ANOTHER trip to the salon – and how much for that wash, blow-dry, and style? Sometimes it can feel like your dog gets more “spa” days than you do! But before you start to think the trips to the groomers are a frivolous extra that your dog could go without, think again. Brushing and shampooing your dogs isn’t just to beautify them (though of course that’s a major benefit) and decrease the offense to our human noses that can come with just a little too much “doggy” smell around the house. Nope, if your dog is looking a bit rough around the edges, chances are he’s feeling bad too.
That messy coat could be disguising hidden tangles and mats underneath, which, as they worsen, actually pull on the skin, stretching it into the mat and sometimes even causing sores and infections. Long-haired and double-coated dogs are particularly at-risk for painful and health-hazardous mats, as burrs, thorns, sharp grasses and even twigs can become lodged in their fur and burrow their way down closer to the skin.
Linebrushing is the key to successfully grooming a long-haired or double-coated dog. First, your dog should be settled comfortably lying down on the floor or on his grooming table. He should be used to being groomed, because this will take a bit of time – and if not, start slowly, use treats, and get him accustomed to laying still for longer and longer periods of time until you are done. Divide your dog into large sections (e.g., head, neck and chest, shoulders, each side, his rear end, his underbelly, and legs), and completely brush out each section before moving on. Within each section, using your brush, part the coat either horizontally across the dog or vertically down his spine. Use this part as the base for your linebrushing. As you brush, make sure you brush all the way to the skin and brush the hair up and away from the part. As you go, you can mist the coat with water or a conditioning spritz as you to help detangle and condition the coat.
The biggest problem professional groomers see is when dogs are brought in because their undercoats are so terribly matted yet their owners will be confused because they say they brush them daily. The reason for all of the mats is because they only get brushed on the surface, and never penetrate to the skin. Linebrushing solves this problem.
Double-coated breeds typically blow their coat twice a year, and if you have one of these dogs with a thick undercoat, chances are you’re going through a heavy shed period right now. It’s even more important to facilitate the coat-blowing process by constant brushing and grooming. Shampooing will loosen all of the dead hair, and being vigilant about daily brushing will ensure that mats are minimized, which can also inhibit the coat-blowing process. For more specifics on managing coat-blowing, check out our blog post on shedding.
If you’re looking to save money on groomers’ fees, it’s not that hard to bathe your dog at home by yourself, provided you have all of your materials prepped and ready to go. Make sure to read our easy-to-follow 4-step DIY guide to dog bathing for more!
Know that every time you spend time with your dog brushing, bathing, or drying him off with a big hug, you’re not just making him look pretty: you’re doing good things for his health too, not to mention bonding with him!