Why you should brush your dog

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Grooming your dog has multiple benefits so it should be done regularly and from an early age.

We’ve all seen the dog food and paint adverts in which dogs with beautiful flowing locks bound through flower meadows or similar and thought, thank goodness I don’t have to groom that lot! But, in fact, brushing your dog has multiple benefits and should form part of your routine dog care activities, even if they have very short fur.dog grooming 3

Different breeds and individual dogs shed to varying degrees and generalisations are dangerous. However, in broad terms dogs grow two coats a year which are shed in Spring and Autumn. The Spring moult is more significant because it is the heavier winter coat that is being lost. It seems to go on forever, doesn’t it.

Brushing will help keep your dogs’ coat in good condition by stimulating blood flow to the skin and removing the dirty oily hair that has been cast, but not shed from the coat. It will also make them feel more comfortable, a bit like giving tangled hair a good brush. Be sure to get the right brush for your dogs’ fur type and carefully tease out matted parts and debris as you would for a child’s hair.  No rough tugging!

Brushing your dog will reduce the amount of fur that needs to be vacuumed up – honest. Though it seems that as much as you remove, the same amount comes away in your hand immediately afterwards. Any doggie odour will be reduced through the removal of grubby greasy fur and their bed will also smell better and need less frequent washing. You will also see a reduction in the incidence of greasy marks on walls they regularly brush against, your clothes and even when you run you hand over their coat. You should see an improved shine and the coat should feel smoother and cleaner to the touch after brushing. If you have not been in the habit of grooming your dog regularly, this could take a few days or even a couple of weeks to become obvious.

dog groomingYou should start to brush your dog as soon as you get him/her, whether as a puppy or when older. Young puppies don’t really need brushing, but if it is done from the outset, it becomes a normalised activity that they are happy to accept without a fuss. Let them sniff the brush and tell them they are going to be brushed – they soon become familiar with the phrase. A treat during and certainly afterwards helps them associate being brushed with nice things so increases cooperation, especially if they are nervous at first. A puppy may tend to try to play with the brush, just remove it and walk away as if it becomes a game they will never learn to stand still. Don’t tell them off as it needs to be a positive experience. Going to a grooming parlour is an option, but it should be considered as equivalent to you going to the hair dresser or barber – a regular, but infrequent tidy up. It does not bring the additional, less tangible, but just as important benefits described below.

Ok, so in addition to the benefits to the coat condition and look of your dog, why is brushing important?  Well, it is very specifically time you give to your dog, so it reinforces the bond you have. You talk to them only and they are not sharing you with the whole family while it is going on.  In our busy lives, family dogs often miss out on one to one time that we all crave, including dogs, as life goes on around them. Remember, you may have lots of interests and activities taking up your time, but your dog only has you and looks to you for everything.dog grooming 2

Ideally, everyone in the family should be involved with the dog brushing routine for the same reason – it gives the dog ‘me time’ with every individual family member. Make sure you show older children very specifically what to do and younger children should not do this without adult supervision in case they become over enthusiastic and a nip results.

A dog that is regularly handled by multiple members of the family will generally be more relaxed with strangers touching them, so vet visits or kennel stays will be less stressful all round. When brushing your dog you can teach the command ‘stand; which will make your job easier. A solid stand command is also useful when a vet is trying to examine the dog.

Grooming also lets you check for and remove ticks and other parasites, which is particularly important at this time of year. In older dogs, the growth of any lumps and bumps will be noticed sooner and can be monitored frequently to check their rate of growth before deciding on a visit to the vet.Dog grooming fotolia_rf_photo_of_dog_with_fleas_scratching_back

If grooming is done regularly, and at this time of year, that probably means daily or every second day, it need not be a massively time consuming activity. Five – 10 minutes only with a treat and some play time at the end to bring reward for cooperation and fun into the activity.
So start today, and enrich your relationship with your dog while also benefitting their physical and psychological health.

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