|Grooming your new poodle can be fun and entertaining for both you and the poodle. (It can also be a nightmare for both without the proper equipment and practice!!)
There are many different ways to groom your poodle. There are the show trims and the pet trims.
Although as a hobby breeder I have a great appreciation for the show trim it looks rather unusual to most people. The show trim does however have a history in the breed.
Standard Poodles were originally bred as water retrievers. The long "lion mane" was designed to keep the dogs vital organs warm when they swam in cold water. The puffs on the feet were to keep the joints warm, the puff on the tail so you could see the dog while it was swimming in the water. The rest was shaved to keep him from getting water logged and to prevent sticks from catching in the hair.
ABC's of GROOMING
Genetics is a factor in the texture and growth rate of a dog’s haircoat.
Nothing will produce a coat of show quality if the genetic potential does not exist. However, the dog owner can do much to help a dog’s haircoat achieve its full potential and to keep it in good condition: feed a good quality nutritionally complete and balanced dog food; keep the dog free of internal and external parasites and maintain a regular grooming schedule with the appropriate grooming equipment.
Grooming your dog not only helps him look his best at all times, but also helps keep him clean and healthy.
Grooming sessions are an excellent time to assess your dog’s health. Learn what is normal for your dog, what characteristics distinguish him. Changes in appearance or behavior may be signs of illness. If a dog displays constant problems such as itching, sudden loss of hair, inflamed areas, any signs of tenderness or lumps under the skin, a veterinarian should be consulted.
A dog who is accustomed to grooming will be more at ease when he is examined or treated by a veterinarian.
The kind of grooming routine you establish for your dog will depend on how much time the dog spends outside, weather conditions and whether the dog is a longhaired or shorthaired breed.
Shorthaired breeds should be groomed two to three times a week. Longhaired breeds require daily grooming. Many terrier breeds require periodic plucking to remove dead hairs and to give them a trim appearance with careful brushing and combing between pluckings.
If your dog’s haircoat requires complicated grooming, you may want to have it done professionally. However, trips to the groomer’s are not adequate to maintain a healthy, handsome haircoat. Your dog still needs to be brushed and combed regularly between professional grooming sessions.
Grooming A Puppy
Early in life a puppy should learn that grooming can be a pleasant experience. A puppy is easy to handle, and in a few months, with the proper training, he will be used to regular grooming. Begin with short grooming sessions. Reassure the puppy and praise him. As you repeat the daily grooming, accustom the puppy to opening his mouth for inspection and having his ears and paws handled. Later, when his teeth and ears need cleaning and his nails clipped, he won’t resist this care.
You may acquire a puppy or a young dog who resists grooming. Chances are, he had a bad experience and he will have to be shown, with considerable patience on your part, that there is nothing to fear.
Establish A Grooming Routine
While there is no set time that is best to groom a dog, it is not a good idea to handle any dog, especially a young puppy immediately after he has eaten. Nor can a young puppy or even an older dog be expected to stand quietly for grooming when he has to go outside to relieve himself.
If the puppy tends to resist grooming, avoid chasing the puppy. This has only negative effects: the puppy may become even more resistant to grooming or he may interpret chasing as an invitation to play.
Plan time for grooming when you can give the dog your full attention. The place should be one that is convenient for you, has good light and is free from distractions. Have your grooming tools assembled and within easy reach.
Establish and follow a specific order in grooming and follow this order. This helps ensure that the dog will be completely groomed and no part of the routine will be missed.
Placing the dog on a table usually makes the job easier. Choose a sturdy table which places the dog at a comfortable height for you. Place a rubber non-skid mat on the table to give your dog secure footing. If it is feasible, you may want to do what professional groomers do. Place a mirror where you can observe your dog from another perspective as you groom him.
If you have several dogs or groom dogs for show, you may prefer a professional grooming table available through pet supply stores and catalogs.
After each grooming thoroughly wash, rinse and dry the grooming equipment.
