Grooming 101: Medium/Long hair care
Pet parents who have dogs with medium to long hair often have a harder time with grooming in-between professional visits. Unlike short haired dogs, dogs with longer hair often need weekly to daily brushing to ensure any tangles or knots don’t turn into mats. Also many dogs that are kept in their breed trims, will need daily brushing to ensure the long parts of their coat do not get matted.
With grooming long haired dogs at home, the hair cutting/use of any clippers or scissors is best left to the professionals who are trained to use these tools correctly and have the proper means of holding and restraining your dog while on the grooming table. Using grooming tools improperly can cause harm or injury to your dog, therefore these at home tips are not substitute for professional grooming visits.
Again, like bathing and caring for a short haired dog be sure your dog can fit in your bathtub, with enough room to rince them off. When buying a shampoo and conditioner depending on your dog’s needs depends on what shampoo you’ll want to use. However, it is strongly recommended you get a conditioner when bathing your longer haired dog at home. The use of conditioner will not only help your pets skin, but it ill also help with detangling/after bath brushing. If your dog has skin allergies or sensitivities, you will probably need to take a visit to your veterinarian and get a specialty shampoo and conditioner. If your dog does not have these issues, and you are just looking to get them clean and smelling good: read product reviews, ask your groomer and other pet parents what they like and what works well for them. I have always liked the Pet Head brand of shampoos and conditioners for my dogs. They clean and moisturize, rinse out completely and don’t leave residue, and they smell great even after the bath.
Brushes: For longer haired dogs you’ll need a couple of different brushes and combs to ensure your dog is completely detangled and brushed out before and after the bath.
- a soft slicker brush for general brushing out of the coat, and it will also help loosen up and get rid of shedding hair.
- a greyhound style comb for any small tangles/sensitive areas where a brush will not work or cause skin irritation. Note: Only use the comb for very small tangles that are not tight to the skin. In many cases if you try to comb out a tight mat that is close to the skin, you run the risk of pulling to card and causing skin irritation or tearing.
- a FURminator brush is a great tool for double coated shedding dogs. Removing as much undercoat as possible before the bath will make washing and drying take less time and will make it easier for both you and your dog. Note: The use of a FURminator brush is meant to help loosen undercoat for double coated dogs, so it is not appropriate for every dog.
If you have a question about what kind of brush to use, ask your groomer or your veterinarian.
Detangle Spray: Great for after bath brushing, and many come with great scents like Pet Head Fur Ball detangle spray.
Eye Wash: Even the most careful of pet bathers needs to have this on hand, even if you are using tearless shampoo. Be sure to keep this within arms reach during the bath just in case your dog gets soap in it’s eyes. This will also help rinse out any hair that gets into the eyes during the bath as well.
Bath Mat: This is optional, if you have one around the house or already in the bathtub you are planning to use it can help your dog keep their footing. If not, your dog may slip around a little but it’s not essential.
Towels: You’ll want at least two bath towels to dry your dog with , and possibly more to cover your floor with for after the bath. The only thing I have learned the bigger the towel, the better.
Before you get your dog in your tub or sink, it is important that they are brushed and free of tangles. Any tangles or mats that are left in your dogs coat when they get wet will become bigger, more tangled and much harder to get out of your dogs coat. While brushing your dog if you come across any matting or tangles you can’t get out, call your groomer. Most groomers will offer mat removal or brushing services for a very small fee.
The Bath: Your dog will more than likely not want to be in the tub. If you have a larger dog, you will probably need a second set of hands to help you get the dog in and out of the tub, and to keep them in the tub during the bath. Be sure you and (if needed) your help are wearing clothes you don’t mind getting wet, dirty and furry. Be sure your water is lukewarm, not too hot or too cold: dog skin is different from ours and hot water can burn dogs more easily and dogs don’t enjoy being cold as much as we do, avoid using cold water or outdoor hose water. Bath water should never be hotter than what you’d run for a human baby. Keep it a little cooler for large-breed dogs, who can easily overheat.
Be gentle around the face and any sensitive areas and remember if you do get any soap or debris in the eyes to use your eye wash. Once your dog has been bathed and rinsed, it’s time to dry. Towel dry your dog as much as possible and begin to brush them out with your soft slicker brush, lightly spray with your detangle spray to help with any small tangles you encounter. If your dog does not mind loud noises dry them on the cool or lowest heat setting with a hair dryer. The more dry your dog, the less ‘wet dog smell’ later.
Also, your dog will more than likely run around the house after the bath. So after the bath and they are as dry as you can get them.. be prepared.
Photo Courtesy: Ryan R. Hughes
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