Three Common Grooming Mistakes Dog Owners Make

November 5, 2014

grooming mapleBy Langley Cornwell

We live on the coast of South Carolina. If you are familiar with this area, you may have become acquainted with pluff mud (aka plough mud), a slippery, oozy, brownish, grayish, viscous sucking mud. This slimy mud, which is abundant around our tidal flats and salt marshes, has an accompanying aroma that is like nothing I’ve ever smelled before. I’m not sure I can accurately describe the smell in words but I can tell you this, it’s nearly impossible to wash out of dog fur. The mud itself takes a firm hand and lots of elbow grease to remove, but that smell has a lingering quality that you almost have to get used to. I often say our dogs smell like a combination of popcorn and pluff mud.

Our dogs get into pluff mud a lot. One of our favorite places to let them run is deep in a small island not far from our house. Of course the island is rife with the stuff and our dogs love to romp through it. Not to digress too far off topic, but you have to be careful around pluff mud because you can sink into it and get stuck. So can dogs. Just saying.

Every time we take the pups for off-leash playtime, we know we’re going to have a long, intense grooming session afterwards. Fortunately, they are used to the routine and understand that “if you want to play, you’ve got to pay” so they stand by patiently as we soap them up and wash them down.

If you are a new dog owner or your dog has recently discovered the joys of pluff mud (or skunk chasing or stink rolling, etc.), here are three grooming mistakes to avoid.

Delayed Introduction

grooming ginneWhether you have a 12-week old puppy or a six year old rescue dog, immediately get them used to being handled in places where you (or a groomer) will have to touch them. Even before you clip their toenails, gently hold their paws and touch all of their toes. Lift their ears and gently stroke around their ear canal. Get in the habit of wiping their faces with a cloth, brushing their coat, opening their mouths and cleaning their teeth.

At our house, we have short-haired dogs and do most of our grooming in the backyard. As such, we had to gradually get our pups used to the sound and pressure of water coming through a hose. Now they are so used to it that, even though it takes some time and muscle to get them clean, they stand patiently and let us do what’s necessary.

Whether you plan to groom the dog yourself or take him to a groomer, it’s key to introduce him to the concepts as early as possible. With a calm manner, a firm but patient approach and loads of CANIDAE treats, your dog should get used to the process quickly.

Lack of Consistency

Once your dog gets used to grooming procedures, don’t give him a chance to forget what he’s learned. Get in a routine of brushing your dog’s coat daily, whether he needs it or not. For long-haired dogs, consistency is the key to keeping matted fur in check, but daily brushings are beneficial for shorter-haired dogs too.

Groom your dog year round. Some people think their dog needs extra fur to keep warm during winter months, so they skip the daily brushings. This choice may lead to tangles and mats that get so tight they’re painful and must be cut out. When that happens, your dog’s good insulating coat is compromised. Daily brushings will keep this from happening.

Brushing your dog daily is good for the health of his skin and his fur growth. Moreover, it provides an opportunity for a wonderful bonding experience.

grooming taroIncomplete Event

If you choose to groom the dog yourself instead of taking him to a groomer, make sure to be thorough. It’s easy to brush your dog’s back and sides, but you need to remember to also tend to trickier areas like his tail, butt, belly and face. Clean inside his ears and his teeth too.

If you feel unsure of yourself, ask your groomer or veterinarian for advice on the method and tools that best suit your pup. Soon, it will become second nature to you and your dog.

Do you groom your own dog? What other common mistakes have you run into?

Top photo by maplegirlie/Flickr
Middle photo by ginnerobot/flickr
Bottom photo by Taro the Shiba Inu/Flickr

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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