As a dog owner — and lover — you know so much about your four-legged friends already. You have no problem potty-training a pooch, or finding the healthiest treats for them to nibble on. You’ve already got the doggie bed, the collar, the leash and a basket full of toys.
And then, there’s dog grooming.
It’s not as easy as dropping your pet off at the groomer’s, or taking them outside, grabbing the hose and suds-ing them up. Instead, there are steps you should take to maintain your pup’s hair — and health — before bringing them in for a haircut.
To make things easier, we’ve gathered the following seven tips you should know about grooming your pooch, either in-house or with the help of the pros.
1. Buy a Brush
Even if your dog is going to see the groomer every few weeks, you should still maintain their locks at home in between appointments. The ASPCA recommends brushing as part of a dog’s regular grooming regimen to help protect hair’s health. Brushing helps spread a dog’s natural oils throughout their coat, thus preserving and strengthening their hair.
On top of that, brushing prevents tangles and matting, which your groomer will undoubtedly charge you extra to handle. And, if you’re regularly brushing, you’re more likely to see fleas, ticks and other follicular afflictions. In other words, brush your dog’s hair regularly — it’s worth the extra effort.
2. Inspect Paws and Ears Regularly
Dogs don’t always walk on the grass or the sidewalk. Sometimes, they’ll trot over sticks, pebbles, pinecones and other debris that can stick inside their paws. Their ears can also get dirty easily, so keep an eye on those areas. Your groomer will also inspect them, of course, but it’s good practice to add that to your dog-care routine so your pet’s not in pain between visits to the vet or groomer.
3. Groom Your Pooch ASAP
Your puppy may not look like they need to go to the groomer’s — and they’ll probably have to wait until they have a few of their shots before going. But taking them for a bath ASAP is good practice for both pet owners and groomers. That’s because it allows your dog to feel comfortable in the hands of the groomer from an early age, rather than going to the groomer and having the entire experience feel foreign. For an older pup, that can be quite scary.
It’s also good for you to be sure you find the right groomer early on. As a pet parent, you know you can be nervous about leaving your dog somewhere, so do your research, too.
4. Wash Between Visits
Don’t rely on your groomer to take care of all your dog’s baths. Especially if your dog has long hair, this is an important practice to pick up — failure to home bathe and groom could lead to matting.
Some pet owners might fear drying out their dog’s skin by washing too much, but this is a rare possibility if you’re using the right shampoo. Ask your groomer or vet for help choosing a formula that’ll nourish and cleanse hair without over-drying the skin.
5. Don’t Forget to Smile
Your pet’s grooming doesn’t start and end with their hair. Think about it: You’ll want to keep your pet’s teeth smelling great and in good health, too. The earlier you start brushing your dog’s teeth, the better, but you can begin any time.
You’ll have to pick up a specialty toothbrush, as well as toothpaste formulated specifically for dogs. These tools will make the daily task of brushing your dog’s teeth much easier, as many types of doggie toothpaste come in yummy flavors, like chicken.
6. Be Extra-Careful With Nails
Your dog’s nails may seem tough, but they’re super-sensitive. That’s because there are nerve endings and blood vessels inside — clipping them too short can hurt your pup and make his or her nails bleed. Your best bet is to leave nail clipping up to the pros. If you can’t wait for that, try your hand at filing them down. You can use a regular old nail file, but that could be super time-consuming — groomers use automatic filers, which you can try at home, too.
7. Tell Your Groomer What You Really Want
Finally, your groomer has lots of clients to take in each day, especially if you drop your pet off in the morning. So, be ready to verbalize exactly what you want him or her to do, from your dog’s hairstyle to whether you want their nails clipped. Your groomer will appreciate it, and you will love the result if you decide what you want beforehand.
Get to Grooming
Your pets are part of your family, and you treat them with so much love. With these seven tips, you can take that even further by making sure your dog is safe and happy during their next grooming appointment and beyond.
By Emily Folk / Twitter: @EmilySFolk