Brushing Is Basic
All dogs should be brushed. Brushing is basic to maintaining a clean and healthy coat. Frequent brushing loosens and removes scale, dirt and dead hair; distributes the natural oils throughout the coat and helps prevent tangles in long hair. How often this should be done and how much times it takes depends upon the haircoat of the individual dog. However, brushing every day is recommended during spring and fall when shedding can be very heavy to help control loose hair. Always brush the dog before bathing to remove dead hair and mays from the coats of longhair dogs.
A brush with natural bristles is popular for removing dead hair. Use a brush with correct bristle length - short for medium and shorthaired dogs, long for longhaired dogs. Another option for many medium and longhaired breeds is a brush with fine bent-wire teeth called a “slicker” or “carder.” For shorthaired breeds a hound mitt with short bristles on one side that you can slip over your hand is very effective. Brushes and other grooming equip-ment are available at pet shops and knowledgeable pet shop personnel can help you make the appropriate choice for your dog’s type of coat.
It’s important to get the brush down to the skin as massaging action helps loosen and remove dandruff flakes. Most longhaired breeds are brushed in layers from the skin outward. Then brush with the lay of the hair for the final touch.
A dog is not groomed if only his back and upper body are brushed. Train the dog to lie on either side and lift its front and then its back legs for underbody brushing. This is particularly important for longhaired dogs because mats often develop in this area. Some dogs object to this and it is necessary to experiment with the most satisfactory way to handle them. Sometimes resting the dog’s foot in the palm of the hand and using gentle strokes solves the problem. Some dogs may like to lie on their back or only one side. Others never like this aspect of grooming no matter how they are handled. If this is the case, be firm and let the dog know this step in the grooming procedure must be followed. Be as gentle and quick as possible, praise the dog for being good and reward him with a treat such as Purina ® Bonz dog snacks or Purina ® Dog Biscuits.
Mats and Tangles
If a longhaired dog is not groomed daily, mats and tangles can be a serious problem. Sometimes tangles can be brushed out. If the coat is matted, try using your fingers to pull the mat apart and then brush the hair in place. If the mat cannot be worked apart with the fingers, grooming preparations are available that lubricate the mats so they are easier to comb out. If combing will not work, the mats must be cut off. Gently pull the mat away from the dog’s body, then carefully cut the hair between the mat and the skin. Blunt-edge scissors are recommended to help prevent injuring the dog if he should wiggle during the cutting procedure.
Fleas and Ticks
As you groom your dog, check for fleas and ticks. Brush the haircoat upwards to expose specks on the skin surface. Fleas are diagnosed by finding either the parasites or black specks (flea excrement), sometimes called “flea dirt” on the dog’s haircoat. Many preparations on the market including sprays, powders, shampoos or dips can help rid your dog of fleas. Just be certain the label states the product is safe for dogs. Or you can ask your veterinarian to recommend an appropriate product.
If you use a flea powder or spray, starting the application at the dog’s head and working backward is recommended. Spray and apply the dust into the haircoat and between the toes and footpads. Be especially careful to avoid the eyes. Always read and follow label directions.
Although fleas feed on a dog’s blood, they spend most of their time off the dog. Therefore it is necessary to treat both a dog and his surroundings for effective flea control.
Ticks can appear as small, flat beetle-like bugs or a tan-colored bean when they are engorged with blood. They adhere firmly to the dog’s body and must be carefully extracted. This can be done with tweezers or by fingers protected with a paper towel, tissue or rubber gloves. Twisting or jerking may cause part of the mouth parts to break off in the skin, possibly causing chronic irritation. Disinfect the bite and wash the hands thoroughly.
Dogs should be bathed when they look dirty and/or have a strong doggy odor. Puppies or small dogs can be bathed in sinks and tubs while large breeds may require bathtubs. (After bathing your dog, be sure to scrub and disinfect the area prior to human use.) If the weather is warm, a child’s wading pool and garden hose may be used. Have your dog’s shampoo or soap, brush and comb and towels nearby before you begin. Place the dog in the tub and soak the dog through to the skin. Use a shampoo that is pH balanced for dogs. If your dog has a special skin problem, ask your veterinarian to recommend a shampoo. Two shampoos ( the first shampoo to loosen dirt and the second shampoo to remove it), each followed by a thorough rinsing with warm water, not hot water, should be sufficient to get your dog clean.
