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Grooming Your Dog: When, What and How

Grooming your dog is a very important to her general health and well-being. It should never be considered a chore, but rather as a great way to spend quality time together. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Start Early. The sooner you establish a grooming routine with your dog, the better. However, if you've adopted an older dog, you can establish a routine, it just may take a bit more time to get her used to it.

Establish a Routine. It may take a few tries before your dog gets used to the grooming process. Your success rate for establishing a grooming routine will depend on your patience and your dog's state of relaxation. In other words, don't pick up a brush when your dog is expecting you to grab the leash and take her to the dog park.

Find the Right Spot. It is important to identify an area where you can routinely groom your dog. It could be outside on the lawn, in the laundry room, the garage, or the bathroom.

Set Up a Grooming Calendar. There's more to grooming your dog than simply brushing. Set up a grooming calendar to help you keep track of your dog's grooming maintenance schedule. The schedule should include brushing, nail trimming, ear cleaning and bathing.


Daily or Weekly:

  • Brushing is very important to your dog's regular coat maintenance. How often you should brush will depend on your dog's coat type, which goes hand in hand with the amount she regularly sheds. Brushing keeps your dog's coat in good condition by removing dirt, spreading the natural oils on the skin throughout the coat and preventing the coat from tangling and matting.
  • Dogs with smooth, short coats need only to be brushed once a week. Dogs with short, dense fur that's prone to matting need to be brushed every few days. Dogs with long, silky hair require daily attention.
  • This is a very basic guideline as there are a lot of different coat types such as double-coated, curly- and wavy-coated, wire-coated and corded. The next time you're at the groomer or the veterinarian, ask for some expert advice on how to properly care for your dog's coat, as well as what tools you should have on hand to do the job.

Weekly:

  • Brush your dog's teeth a minimum of once per week. Also check her gums.
  • Wipe out any matter from the corners of her eyes.
  • Wipe her ears. If your dog has long, floppy ears, like a Cocker Spaniel, your veterinarian may recommend adding an ear wash to your regular grooming.

Monthly:

  • Wash your dog once a month, or give her a full-body wipe down with specially formulated cleaning wipes.
  • Trim your dog's nails.
  • Re-apply flea and tick topical treatments as directed (some last longer than one month).
  • If you are capable of expressing your dog's anal sacs, add this to your monthly checklist. If not, be sure to have it done professionally.

If you dog has a very busy social life and goes hiking with you or swimming at the beach, you'll need to adjust her grooming schedule to include a brush or bath after every outing.

Use each grooming session as an opportunity to look for any lumps and bumps on your dog's skin. Also look for skin irritations and evidence of fleas or ticks.

Be Flexible. If your dog is restless, don't force the issue. Simply reschedule. And remember to end every grooming session, whether it's just a brushing or the complete spa works, a hug and a treat.