With long coat comes great responsibility. Brush you must! But how you ask?
Updated: Aug 6, 2020
(Me and my beloved Toby)
Some years ago, before i became a professional dog groomer, my family owned a very handsome Yorkshire Terrier called Toby. Toby was black and tan with a beautifully flowing long coat. He was always in a breed standard cut and he looked fabulous after every groom, however this wasn't always this way!
When Toby was a puppy we did not know the importance of grooming in general. We made sure he was bathed and always clean, we even had all the right brushes! We just simply weren't clued up on how to use all these fabulous tools we just purchased. All the gear no idea springs to mind!
The day came for his first grooming appointment and we were all so excited. We had images in our heads of the perfect show dog walking back out...oh how wrong we were. My dad discussed with the groomer before hand how he just wanted a light tidy up, no clipping. The groomer paused for a moment, took a comb from out of her pocket, and showed my dad why this was not possible. "Toby is matted Mr Moore, he needs to be clipped smooth and short" the groomer informed.
"can you not just give him a bath and brush the Matt's out?" my dad questioned. "No Mr Moore, I'm afraid brushing Matt's out can be quite uncomfortable for your puppy and may cause him to have anxiety's about grooming in the future" replied the groomer.
My dad nodded "okay then, do what you need to" and handed her our little bundle of fluff. Two hours whizzed by and me and my mom went to go and collect our Toby. "Hi i'v come to collect my puppy, Toby" my mom greeted, the groomer stopped what she was doing and went to get him.
As soon as my mom saw Toby she went white as a sheet. She had not quite realized just how short Toby was going to be after his pamper! My mom paid the groomer, scooped up our puppy and left doing the good old walk of shame.
Now at the time this happened we were all mortified! We were upset that our little puppy had been clipped all the way back, with all of his puppy fur gone. However looking back now i understand that what happened to Toby was our own fault and was the kindest way in order to De-matt him! You see...when you have a long coated dog brushing is of high importance! A lack of brushing and combing can lead to knots forming, which over time will start to form Matt's!
Matt's, especially when tight to the skin, can be incredibly hard to brush out, and can be quite painful for your pup! This is why the best and safest way to remove them is by clipping them out. This does mean that your dog will have very short hair for some time, but isn't it better for them to look shorter but feel comfortable? Here at the Signature Stylist whilst we aim to have every dog looking fabulous but our main goal is to make sure they FEEL fabulous! Which is why we refuse to brush matting out of our customers dogs and opt for the more humane way of matt removal- clipping! So in order for your dog to have his Signature Style of choice, and to feel fabulous between grooms it is important that regular coat maintenance is done at home. But what does this involve exactly? Bellow is our Signature Stylists own recipe for a knot free coat!
Brush- A slicker brush is a suitable brush for most long coat types, however for a more personal recommendation on the right brush for your dogs coat please do not hesitate to ask one of our stylists in store.
Comb- There are many combs our there all with their own purpose! You will generally find a suitable comb at your local pet store fit for purpose however please feel free to ask our stylists to give you their own recommendation on the best comb for your dogs coat type.
Coat conditioning spray- brushing your dogs coat when dry can cause damage to the hair itself! This is why we recommend a good quality coat conditioning spray to be used on the coat before/whilst brushing takes place. This will help to protect the hair whilst conditioning it. Please as our stylists who will be able to recommend the best coat spray for your dogs coat type.
It's all in the technique!
Keeping your dog knot free at all times can be a hard but rewarding task. Not only will your pup be super happy and feel comfortable having a knot free coat, but by grooming your own dog you will gain more of a bond together!
Like with most tasks in life it can be a daunting idea to begin with for not just you but also your pup! If your dog/puppy is not used to being regular grooming at home than it can be quite scary for them to begin me. Which is why we suggest that you take it slow! Introduce your dog to all of the equipment you are going to be using first, making sure that they are okay with being around this equipment. You may want to use a clicker and treats to help your dog to understand that with brushing comes great reward! If you do not wish to use treats you can use things such as toys. Each time that your dog opts to be in your space with the grooming equipment give them plenty of praise! Some dogs may take longer to get used to this then others, these dogs should be given plenty of time over a course of days/weeks to get used to the grooming equipment. Remember we will always be here for free demonstrations and help/advice, we are always just a phone call away.
Once your dog is used to the equipment, spray the coat conditioner into your dogs coat generously, this will aid the brush to go through the hair smoothly and protect the hair follicle from damage which could be caused by dry brushing. Now pick a section to start with. I find it is best to go from the back forwards. This is because your dog may find it more unsettling to start with the face/front area. However you know your dog best! Whichever way you think will be more comfortable for them (as long as done safely), whether that be starting with the legs or starting with their body, as long as all parts of the coat are brushed regularly the order in which does is not of importance.
