My Dog Hates Brushing
Does your dog have a curly or long coat in need of regular maintenance, but they just hate being brushed? Do they run for the hills every time you brandish the brush, or is it just nigh on impossible to get them to sit still for it?
If you have a dog with a long, thick or curly coat, grooming them regularly is absolutely non negotiable for their health and comfort. Not keeping on top of their coat's needs can be painful, unhygienic and detrimental to their skin health, causing a variety of issues and some unhappy puppies.
You should be brushing your dog on a daily basis, paying close attention to problem areas such as on and behind ears, beards, armpits and hind quarters, wherever your dog wears a collar or harness, or areas which are particularly long or prone to matting on your dog. If you bathe them at home, brushing them when wet or with a detangling spray is a great way to keep track of their coat condition and to spot potential matts as they appear.
So what happens when your dog hates bring brushed and you can't keep up with their grooming? A key mistake is trying to brush all over all at once. Little and often is key - focus on one area at a time to decrease the likelihood of your dog getting agitated, bored or uncomfortable with persistent brushing. Additionally, brushing generally all over your dog's body is unlikely to do much, you will need to make sure you're getting from root to tip, particularly in the tough to reach spots.
Which brush to use is another conundrum. Brushes available at pet stores can be generic and far reaching - there is no "one size fits all" brush for all dogs' coats. Your groomer can use up to 4 different brushes in one groom, from detangling to separating, fluffing and finishing, each with their own role and in specific order.
If you're struggling to brush your dog at all, and it's becoming dangerous for either or both of you, then it's a good idea to hand things over to the professionals. Booking your dog in for a bath between full grooms is a great way of making sure their coat is in good shape, as well as an opportunity for your groomer to tackle matts as they start to form, rather then when it's too late.
When matts are deep rooted and go for a long time without any attention, there is often very little option but to shave their coat off. Your groomer will dematt their coat as far as is possible with specialised tools in localised areas. The process, however, is intensive, and can be tough on your dog's skin, involving a lot of brushing, which can pull on hair and cause your dog pain or their skin serious irritation. Once matts are well established, they can be very close to the skin as the hair knots and twists tighter together, and it can be impossible to detangle them without potentially hurting your dog. Your groomer will be able to assess the severity of their matting, and ascertain the best and safest way to proceed.
MATTING 101: WHAT NOT TO DO
DO NOT scrub your wet dog with a towel. Rubbing your dog vigorously all over with a towel is their coat's worst nightmare, particularly if you have not used professional grade and hair type appropriate products for their home bath (or worse, if it's just following a rainy or muddy walk!) You are knotting and tangling their hair for them! DO place a towel over your dog and gently scrunch it all over , squeezing water out of their coat softly as you go and keeping their curls separated.
DO NOT leave mud or dirt in their coat. Allowing mud and dirt to dry in to your dog's coat with the hope of it drying and crumbling away is another no no - you do not have a Labrador! Clumps of dirt can stick hairs together, and be a hot bed for knots and matts.
DO give them a wash - so long as you use the right products and dry them correctly!
DO NOT attempt to cut out their matts. If your groomer doesn't use scissors to lop out matts, why would you try a DIY at home? Matts close to the skin will be incredibly dangerous to attempt cutting, with the likelihood of you cutting your dog instead very high.
DO NOT brush and brush and brush and brush a matt. Repetitive brushing in one area can damage their skin and leave them with "brush burn" - raw, cut or aggravated skin which can go unnoticed under hair, and if your dog begins to lick and chew at the area in discomfort it becomes a breeding ground for infection.
DO NOT let their hair get too long. Understandably, curly coated parents adore their dog's fluffy 'do, but if you want to keep them curly, you have to keep them groomed. Your long coated dog needs a full groom every 6-8 weeks, with regular baths and brushes in-between. The longer your dog's coat grows, the less manageable and the more likely a total shave off will be when it comes to the crunch.
DO NOT expect your groomer to solve your lack of maintenance. As above, your groomer will remove all matts they are able to which it is safe for your dog and their skin. If your dog arrives having not been brushed since their last groom many weeks ago, you must be prepared that their coat might need a short cut to restart their curls and save their coat. Your groomer will always put your dog's health and wellbeing first.