Every dog needs brushing at some point. Long-haired breeds stay cleanest with daily brushing, while shorter haired breeds others will be fine with weekly or biweekly sessions. Brushing your dog regularly helps to keep the coat looking good and reduces the amount of fur you have to deal with on your car seats and furniture. Besides, it distributes the natural oils on the dog’s fur to keep the coat looking healthy and smooth.
Brushing a dog is simple: you just have to understand the type of coat your dog has to determine how often you have to brush and the type of brush to use.
Some must-have tools to keep in your grooming arsenal are a pin brush, a bristle brush, comb, mat and tangle remover. Alternatively, you can use a dog groomer, but this can become very expensive over your dogs lifetime.
In this article we run through our top tips on how to brush your dog’s hair at home.
Determine the Right Brush to Use
There are different types of brushes to use depending on your dog’s hair type. Choosing the right one makes it easier for you and comfortable for your furry friend. Here are the three types of dog hair and the brush to use for each.
- Long-haired breeds like Tibetan Terriers and collies need to be brushed weekly – a pin brush works great for these breeds because it removes loose hair without pain, and the bristles are long enough to clean the dog’s undercoat.
- Short-coated digs like greyhounds and Labrador retrievers don’t require frequent brushing because they don’t easily get mats – a rubber brush works great because they bring dirt and loose hair on the surface. Often, the dog will think you’re petting them and not grooming. You can also use a soft slicker brush or natural-brush bristle.
- Very short-haired breeds like terriers and dachshunds work well with a slicker brush because it can remove loose fur and dirt. After the slicker brush, you can then use a metal comb to tame the fur.
Start with teaching a command
When brushing your dogs hair (particularly for longer haired breeds), you will need them to stand still so that you can groom their whole coat. From an early age it is recommended to try to train your dog to stand on command. For some dogs, this will be easier than others, but we use a simple ‘stand’ command, and praise our dog during grooming.
Brush Down and Out
The dog’s coat grows downwards and out. As a result, dogs dislike it when you brush it backwards or outwards. That’s why you need to brush in a down-and-out motion, holding the brush at an angle. Aim to keep the brush perpendicular to the dog and don’t pull upwards. Be gentle and avoid being in a hurry, or your dog will learn not to like the grooming sessions.
Start at the Top of the Coat
You don’t brush the dog’s neck after you’ve brushed the rump or midsection. If you brush the dog from the bottom before the upper side, the bottom will likely be full of hair again. Therefore, you should always start from the neck and then head in the direction of the coat. It will prevent loose hairs from forming in the areas you’ve already brushed.
Use a Mat Spray and Coat Conditioner
You can cut mats with scissors, but you might end up cutting too much hair. Worse yet, cutting mats that are too close can be painful for the dog. To avoid this, apply an all-natural coat conditioner or mat spray and leave the mat for some minutes. Then, proceed with a mat-splitting tool or a wide-toothed comb to loosen the tangle. Be sure to also check for mats behind the ears, under the limbs and underneath the collar. A good mat spray saves you the need to cut the risky mats or check with a groomer.
Most owners won’t groom their dogs when they are young, probably because young dogs rarely need it. However, you can start training your dog early to prevent potential resistance when they get older.
Many dogs won’t like the grooming at first, but they will calm down with time and even begin to enjoy the routine. Be generous with treats and commands when brushing the dog until they become used to the process.
Make the Sessions Shorter
Dogs do well with short grooming sessions. If your dog requires the use of more than one brush, you can try spreading out the grooming over a few sessions.
Perhaps you can brush one side today and the other tomorrow. Just ensure you brush everywhere in the appropriate amount.
Brush Before and After Bath
Many owners ask, “What’s the best time to brush my dog?” Well, some suggest before bath while others after, but we don’t recommend either. Brush the dog before removing excess fur before it clogs the tub drain. Besides, it allows the shampoo to get deeper into the undercoat.
The one after the bath is also necessary because it can help remove the hair the shampoo loosened. Besides, it will prevent matting which is common when the dog dries.
If you aren’t grooming the dog enough, you can tell by the presence of loose fur and mats. So, how do you tell if you are overgrooming? It’s hard unless you can identify a few signs. Too much brushing irritates, leaving the dog scratching and chewing some spots. Over time, it can cause lesions and potential secondary irritation. Besides, over brushing strips them of their essential hair oils, leaving the coat dry and brittle.
Brushing is an essential part of a dog’s grooming routine and will help keep them looking good and healthy. Although some level of skill is required to do this, it’s easy to do it yourself if you have the right tools. Still, there’s no shame in taking your dog to a groomer if you can’t because your dog doesn’t like it. Some groomers are experienced at sweet-talking even the most scared dogs.