Let the dog “drip dry” for a few minutes as you squeeze the excess water out of the coat. Put him on the ground or on a table, cover with a dry towel and squeeze the coat until most of the water has been absorbed. Begin to brush dry. A hair dryer may be held about 12 inches away from the coat to aid in the drying process. Move the dryer and the brush over the entire surface of the dog so the coat dries evenly. Never let a wet dog outside in cold weather or expose him to drafts. Keep him away from areas where he can get dirty before he dries completely.
Sometimes it is best to avoid using soap and water - especially during extremely cold weather, when the puppy is very young or when a dog is convalescing. Preparations for giving your dog a dry bath are available in most pet shops. These products may be rubbed into the coat and brushed out. Be sure to follow the directions on the label.
Care of the Ears
Check your dog’s ears regularly. If the inside of the ear flap looks dirty, it can be cleaned gently with a small piece of cotton wrapped around a fingertip and moistened with mineral oil. Look for dirt, cuts, scratches, swelling parasites, discharge and an unpleasant odor. Clean off wax deposits carefully with a cotton-tipped swab dipped in mineral or baby oil. To avoid possible injury, never probe deep into the ear. If you discover dried blood, scabs or a thick discharge, consult your veterinarian.
Dogs with long hair or long ears sometimes get a heavy growth of hair on the undersides of their ears or at the opening of the inner ear which can collect dirt and eventually impair hearing. This excess hair should be removed by a professional.
Care of the Eyes
Any dried matter in the corners of the dog’s eyes should be gently cleaned away with a wash cloth or cotton swab moistened with warm water. Be careful not to rub over the eye with cotton as the fibers can cause irritation.
During grooming sessions, check your dog’s eyes for any signs of irritation or other problems. His eyes should be clear and bright, and the area around the eyeball should be white. Any red spots or apparent damage should receive immediate attention. Discharge from the corners of the eyes should be considered serious if a mild solution of boric acid does not correct the situation. Excessive discharge, other abnormal conditions or injury to the eye require prompt treatment by a veterinarian.
Keeping your dog’s nails clipped to the proper length is essential for good feet. Because dogs do not wear down their nails, it is your responsibility to trim them regularly. Or, if you find this difficult, ask your veterinarian or a professional groomer to do the trimming. Excessively long nails can damage the feet, making walking and running painful. In extreme cases, the dog becomes lame. How often the nails should be trimmed depends upon how fast your dog's nails grow.
Puppies have needle-sharp nails and clipping the points off is not only good practice for future clipping, but it also accustoms the puppy to this procedure. Nail clippers, available at pet supply stores, should be among the first items to buy and use on a new puppy. If necessary, ask your veterinarian to show you how to do it.
In clipping nails, cut the tips only and do not cut too far back where you may hit a vein, causing it to bleed. If this should happen, a moistened styptic pencil usually stops the bleeding. Or you can press a cotton ball against the end of the nail with a dab of petroleum jelly. If the bleeding continues or is excessive, consult your veterinarian.
Be Alert for Foot Problems
Each time you groom your dog, examine its foot pads for the presence of foreign objects, cuts or punctures. Cuts should be cleaned with soap and water and treated with an antiseptic.
During winter months, snow, ice, salt or other chemical de-icers on icy streets as well as mud can injure a dog’s feet. When your dog comes inside, clean the paws to remove mud and salt particles and treat the pads for cuts from sharp edges of ice. Clean with soap and water and apply an antiseptic.
Dogs housed outdoors should have their paws inspected regularly and treated when necessary.
During summer months or when a dog is being hunted in the field, inspect the paws for thorns which should be carefully removed with tweezers. Then apply an antiseptic.
Dental care is another important aspect of grooming your dog. Plaque and calculus buildup begins to form on a dog’s teeth after it is one year of age, particularly if soft pet foods are fed. Food bacteria and saliva accumulate and adhere to the tooth surface, forming a soft plaque. If plaque buildup continues, chalk-like materials form a hardened dental calculus on the tooth surface. If left unchecked, plaque and calculus buildup can eventually cause inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and of the membrane lining of the tooth socket (periodontitis).