The best way to brush the coat is to line brush the coat. This is brushing from the root of the hair all the way up to the top. Use your hands to gently separate the hair and brush outwards with your slicker brush. Make sure whilst you are brushing your pay particular attention to the common problem areas where knots are more likely to form. These include places such as: The armpit, around the collar/harness area, under the groin, behind the ear and around the back/tail area. If you find a knot that is particularly hard to get out or an area that is heavily matted then please do not attempt to remove this. Attempting to remove tight matting can be painful and stressful for your dog. Instead please ask your groomer for advice on the best way for removal, we are always happy to help!
Once your dogs coat has been brushed through it is time to pick up your comb and do one final check over! Make sure you check the main problem areas listed above. Use your comb all through the coat an if everything looks good give your puppy a super snuggle and let them know they did good!
Safety, safety, safety
At the Signature Stylist safety is our number one priority whilst grooming and here are a few safety tips for you and your pup so you can enjoy stress free, safe grooming at home between their regular grooms:
Take it slow- As said above every dog is an individual and so should be treated like one! not every dog will get used to home grooming straight away and so introduction and desensitization to the equipment you will be using is a must. Forcing your dog to have brushing done when they are disinterested or simply scared can result in many adverse reactions such as: fear aggression, anxiety, high stress levels. Instead take it at there speed with a lot of praise for good behavior! Do not get disheartened if it does not go right straight away, Rome was not built in a day and if it take days, weeks or even months for your dog to become groom happy this is okay! Remember your stylist is always on hand to help you.
Do not over brush- Over brushing in the same area too much can cause what is known as slicker burn/brush burn. This can cause a pink/red rash to form in the area where the slicker brush may have been used too forcefully or used too much. Make sure before you use a slicker brush for the first time that you use the slicker brush on the back of your own hand first! Check for what pressure feels right. Do not press down hard with your slicker brush, use gentle movements whilst brushing the coat to keep brush burn at bay! If you do however accidentally cause some slight brush burn on your dog you may want to spray some luciellen on the area of skin affected which will help to calm the rash down and reduce itching. If the rash persists or gets any worse you should contact your vet.
Restraint equipment- If you are grooming your dog on any table then you should have them safely restrained using equipment such as a neck loose. A neck loose helps to keep the dog secured to the table encase they were to slip from the table keeping them safe! Even though you are using safety equipment to keep them from falling from the table you should always have one hand kept on your dog whilst grooming from a table in order to help them keep steady and remain on the table. Remember at home your dog may be better on either a professional grooming table, or on the floor/sofa with yourself, whatever works best for you and your dog!
Recommended professional grooming schedule
All dogs should have a regular grooming schedule however a grooming schedule for long coated breeds compared to say smooth coated breeds would be very different. Here is a rough guide:
Long coated breed- in a short and smooth clip- every 8-12 weeks, medium cut- every 6-8 weeks, in a long or breed standard cut- every 4-6 weeks
Smooth coated breeds- every 8-12 weeks
Double coated breeds- Short- every 8-12 weeks, Long-every 6-8 weeks
Your dog will be able to last slightly longer between grooms if you keep up with their daily coat maintenance grooming at home. If you are short of time then please consider using our midway grooms service! This includes a bath and brush, nails, ears and a trim around the bottom of the feet and face area. This service can help you between grooms to keep your dog knot free.
Style VS Lifestyle
one last thing to consider about your dogs general grooming is what style is right for your lifestyle and your dogs lifestyle! If you and your pup like to go on wondrous adventures and long walks, spending most of your time outdoors then you may wish to pick a shorter cut that is easier to manage. This will cut down your guys grooming time giving you both more time outdoors to do the things you both love! Longer cuts such as a Bichon Frise show standard cuts takes more time and more regular brushing in order to keep the coat in a good condition.
You must also consider your dogs age when choosing a style. An older dog may not suit having a breed standard groom as they may not be able to stand for long enough to have the style done. This is where a comfort groom should be opted for where just what is necessary is done so the dog is not on the table for longer than needed. This may involve clipping shorter. This will also mean less brushing at home and more time for you guys to snuggle!
We offer a free consultation to all of our customers where we invite you to come and ask questions (in person or over the phone) about our services and which one is right for your dog. When your dog comes for there first groom your stylist will discuss with you your requirements for their groom and will work with you in order to find your dog their own signature style.