The 9 Most Common Mistakes When Grooming a Dog | Pet ownership is one of the greatest joys on earth. Where else can you get such unconditional love and unlimited affection — even when you’re grumpy, look like death, or are having the absolute worst day imaginable? But owning a dog is a lot of work. Remember those “before you get a dog” books and blogs you read before adopting? Yeah, they weren’t joking.
There’s a lot to this “owning a dog” thing, and it’s more than just housebreaking, regular walks, and teaching Gypsy not to jump up on your mom when she visits. Every breed requires regular grooming, no matter what kind of fur they have or what conditions they’re kept in.
Grooming is more than just a bath; it requires brushing, nail clipping, checking for pests like ear mites and fleas, and cleaning and de-knotting a few areas that she’d probably rather you just left alone. Here are the most common mistakes pet owners make when grooming their dogs.
“This breed doesn’t shed,” they said. Yeah, right! This myth is often spoken of certain terriers, poodles, Shih Tzu, and even Siberian huskies. Lies, all lies! All breeds shed off older hairs to grow new ones, and some breeds, like the cold-loving husky, don’t shed — they molt! Molting involves sloughing off an entire layer of fur undercoating at the end of the cold season. We’re not talking about shedding hairs. We’re talking literal garbage bags full of fluffy undercoating. Longer-haired dogs are adorable, but it’s best to avoid these unless you’re able and willing to invest time in regular brushing. Matted fur can actually affect your dog’s health in several ways. Short-hair breeds usually leave a trail of tiny hairs all over everything if not regularly bathed and brushed.
Like small children, puppies aren’t yet set in their ways, and they can learn early what’s expected of them. If you wait until the dog is older to get her used to regular grooming, you’ll face much more resistance than you will if she’s taught early that baths, brushing, and a bit of prodding, poking, and pulling is just part of life.
If you aren’t yet convinced of the value of professional dog training, attempt to bathe an untrained dog by yourself. Whether big or small, a dog who doesn’t want a bath becomes a formidable foe when soaked with water and oozing slippery bubbles! A basic training course establishes you as the Alpha, or pack leader, but it also teaches your dog simple commands like “sit” and “stay” that are invaluable come grooming time.
Waiting too long between grooming sessions means the grooming process is harder for both you and your dog. It’s harder for you, because they’re not used to it and put up a fight. It’s harder for them, because they’re filthy, matted, and may be overrun with parasites or other problems. Consistency is key, both to keep your dog used to the grooming tools and process, and to keep her healthy and happy. Who wants everyone to avoid their precious pup because she stinks?
Getting your dog to bark, run, or play-fight with the garden hose, hair dryer, electric shaver, or other common tools similar to dog grooming tools teaches them to act up at grooming time instead of submitting to and benefiting from the process. Save the play fights for objects you don’t need them to work with later on.
Many dog owners focus on brushing the more visible areas, like the back, forgetting about the hidden areas, which actually mat worse and cause more pain and problems. The rear is the most common area for mats, followed by the legs and belly. Brush the whole dog regularly and thoroughly. Dogs need brushing before they’re exposed to water, as well as after. Mats that get drenched in a puddle are much harder (and ouchy) to get out than those that remain dry. Brush well before playing in the water, and brush and bathe right after, too.
Human brushes and nail clippers are just not designed for use on dogs. Specialized grooming tools aren’t that expensive, but make an incredible difference on how well they work and how much less painful grooming is for your dog.
Dogs bread for the cold (Malamutes, Huskies, Samoyed, Bernese, Pyrenees, St. Bernard, etc.) are generally miserable in the Alabama summer. It’s tempting to shave them down to keep them cool. But these breeds’ skin doesn’t have the sun protection that short-haired dogs do. Their sun protection is actually in the fur. Shaving your cold-weather-breed dog can cause them to sunburn and make them more susceptible to skin cancer and other sun- and UV-related issues. Let them keep their gorgeous fir and allow them to escape summer’s heat by coming indoors or providing them with cooling options like abundant shade, a plastic swimming pool (with fresh clean water!), and plenty of drinking water. Never use ice in your dog’s water bowl, though, because that can cause health issues like stomach flipping.
Trimming too close hurts! You can nick the skin, causing a painful, bloody sore. Dogs actually have the “quick” of the nail roughly halfway up the nail. This means that cutting too close can cause your dog serious pain, bleeding, and perhaps make her trust you a little less. You can often see the “quick” on dogs with white or light-colored nails and avoid it, but it’s nearly impossible to tell where that sensitive point is on black nails. Trim only the bare minimum, or better yet, trust the grooming and nail clipping to the professionals.
Just Happy Hounds offers full-service dog grooming, and we promise your dog will be kept as comfortable and relaxed as possible during the whole thing. Bring your puppies as early as possible so that they get used to it young. But we can easily help you with your older dogs, too, even rescues with skittish natures or outright phobias.
At Just Happy Hounds, we love ’em like you do and treat your dog as if he or she were our very own! For more information about dog grooming and Just Happy Hounds, please feel free to contact us at 205.777.3699.