Brushing the coat on a regular basis, bathing your dog, removing matted parts with scissors, washing leftovers out of the face with a soft cloth and examining the entire dog (the skin to be exact) for infections and parasites.
This can be quite a challenge in some dogs. Of course, not every dog needs extensive grooming (read our article about dogs that don't need lots of grooming). However, you especially need to take care of St. Bernards, Cocker Spaniels, Havaneses and Fox Terriers. A detailed list is available at the bottom of this article. By the way, grooming isn’t just brushing and bathing your dog, you have to trim its hair und nails, too. Many tend to forget that. And there are many who tend to ignore that, too. Especially the nail trimming part.
Dogs with Double Coats
There are certain dog breeds that develop a base coat in winter in addition to their top coat, e.g. Bernese Mountain Dogs, Newfoundlands, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Havanese, German Shepherds, Pomeranians, Huskies, Shiba Inus. This base coat provides especially good heat insulation in cold weather, but is of course not needed in summer. It’s best to support shedding in spring through special grooming. Otherwise, your pooch may develop skin issues due to too little air circulation or even get heatstroke if temperatures rise too high.
This “double” coat can be removed with a special undercoat rake or a large-toothed undercoat comb. If you take the time to brush out this undercoat, it will pay off: your home will be clean(er) and your dog won’t smell so bad. No bacteria, fungus, parasites, dirt = no smell.
Part of grooming is regularly checking your pet’s ears. They should smell neutral, with a healthy, pink color and no build-up. If your dog’s outer ear is dirty, you can clean it with a soft cloth and a gentle cleansing oil. Never use Q-tips or go deep into the ear. If in doubt, a visit to the veterinarian is always a good idea. Especially if the ear looks inflamed, i.e. red and swollen.
Train Your Dog at an Early Age
You should train your dog to get used to grooming at an early age. Why? It can really stress out a dog that it is not accustomed to a brush driving through its coat, a clattering scissor and the sound of an electric hair trimmer. Try to make your dog feel as comfortable as possible.
Start training with your dog at a puppy stage and keep rewarding it with small treats. Then you will hardly face any problems with your dog refusing to be groomed later on. Don't forget: After all, it's about maintaining his health. An badly groomed coat doesn't just not look ugly, it can quickly lead to bacterial infections and parasites, which are serious health issues.
If you’re not sure how to do groom your dog, you can take your dog to a groomer. But the goal should be that you can do it by yourself. Don't hestiate to ask a dog trainer to help you with this. Step by step he will explain how to make your dog feel fine while being groomed, or how to calm it down when it gets upset. If the coat shall have a special cut (e. g. poodles), the groomer is usually the best choice. It’s best to leave claw cutting to an adult, as it takes some skill to make sure your dog doesn’t get injured.