Some dogs will allow regular brushing of their teeth. Use a mixture of baking soda with a little water added to form a paste or a toothpaste formulated specifically for dogs. Apply with a soft toothbrush or a piece of gauze wrapped around the finger. Do not use toothpaste formulated for humans because dogs swallow, rather than spit out the preparation, causing stomach upset.
Your dog should receive regular dental examinations by your veterinarian. A good time for this is during the yearly physical examination when vaccinations are given.
In addition to regular grooming, a dog owner should be aware that a dog’s environment or a management problem may be affecting the quality of a dog’s haircoat.
A dry, brittle haircoat and hair loss may result from low humidity. Indoor housing where humidity is always low is a good example. Too frequent bathing also dries out the skin and haircoat.
Dietary imbalance such as excessive feeding of table scraps or extended feeding of imbalanced pet foods (those recommended for intermittent feeding only) can result in poor haircoat. Feeding a nutritionally complete and balanced dog food such as Purina® Dog Chow® brand dog food or Purina® brand Hi Pro Dog Meal helps ensure a healthy haircoat that is enhanced by regular grooming.
Special Grooming Problems
A dog’s haircoat serves as an insulator against the heat. For this reason, a longhaired dog should never be shaved or clipped during the summer.
After a day at the beach with your dog, rinse him with clean warm water. Salt water can irritate his skin.
When dogs are in fields or wooded areas, burrs may adhere to the dog’s haircoat and, if not removed, cause skin irritation. Burrs are easier to remove if they are first saturated with vaseline, mineral oil or olive oil and then carefully worked out by hand, using the thumb and forefinger.
To remove chewing gum, rub an ice cube over the gum until the gum becomes brittle and easy to pull out. Or rub peanut butter into the area where the gum is imbedded and let it remain a few minutes. Then comb or work the gum out of the haircoat with your fingers.
To remove tar from the feet, rub butter, margarine or vegetable shortening into the affected areas and let it remain until the tar softens and can be pulled out. Or soften the tarred areas by soaking them in warm water, then in mineral oil. Repeat until the tar loosens and pulls out easily. Then wash and rinse the feet thoroughly.
To remove water-base paint, wash the dog repeatedly with warm water and a shampoo recommended for dogs as soon as possible. If the dog has brushed against oil-based paint, treat the paint-soaked hair as promptly as possible. Fresh paint should be wiped off with dry cloths and then washed with warm water and a shampoo for dogs. Dried paint should be cut off with blunt scissors and the remaining hair washed and rinsed several times.
Caution: Do not use paint removers, kerosene, turpen-tine or gasoline because they may severely irritate the skin.
The Importance of Early Training: Dogs who have been accustomed to grooming are more likely to cooperate when time-consuming procedures are needed to remove foreign substances. Praise your dog for his cooperation and reward him with a treat.
Common Coat-Catching Solutions
How many times have we tried to brush our dog only to discover a "hitchhiker" hidden among the longer furs?
Depending on your dog's coat, removing gum, burrs, or any other hidden treasure can be a nightmare, and often we resort to the easy way out by hacking off that chunk of fur and praying it grows back in normal.
Here are some more photogenic solutions to the common coat-catcher.
For gum stuck just on top of the coat, use ice cubes to freeze it first, then you can either break it off, or lift it off gently.
If the gum has been rubbed right in (ick), a good solvent will remove it better than anything. Peanut butter works for this rather well.
For gum stuck in the hairs between his toes, it is best to just cut it off carefully, and keep those hairs trimmed to avoid further mishaps.
Brushing out a burr is not always possible, but there is another way, as opposed to just hacking it out in a chunk. It still cuts it out, but in a less traumatic way for your dog's coat. Take a sewing seam ripper, and pick the hairs around the burr until it can be pulled out.
To prevent burrs from becoming encased again, a spritz with mink-oil conditioner will keep his coat nice and slippery, and any burrs will brush out easily. You can buy mink-oil conditioner from most groomers.
Water soluble paints like latex should be washed out of the fur immediately using warm, soapy water. Do NOT use turpentine or varsol, and do not allow your dog to chew it out.
