Nice or Nightmare?
Grooming can be a pleasure for the dog and owner, or it can be a nightmare. A dog must be taught to be groomed and this is not always an easy prospect. Of course you would be much better off to start with a young puppy so that it becomes used to being groomed early on, but unfortunately this can not always be the case. Dogs who are older and are placed in adoptive homes from shelters, for example, may not have gotten used to this process at an early age.
Many owners will ignore the grooming when they find out that they can’t control the dog to do it. (Or they will spend big bucks with a groomer). However, it is very important that a dog with a long coat or a double coat be groomed on a regular basis. The coat that has mats can block air from getting to the skin, causing hot spots. A dog that is not groomed is not pleasant to be around, it will either be smelly or it will drip shedding hair off onto the furniture or your clothes. Sometimes this is one of the reasons some dogs are banished to live outside rather than in the home! Furthermore, grooming the dog on a regular basis will stimulate the skin and keep the dog healthier, in the same way that a human must wash the scalp and brush the hair to maintain a healthy scalp.
Training a dog to be groomed is not too difficult if you make up your mind to do it and get the right equipment. Getting the equipment is a small expense compared to the expense of taking the dog to a groomer. A good pair of clippers is indispensable if you have a dog with a long coat. The usual cost for clippers is about $80.00. A comb, with both wide spaced and close spaced teeth is around $7.00. An undercoat rake is around $5.00, a pin brush, $12.00 and a slicker brush, $5.00. Then of course, there are nail clippers, which will run around $12.00. Dogs with short coats will not require as much, a grooming mitten or a slicker brush will be plenty. These products are just basics but are a good start and certainly will be paid for after only or two groomings at a professional groomers!
Some folks go all out and purchase a grooming table with an arm and a big fancy dryer. As a matter of fact, most “show people” with “show dogs” will have that and much more, but the average pet owner merely needs to make sure that they have the basics.
Once you have the equipment, it is necessary that you learn how to control your dog so that you can groom him. Here is where the “training” comes in. Both long coated dogs and short coated dogs should be trained to lie or sit quietly during the grooming process and should know to roll over and expose their bellies and should allow you to handle their feet and clean their ears. Start by putting the dog into a down position and follow through with the word “stay!” then simply start to brush the dog, gently. For heaven’s sakes, do not start right off the bat with yanking out big mats. Simply start in places you know the dog will enjoy being brushed, usually just along the top of the back and the shoulders. Gradually work into the places that are more tender. Push or pull the dog as necessary into the positions you need to, but be gentle and firm and speak to him as you brush. Work through the coat gently and persuade the dog with a treat to distract him when it is going to be a touchy spot. When you do get to places where mats build up and the skin is tender, this is where the clippers can come in mighty handy. Simply clipping out the mats between the hind legs and behind the ears is way easier on the dog’s tender skin and certainly works just as well if not better than yanking out those mats with a comb.
Building up to longer sessions is necessary. Keep the grooming sessions short and gradually make them longer. Grooming often, several times a week, a bit at a time, will get the dog used to being handled and combed. Just keep in mind that one step at a time will eventually lead to a dog that will love to lie down and get a nice grooming. It is a great time to bond with your dog and it is something that you can make the time for, if you just make up your mind to do it. Both of you will be happier, in the end.