So now that you've got your dog's teeth, nails, skin, and ears taken care of--because you've been faithfully reading the blog every week, right? (RIGHT? There will be a quiz)--what about his fur? You know: the best part of your dog, besides the wagging tail, the happy face, the slobbery kisses... okay, maybe ONE of the best parts...certainly the part you wanna snuggle up to most.
Surprisingly, there actually is a right way and a wrong way to brush your dog's fur. Here's a quick run-down on what you should know:
--Make sure to provide plenty of treats and praise to make brushing a positive experience for your dog. You don't want to train her to fear or dislike being brushed, so go easy on her until she knows what's up and be certain she feels comfortable.
- Don't brush your dog's skin or drag the bristles to heavily along his skin-- this can cause severe irritation.
- Make sure you're using the right type of brush for your pup's coat: a curved wire slicker or pin brush for long hair (like a Lhasa apso), a regular wire slicker on medium or short fur with a dense undercoat (such as German Shepherds and terriers), and a mitt or rubbery curry with smooth-coated breeds (Labs and beagles).
- Spray on a conditioner or detangler before brushing, and always brush DRY fur-- it's easier to get the tangles out that way.
- Brush in the same way every time-- such as starting with the hindquarters, then moving to the shoulders and belly, finishing with the ears and face. That way your dog knows what to expect--and you won't miss anything!
- Make sure to brush all the way to the bottom of the coat (but again, not the skin). If your dog has a thick coat or an undercoat, just brushing the top can allow mats and knots to form underneath.
- If a knot or mat is giving you a lot of trouble, just clip it out--it's not worth hurting your dog or upsetting him! It'll grow back!
And how often should you brush? It depends. If your dog has short fur, once a week maximum is probably fine. Longer fur or fur with an undercoat can get more matted or "packed" with that downy under-fur and so needs to be brushed more carefully and often. Ask your vet for her recommendation.
And hey — there's a plus side to all this work! Going over your pet's body with a fine tooth comb (sorry, couldn't resist the pun) means you're well aware of any growths, changes, or abnormalities and can seek help for them sooner. And, this can be a fun bonding time for you and your dog, one that she loves because it means attention and treats, and one you love because you can accept your award for being The World's Most Conscientious Dog Owner Ever. Seriously — we'd totally give it to you.