This is a brief outline on how to brush your dogs coat at home to keep them matt free. For some shedding breeds like a Samoyed Husky or a Shetland Sheepdog you will need additional tools such as a de-shedding tool like a Furminator & an undercoat rake.
The following is the perfect instructional guidelines for home care of breeds like the Bichon Frise, Shih Tzu, Maltese, Cavachons, Cavalier King Charles, Yorkshire Terrier, Maltichons, etc. to ensure they remain matt free between grooming appointments.
Home brushing can be very rewarding for you and your dog and can increase the bond between dog and owner. If you are just starting home brushing then keep sessions short and fun by regularly treating & praising your dog or puppy during the brushing session. I like to use little pieces of chicken to treat my dogs or whatever your dog’s preference is. Avoid high distractions areas like areas where kids or other dogs are at play. If you cannot get your dog to sit still try placing them up on a high area that restricts their movement like an ironing board. Ensuring you keep one hand and both eyes on your dog at all times to ensure they do not fall off. Again if you are just starting off home brushing it is important that you keep the sessions short and fun, building up the time each night, treating and praising your dog regularly.
Selecting the right tools. For the breeds as mentioned above you will require a slicker brush & metal comb as pictured below:
Take your slicker brush in the palm of your hand. The picture below shows how I like to hold the slicker brush as I feel it gives me better control over the brush. It is very inportant that you note that the slicker brush has very harsh metal pins and you under no circumstance want to repeatedly scrape these off of your dog’s skin as you will cause a skin irritation known as brush burn. I always advise my cutomers to test these brushes on the back of their own hands first so they note the damage that can be done if repeatedly rubbed against the skin. To use the slicker brush you hold it at an angle and brush down and out wards with the fall of the coat and away from the dog’s skin.
This is a very important step – Lift up your dog’s coat to expose the skin. if you cannot see the skin the chances are your dog is already very matted. You must always lift your dog’s coat section by section revealing the skin as this is the only way to ensure you are brushing your dogs coat properly from the inside out.
Start at the very end of your dogs paw/leg with the slicker brush & work your way up the body, each time lifting the coat to reveal the skin and brushing in a downward & out motion with the fall of the coat, taking care not to scrape your dog’s skin with the pins of the slicker brush. When you have the first paw and leg completed. Take out your metal comb and perform ‘a comb test.’ A comb test is quite simply repeating what you did with the slicker brush in the same area – if the comb gets stuck or does not pass through an area from the skin outwards then you did not brush the area properly with the slicker brush. Repeat the slicker brush and comb test process till the comb glides through the coat effortlessly. If you are finding the slicker brush is not clearing the matts do not force it through causing your dog discomfort – it may be that your dog is too matted and the best thing you can do is book the dog into the groomers ASAP.
Repeat Step 4 all over your dogs body. Paying particular attention to the areas known as friction areas. Such as around the collar area behind the ears, your dogs armpit area especiallly if they wear a harness. Also pay particular attention to their paws and their inner back leg areas these areas can get really badly matted especially on curly coated breeds due to the inclement Irish weather and overexposure to puddles & rain water when walking. It is also important to ensure you thoroughly brush out your dogs ears, the under side as well as the outside and their tail – these areas are usually longer and more susceptible to matting.
L-R: Outside of Ear, Inset of Ear, Slicker Brush on Tail, Comb Test on Tail