Learning To Brush Your Dog

While burrs, foxtails, fleas and ticks are the bane of the country dog…. over bathing, coat dryness and neglect of a pet’s coat befall the city pet.  But, good news!  Both can benefit from a regimen of brushing and combing.

When that cute little puppy arrived at your home, you probably went to your local department store and purchased a new dish, bed, collar and possible a brush and comb.  Although the bed, dish and collar are still in use the comb and brush are probably gathering dust in some closet. It may not be your fault that your first attempts at combing and brushing were unsuccessful.  It could be that you didn’t know the fine points of handling your pet during brushing.  Or more likely you purchased inappropriate equipment making your efforts unfruitful and tiresome.


Good Equipment is the Key…

Poor equipment is often the reason pet owners fail to give their pet’s once or twice weekly brushings.  For the success in coat maintenance, throw out your worn brush with bent or missing needles.  A gentle slicker brush is needed for basic grooming.  These brushes contain hundreds of short bent wires mounted in a firm rubber backing. A good quality brush won’t hurt your pet. Another essential piece of equipment is the comb.  A solid metal comb with combination coarse and medium teeth will do nicely. Buy your equipment from a pet care professional. You aren’t likely to find the right kind of equipment in your local department store.


Brushing for Pets Health…

Brushing is essential to a healthy glowing coat.  It eliminates mats and tangles, removes dead hair, dirt, burrs and distributes the natural oils, producing a healthy skin tone.


The Right Work Surface…

Where should you work on your pet?  The floor is your pet’s playground and should be used as a last resort. An old table or the top of your washer or dryer will offer a solid surface ad a comfortable working height for you. An old rubber bath mat provides a non-slip surface for our pet.  Working on a surface like this teaches your pet that you are serious about its care. Plus, it resembles the conditions that your pert encounters in the grooming shop.


Controlling your Pet…

You must have a serious attitude while working on your pet.  A firm “NO” should suffice when your pet bites at the brush or comb, or tries to charm you with playful antics.

Begin by working in one area.  Don’t allow your pet to twist and turn as you “hit or miss” in your brushing attempts. Your pet will definitely win at the game.  And you’ll exhaust yourself while vowing to never “brush” again.  Firmness counts.


Mats, Tangles and Burrs…

Mats, tangles and burrs should be worked in small sections and separated with your fingers if necessary.  Begin with the coarse teeth of the comb.  After the coarse teeth slide through an area of fur, then use the medium teeth to finish. Anti-static grooming sprays, coat conditioners and powders can reduce coat breakage; however, use these items with caution around the eyes.  Serious mats are best left to the groomer’s expertise.


The Brushing Begins…

Take your pet’s head in your hand and begin by gently, but thoroughly; combine the whiskers, ears, and head.  Look your pet in the eye and say a firm “NO” if it begins to misbehave. Through this exchange you can gain rapport with your pet that will last through the brushing session.

Now, move to the legs.  The legs are probably the most neglected part of the home grooming process.  Alternate the comb and brush operation so you can locate the little snarls that quickly turn into big ones.

Brush up or down, but work in small sections and work down to the skin.  A serious fault of pet owner grooming is overworking the top coat and neglecting the hair nearest the skin. Lift the leg towards you to get at the inner leg.  Proceed to the tail and back.



Terriers and long-coated breeds should be finished by combing in the direction of hair growth.  A fuller appearance can be achieved on the Poodle, Bichon and Bedlington by brushing against the hair growth.


What’s The Alternative…

Poor coat condition usually results in a shorter clip on your pert and a larger grooming bill.  If you find that you just don’t have the time or desire to brush your pet, more frequent professional grooming is recommended to prevent matting and tangling.

A shorter, more manageable clip on your pet may be another alternative.  Your professional groomer will be able to assist you in making the best decision for you and your pet.  (See Chart on Bottom of page)


How often should my pet be groomed?

The duration of time between professional grooming can vary greatly between dogs of the same breed.  Coat condition, hair type, density, and climate are just some of the variables.  A lot depends on how much home grooming you are willing to offer to your pet.

Here are some guidelines suggested by grooming authorities.  Your professional groomer can be more specific about your pet.  If you don’t brush and comb regularly, choose the earlier time frame.



Afghan                                                              4 – 8 weeks

Airedale                                                             6 weeks

Bedlington Terrier                                               4 – 8 weeks

Bichon Frise                                                                4 weeks

Bouvier                                                               8 – 10 weeks

Brittany Spaniel                                                 8 – 10 weeks

Cairn Terrier                                                       6 – 10 weeks

Cocker Spaniel                                                     4 – 8 weeks

Collie                                                                            6 weeks

Dandle Dinmont Terrier                                     6 – 8 weeks

Golden Retriever                                               8 – 10 weeks

Irish Setter                                                          8 – 10 weeks

Kerry Blue Terrier                                                4 – 8 weeks

Lakeland Terrier                                                   6 – 8 weeks

Lhasa Apso                                                            3 – 4 weeks

Maltese                                                                        4 weeks

Old English Sheepdog                                         4 – 6 weeks

Pekingese                                                            6 – 10 weeks

Pomeranian                                                         8– 10 weeks

Poodle                                                                   4 – 6 weeks

Schnauzer-Miniature                                          6 – 8 weeks

Standard                                                                   8 weeks

Giant                                                                       10 weeks

Scottish Terrier                                                  6 – 10 weeks

Shih Tzu                                                                 3 – 4 weeks

Silky Terrier                                                           6 – 8 weeks

West Highland White Terrier                             6 – 8 weeks

Wire Fox Terrier                                                          6 weeks

Yorkshire Terrier                                                         4 weeks


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