding tool to help clear your Rough Collie or Samoyed Husky’s thick shedding undercoat to avoid matting & remove shedding.
3) When should I start brushing my Pup at home?
It is never too soon introduce your new pup to at home grooming. You should begin a brushing out routine from the first day you get your new pup so it becomes the norm for them. Yes, they will resist and try to eat your brush, this is all normal but you must persist as it’s in the pup’s best interest, trust me they learn to love it and it’s a great bonding routine for you and your pup. If a child doesn’t want to eat their vegetables you wouldn’t just give up on the premise that they didn’t like them, would you? No you persevere as it is in their best interest. The same goes for older dogs, they may resist grooming at first but don’t give up. I find when brushing out your pup/dog it helps if you put your pup or dog up on a high surface such as the ironing board in a quiet area of the house (you want minimal distractions – noisy kids playing in the background will distract your dog/pup & make things more difficult for you).
If you do choose to put your dog up on a high table or on the ironing board always keep one hand on them and never turn your back on them as you do not want them to fall off & injure themselves.
It is also extremely important to handle your dog as often as possible, lifting up the paws feeling in between their paw pads checking for any dirt, grit or matting, checking their nails and dew claws to ensure they are not ingrown or split. Checking inside their ears for any signs of dirt, infection, overgrown hair that might need professional plucking. Checking their coat for any parasites and their body for any lumps and bumps. Basically checking everywhere including your dogs teeth & gums – you should also maintain your dogs teeth at home. You should handle your dog or puppy as much as you can so they have no problems with human handling – this will make all future vet visits or groomer visits a walk in the park for both you and your dog.
4) Can I wash my pup at home, and If so When?
Provided your pup has had the last of its puppy injections you are free to wash them BUT please ensure you do the following first.
Never ever wash a puppy/dog without brushing them out fully first – any matts will tighten once they come into contact with water or shampoo. Bad matting could result in your dog/pup needing to be shaved down tight.
Do not use human shampoo, the PH level of human shampoo is too high for your pup/dogs skin and can cause irritation. Use special puppy or dog shampoos which are readily available in most good pet shops.
Do not let water enter your pup/dog’s nose this can have severe consequences. Do not let water enter your dog’s ears as this can lead to ear infections and do not let shampoo enter their eyes.
5) When Can I take my Pup to the Groomers?
You are free to take your pup to the Groomers as soon as he/she has had their final puppy injection. I often recommend waiting till about a week after they had their final shot just incase they are a bit tender on their injection site. You want your pup’s first visit to the groomer to be as enjoyable as possible & the earlier you bring them to the groomer the better. At Gabby and Miley’s Grooming Studio we always recommend that your pups first groom is just a ‘puppy groom’ which generally just consists of a brush-out, wash blow-dry and a small trim so as to not overwhelm your pup. If you wait till your pup is matted before its first trip to the groomers then you run the risk that the groom will not be enjoyable for your dog and they may develop a fear of being groomed. Which could result in future trips being to a vet groomer whereby your dog may need to be sedated which could be costly & risky to your dogs health as they grow older in age.
I remember the first time we brought our first dog to the groomers I think it was more traumatic for my Mom and I than it was for him. Think bringing your child for their first day of school we were in tears and he was delighted with himself tongue emoticon At Gabby & Miley’s Grooming Studio we look after your fur baby as though it were our own with plenty of reassuring cuddles so you have no need to worry – we know the feeling of dropping your pup off especially for the first groom. As tough as it is for you remember your dog/pup can pick up on your emotions so try to be as upbeat as possible to make the process more enjoyable for your dog.
My Pup/Dog is matted – What Can I Do?
Book a grooming appointment immediately. Matting – think someone pulling your hair every time you try to walk – ouch! Matting can severely hurt your dog & cause bruising, also you do not know what is lurking beneath matts – from infected cuts to parasites. Do not attempt to wash your dog if he/she is matted as it will just tighten the matts causing further discomfort.
If your pup/dog is very matted a groomer has no other choice but to shave the pup/dog’s fur there is no other humane way to remove matting without causing severe discomfort to your dog.
I have had many customers come to me with severely matted dogs & complaining about how the previous groomer did a horrendous job on them, or shaved the dog pink. If your dog is severely matted a groomer has no other choice but to shave your dog down to free them from the matts and restore comfort to your dog – this is not your groomers fault they cannot brush out week/months of matts in a few hours. Believe it or not close shave downs are much more difficult & riskier for dog groomers to carry-out and many times behind the scenes we groomers are balling crying trying to free poor dogs from severe matting cases. If you do not, or are not willing to brush your dog out regularly then please do what is in the best interest for your dog and either get your dog professionally groomed every month or keep it in a short style. Short style grooms can be extremely stylish too. Please think about your dog’s comfort level before requesting a style that is impractical for you to manage. Also please note that with all groomers matting incurs a matting fee so regular grooming will actually work out cheaper in the long run.
Most importantly of all please never ever be afraid to ask your groomer how to maintain your dogs coat at home, about which styles are easier to maintain, what tools to use. At Gabby & Miley’s Grooming Studio we are more than happy to advise you on all of the above & to teach you how to brush out your dog properly. Also we would be happy to order in any tools, shampoos or colognes you may need for your dog/pup. We got into grooming for our love of dogs and genuinely care about your dog even when they are not in our Studio. So please if you have any questions just let us know & we’ll do our best to help you where we can.
All the Best,
Avril, Gabby & Miley
PS. Even though I am a professional Groomer with all the equipment Gabby (pictured) & Miley are kept in a short style as it is easier for me to maintain – which means I spend my free time playing with them rather than constantly brushing them out. 🙂