What to do about Ticks:
Ticks seem to be the product of one of Nature's foul moods. A real little nasty critter, it hides out in grass and catches the unsuspecting passerby.
Crawling up to bare skin, or digging for it, if you're a dog, the tick will bury it's head under the skin layer and proceed to drink all the blood it can get.
If you live in Tick-country, a daily check during the summer season is essential. Rub your hands all over your dog's body, and your fingers through his fur, applying pressure, enough that you can feel any abnormalities in the skin.
If you feel a small lump, pull the fur apart to investigate it further. An embedded tick will look like a small black or brown pimple, sometimes flat-ish, depending on location, and sometimes legs are visible.
How to Remove a Tick
You've located the little vampire and now you need to get him out of your dog. There's a couple of ways of doing this, depending on what you have on hand, any of these methods should work well.
Important Note: If you live in an area where ticks are a common hazard, check with your veterinarian and find out if the Lyme Disease vaccine is available.
Some species of ticks carry Lyme Disease, and you may need to take the removed tick in to have it identified by a veterinarian.
The Vaseline Tick Trick
Seperate the fur around the tick, and coat him with a thick layer of vaseline, taking care not to leave air holes or bubbles. This will force the tick to surface for air, leaving you free to grab him without worrying about leaving pieces of him stuck in your pet's flesh. Toss tick in toilet and flush. Wash your hands and your dog's skin with anti-bacterial soap.
Tweezing it Out
Pull the surrounding hairs away from the ticks body. Take the tweezers and grasp the tick as close to the buried head as you can possibly get. Do NOT squeeze, but pull gently up and away from the dog, slowly to be sure not to break off the head of the tick. Toss tick in toilet and flush. Wash your hands and your dog's skin with anti-bacterial soap.
If you suspect you may have left a piece of tick still embedded under your pet's skin, please seek veterinary care immediately. The resulting infections could be horrible, and ticks carry a plethora of nasty diseases.
Note: Burning the tick out is NOT recommended. You are more likely to burn yourself and your dog than to remove the tick.
Brushing Your Best Buddy
Looking Good is Feeling Good
Brushing your dog isn't just for removing the little nasties his fur can pick up, a good brushing will keep your dog looking and feeling great, cut down the shedding drastically, as well as alert you to any skin and coat problems, and sometimes even internal parasites.
File this away for future reference, a dull coat can indicate a worm infestation, and it is best to see your veterinarian.
Like any job, proper tools are essential, and in case of grooming, tools should be matched to
your dog's coat type.
Short Coat - A soft bristled brush is perfect for this coat type. While not strong enough to penetrate deeper in a long-coated dog, on a short coat, this brush is ideal for removing dead hair and spreading the skin's natural oils.
Long Wavy or Wire Coat - A pin brush is best for this type of coat. The straight pins will go deep enough to pull out the dead hair that causes matting and also expel any hitchhikers
Long Curly or Silky Coat - The ever-versatile slicker brush. This is the most common pet brush you see, the one with the flat, rectangular head, and bent wire bristles. This brush can be used for any coat, but is best on a long soft coated dog. Use it to work out tangles that come with curls and to keep the straight silky coat soft and shiny.
Combs and Gloves
Wide-toothed combs are used to clean the undercoat of dogs with heavy, dense fur that regular brushes can not penetrate, like Malamutes and Chow Chows. A comb with closer-set teeth pull any lingering dead hair out after the majority of the work is done.
Hound gloves are unique brushes that you wear like a glove. Semi-soft rubber bristles on one side loosen dead fur in short coats, and the wire bristles on the opposite side strip the dead hair away. Because of the feeling of being caressed, a dog who fights the brush will generally sit for a hound glove.
Now that you've removed any unwanted hair, it's time for that bath!
Time for that Shower!
Now you have that coat all cleared of foreign objects, it's time to give Buddy a good
It seems to be inevitable. Have dog ... have smelly stuff mashed into his coat. And no amount of brushing is going to get rid of the stench. I don't know why it is, but all dogs, no matter how prissy they act, cannot resist a roll in something that smells like it died three years ago.
