During cool winter months, long haired dogs form a thick undercoat that helps sustain their warmth. Come spring, this dense coat loosens, carpeting homes with a fresh coating of unwanted mess.
The most important tool for grooming a long haired dog is a shedding rake. This wide toothed brush comes in different styles, but the most common employs a single or double row of thick inflexible pins. With a handle similar to a brush, this tool allows groomers to use quick downward motions to loosen unwanted undercoat. A shedding rake can also be used to break up mats.
Removing Dog Mats
Many long haired dogs develop mats, especially if they are not frequently brushed to remove undercoat. Mats that are not removed prior to washing will tighten after drying and can become painful and more difficult to remove. Friction caused by dog collars, leads to mats behind the ears.
Mat removal can be an exhausting process, depending on size and location of the knots. If a large mat is close to the skin, try to pull it apart beginning from the outside and working in. If the mat is too tight and too large, scissors will be needed. The safest way to cut a mat is to make perpendicular cuts to the dog’s flesh, then continue attempting to tear the mat apart. Take breaks and use the rake to separate the fur. Never make cuts parallel to the dog’s flesh. By making a parallel cut, it is easier to accidentally make a large gash, which will cause needless stress to the dog and make grooming more difficult in the future.
Brushing a Dog’s Coat
Once all mats are removed and the undercoat has been thinned, it’s time to begin brushing. This will help loosen more hair before the bath, and also remove any small mats that may have been missed. A slicker brush is ideal for long haired dogs. This brush has a dense number of metal pins that are bent at an angle. To use a slicker brush, work in sections, brushing in sharp movements from the skin to the outer coat.
A Pin brush is also effective at thinning undercoat and removing tangles with its polished pins and soft rubber base. Run this brush along the dog’s back, chest and stomach to remove any leftover hair.
Bathing a Dog
When bathing a dog, it is important to choose a shampoo that is made especially for them. Dogs that are prone to sensitive skin need extra consideration. Look for products that are hypoallergenic, and use few scents. When bathing a dog with white in his coat, look for a shampoo that will leave his coat bright.
The perfect spot for bathing is a location that drains well, and won’t leave dog and owner standing in mud. A driveway or patio works best. Using a lead, secure the animal to a safe location where he can’t roam. Spray him with water, avoiding the face and ears. Once he is thoroughly wet, apply shampoo liberally to the body. Vigorously massage the lather through the dog’s coat.
Rinsing is paramount and this process can be lengthy. Set the hose sprayer to a strong stream, but not so strong as to be painful. Check around the hind legs and stomach to be sure all soap is removed. Residual shampoo can lead to skin irritation, causing a hot spot for the dog to lick and further inflame.
Praise is important once grooming is complete and a frisky game of dry that pup should do the trick. A long walk can aid in drying the thickest of coats. Remember that bathing loosens more fur, so be prepared to pull a brush or rake out after that clean coat dries.