Thursday, February 4, 2010

How to Groom a Long Haired Dog

By Suzanne Alicie

You know how pretty your long haired dog is after going to the groomer, all smooth and fluffy with no snarls or mats? Wouldn’t you like for your favorite canine to look that put together all the time? It’s actually quite easy to groom your long haired dog yourself.

Brushing - A long haired dog needs to be brushed every day. The brushing not only clears out tangles to prevent matting, but also invigorates their skin and promotes healthy coats. Of course, with a long haired dog your main thought is always the snarls and tangles, and removing the things that get picked up or caught in the long fur when they are outside. Regular brushing makes it easier to handle the rest of the grooming steps for a long haired breed.

Bathing - When it comes to bathing a long haired dog, the biggest challenges come from keeping the long fur from tangling, and scrubbing down to the skin. The first time you bathe your long haired dog you may be surprised to see just how small he really is.

Here are a few bathing tips to keep from causing yourself more work:

• Always work from the top down when bathing a long haired breed. This means aiming the water in a downward motion and working dog shampoo through from top to bottom.
• Use your fingers to gently comb through the hair while you work the shampoo in. This helps release debris and other items collected by the long hair.
• Apply a conditioner or cream rinse. You can purchase a special dog conditioner or you can use a simple detangling and moisturizing conditioner such as Suave which will probably be more inexpensive.
• Dry a long haired breed by using a large absorbent towel and wrapping it around the dog to soak up excess water. Of course your dog is going to do the shake, which will lift the fur and begin to separate it.

Drying your long haired breed can be done by allowing them to air dry or by using a blow dryer. At my house the dogs really dislike the noise of a dryer so I spread a blanket for them to lay on near a heat vent or the clothes dryer. After a couple of hours they are dry and ready to proceed with the next step of grooming. This way I also have plenty of time to clean up after the bath and prepare my supplies for the next part.

Trimming - Long haired breeds may occasionally need the hair around their foot pads and claws trimmed. The hair can get long and cause the dog to lose traction and slide on a hard floor. A personal trimmer works wonders around dog pads, and while the noise may annoy the dog, you don’t have to worry about cutting the dog. This is also the time to trim your dog’s nails if they need it. Use a sharp clipper and avoid cutting too short. If possible use a file to smooth the nail as well as to make sure your dog doesn’t accidentally hurt himself while scratching.

Preventative Measures - The ideal time to clean your dogs ears, apply flea and tick medication and any skin treatments is after the dog is dry, but before you brush him. The flea and tick meds that are applied straight down the dog’s spine are more evenly dispersed when you brush after applying. Ear cleaning is a simple procedure and if done regularly will prevent ear mites, hair matting in the ears, and ear infections.

To clean a long haired dog’s ears use a cotton ball soaked in witch hazel to swab gently inside, without going deep into the ear canal. Be sure to clean all the nooks and crannies on the dog’s ear as these areas are where wax builds up and mites hide.

Fluffing - Once you have taken care of all the basic grooming steps now you get the fun of making your long haired dog look “show ready.” Brush the dog with a detangling brush first to make sure you won’t pull the hair when you move to the fluffing part of the job. Use a soft bristled brush to brush your dog from the bottom up. This will lift the roots and give your dog the full effect of long hair. Once you have brushed all the hair in the wrong direction start at the feet and brush to direct the hair back down while retaining the fluffiness. Continue brushing until your long haired dog is fluffy, tangle free and looks just as beautiful as when a professional groomer does the job.

Not only is grooming your long haired dog yourself fun, it can be much more convenient than loading up the dog and taking him to the groomer, as well as more cost effective.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

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