For many of us, our dogs are considered beloved members of our family. They are constantly by our side and we know we can count on them even when it seems as though everyone else has abandoned us.
It is not surprising then that when it comes to caring for our dogs, nothing but the best will do. We care for them as we care for our own children by feeding them, loving them and giving them plenty of attention. We also need to care for them in one other important way: by grooming them on a regular basis.
In this course, we will show you how you can meet all of your dog’s grooming needs. From bathing and brushing to nail clipping and even taking care of those nasty anal sacs, we will provide step by step instructions for making sure you do the job right.
Despite what you may think, grooming a dog isn’t that difficult to do; all that you need are a few basic supplies, some patience and a handful of treats!
The Importance of Good Doggie-Grooming
Just as grooming is an essential part of a human’s daily routine, maintaining a regular dog-grooming routine is an important step in maintaining your dog’s health. Think about it: How quickly would your appearance deteriorate if you didn’t make a regular habit of washing and combing your hair, brushing your teeth or clipping your nails? In similar fashion, dogs that aren’t properly and regularly groomed will eventually look and smell dirty.
In addition to maintaining a pleasing outward appearance, regular grooming stimulates the blood supply to the skin which gives dogs healthier, shinier coats. This is because as you brush, you are spreading the dog’s skin oils throughout its coat. Regular brushing also helps to remove dead hair – and keeps that hair from accumulating on your rugs, furniture and clothing – as well as keeping matting and snarls to a minimum. It also helps to prevent unwanted parasites from taking up residence in your dog’s coat and keeps painful sores from developing.
Remember , good grooming habits go beyond simply giving your dog a regular bath and brushing its coat each day. Tasks such as nail clipping, ear and eye cleaning, and teeth brushing are important, as well.
In the case of nail clipping, in addition to protecting your wood floors from scratches, regular nail clipping will help keep your dog’s paws comfortable to walk on because as a dog’s nails grow longer, their balance can be affected. Regular – and careful – ear cleaning can help prevent painful ear infections. And, as you would expect, maintaining a regular oral cleansing schedule will help keep your dog’s teeth healthy and prevent that foul smelling “doggie breath.”
Good grooming habits also help to increase the bond between the dog and its owner. In addition to simply allowing you to spend time with your dog, a dog that is brushed on a routine basis will look upon that time as a source of affection and attention, two things that virtually all dogs crave.
Finally, one of the best indicators of a dog’s overall health is their coat. A shiny, thick coat can usually be taken as a sign that all is well internally. If you see that even with regular attention, your dog’s coat is starting to lose some of its luster, it could mean that there is something going on that may need the attention of your veterinarian.
What is “Regular?”
Here is where dogs and people begin to differ. While brushing the dog’s coat and performing teeth care (topics that we will explore in more detail later in this course) should be done on a daily basis, it is not necessary to bathe your dog each and every day. Likewise, ear and eye care and nail clipping are not considered to be tasks that must appear on your daily to-do list. Needless to say, the frequency with which you carry out most of these grooming tasks might increase if your dog competes in shows. Another factor that will likely influence how often you bathe your dog is whether the dog spends the majority of its time indoors or outside; outside dogs will likely need a little more grooming to keep them looking and smelling clean.
Under normal circumstances, a dog only needs to be bathed every few weeks. Occasionally, however, situations may occur that will warrant more frequent baths — such as an encounter with a skunk, an unplanned adventure into muddy areas, or an unfortunate encounter with tar or other messy substances. Dogs with chronic skin conditions may need either more or less frequent baths with specially medicated shampoo. Your veterinarian will provide you with specific instructions.
As for nail-clipping — any time you hear a dog’s nails clicking against the floor as it walks, you can assume that it is time. A good rule of thumb is to check the nails once a week and clip them as needed. As your dog grows older and their nail growth slows, this time frame may extend to every two weeks. We will discuss proper nail-trimming techniques later in this course.
Finally, it is a good idea to check the inside and flaps of your dog’s ears every couple of days to look for any loose soil or other debris. A good cleaning with special solution should be done once a week. Again, we will cover the specifics of this task later in this course.
Cleaning a dog’s eyes, particularly the so-called “tear stains” that appear beneath the eyes of small breed dogs such as poodles, cocker spaniels, and Shih Tzus, should be done on a regular basis as failure to do so can lead to infections and other potentially serious problems. For other breeds, the run-of-the-mill dirt and debris can be dealt with by gently wiping the area with a damp, clean cloth.
The Difference Between the Professionals and You
Based on what we know so far, taking care of a dog’s grooming needs isn’t all that difficult. So then, why do so many people delegate this task to professional groomers?
There are several reasons.
The first reason is one that most of us can relate to: a lack of time, or, in some cases, a perceived lack of time. Rather than spending the time bathing their dog, clipping their coat and trimming their nails, many folks prefer to simply let someone else take care of these tasks and use the time that would have been spent on grooming for something more enjoyable. As mentioned earlier, however, the time you spend grooming your dog presents excellent opportunities for bonding and simply being together; and after all, isn’t that at least part of the reason why you are a dog owner?
Helping you to find the time to groom your dog is beyond the scope of this course and as such is a topic that we won’t address, but we hope that by the time you finish the lessons contained here, you will realize that proper dog grooming isn’t as time consuming as you may initially have thought.
The second reason why people leave their dog’s grooming to the pros is that they simply lack the confidence to take on the job themselves. Here’s where we can help. In this course, you will learn what tools and supplies you will need, and how to complete basic dog grooming tasks, such as bathing, clipping, nail clipping and eye, ear, and dental maintenance. Of course, if you are planning to show your dog and want your dog clipped in a precise manner, you might want to opt for the services of a professional, but if routine dog care and maintenance is what you are after, then we can show you what you need to do and explain how to do it.
On the other side of the coin is the undeniable fact that a professional dog groomer can be expensive. And, while the proponents of the professional groomer will argue that the cash outlay required to obtain the tools needed to take on the job themselves doesn’t make doing it themselves cost effective, the reality is this is a one-time outlay. After this initial expenditure, you will save the per-visit expense of the groomer.
Specialized hair-cuts aside, there is very little that a professional dog groomer does that you can’t learn to do yourself; all you need is the confidence to get started.
When to Call the Pros
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, including those governing dog grooming. During the course of your dog-ownership, you will likely run into at least one scenario that will require the services of a pro, including:
–Unfortunate encounters with sticker bushes , burrs, and other difficult-to-deal-with vegetation can leave your dog with hundreds (or more) stickers, pickers, burrs, or other objects embedded in their fur. Removing these objects takes lots of time and patience; if you are short on either, you should enlist the services of a professional as leaving them in your dog’s fur can cause them a great deal of discomfort.
–Dogs who are not accustomed to regular grooming, such as those obtained from an animal rescue facility or shelter, may feel threatened and as a result will (strongly) resist your grooming efforts and — in some cases — turn on you. Remember, if your pet came from one of these environments, you probably won’t know a great deal about its background and will have no way of knowing how it will react. Rather than risk harm to yourself and even potentially to your new pet, you might be better off leaving the initial grooming sessions to the seasoned professionals. Over time, it is likely that your pet will become accustomed to the routine and eventually, you can take over the grooming duties yourself.
–Clipper Anxiety . Let’s face it: not everyone has the confidence needed to handle a set of hair clippers. This is particularly true when precise lines are needed, such as in the case of poodles. Rather than taking the chance of botching the job, you might be better off turning the task over to a pro.