How big your dog is will make a big difference in where you choose to give him his bath. Small dogs can be easily accommodated in sinks or indoor bathtubs, but bigger dogs present a bit of a dilemma. Damage control is easy when you've only got a small pet. If you are a big dog fan, be prepared to be soaked yourself, no matter where you choose to get the dirty ... er ... clean deed done. If they must put up with this indignity, your dog is sure to share the water.
The Indoor Bath
A detachable shower nozzle with a lengthy hose is indispensable when bathing your dog indoors. Have plenty of towels ready for after and keep your carefully selected shampoo ready. For dogs with sensitive skin, have your vet recommend a brand. For the extra-large variety of dog, a ramp might be a good idea to actually GET him into the tub.
Okay, now he's loaded up, what next?
Take your shower nozzle, and test the water temperature to make sure it is just warm, not hot. Rinse him down good, working your free hand under the fur to get it all good and wet.
Once he's thoroughly soaked, take a generous helping of shampoo, and work it in around his neck, over the top of his head, avoiding his face, and down his back, tail and legs. Get a good lather up, and massage his skin well.
After he's a standing ball of suds, take the hose again and rinse him off, starting from the neck again. Rinse him carefully, take care not to get any in his ears or eyes. Any remaining soap will irritate his skin, so make sure he's squeaky clean.
Special coat conditioner is optional, but is a nice touch. Again, take care not to get his eyes and ears. Rinse thoroughly one more time, and if you are lucky, he'll still be in the same spot he was before, allowing you to wrap him in a towel for a good pat down to absorb excess water. Be sure to get as much as you can. If he has a short coat, a few hours of comfortable relaxing on your formerly dry, warm sofa will finish him off.
If he has a long, or thick double coat, a blow-dry is in order, brushing out tangles as you go. Human blow-dryers are too hot, he'll need his own, which you can pick up at a pet supply store.
The Outdoor Bath
An outdoor bath is the same as above, but you must pick a warm day to do it. Garden hoses do not have temperature control, and most times the water coming from a garden hose can get very cold, very quickly.
Take a warm, wet face cloth and carefully wipe around his eyes, removing any goop that may have seeped into the corners. For some dogs, this is a constant task.
These should be cleaned once a month, regardless of bath time. Take a cotton ball, or a soft cloth, dip it in an ear solution, or mineral oil, and gently wipe around the inside of his ears. Don't go too deep, just the visible areas need cleaning.
Now pet your dog and give him a treat, put your feet and relax too. Congratulations. You've survived this bath time, maybe a little wetter, but definitely cleaner.
Nail trimmers come in a variety of types. The most common nail trimmer is the guillotine trimmer. The top of the dog's nail is inserted into the opening of this metal tool above the cutting blade. When the handle is squeezed together, the cutting mechanism is activated. Other nail trimmer types are the scissors type and the safety nail trimmer, which is equipped with a safety stop near the cutting blade to limit the amount of nail trimmed. Then there are nail files and electric nail trimmers.
Nails seem to grow at different rates in different dogs. In any case, one rule holds true: the nails must be kept short for the feet to remain healthy. Long nails interfere with the dog's gait, making walking awkward or painful. They can also break easily. This usually happens at the base of the nail, where blood vessels and nerves are located, and precipitates a trip to the veterinarian.
Another problem affects dogs whose overgrown nails curl toward the foot, eventually piercing the sensitive pads and causing deep pad infections. Dewclaws most frequently become overgrown, presumably because owners commonly overlook them. Many breeders routinely have dewclaws removed when puppies are a few days old. Check your puppy when you get it. If its dewclaws are intact, you must be sure to keep the nails short at all times. These problems can be easily prevented with regular nail care.
To begin with, regularly stroke the puppy's feet, gently touching each toe in turn. Allow it to become accustomed to having this delicate part of the body handled, so it won't be apt to panic when you get down to business later.
Unfortunately, some dogs never adjust to having their nails trimmed. They need only see the clippers and they're squalling, long before you're anywhere near a nail. In that case, trimming nails becomes a two-person job: one person to hold the dog, the other to do the work. It can still be a test of wills. That's why you should accustom your young puppy to nail care. It increases the likelihood of maintaining peace when the animal is fully grown.
Unpigmented nails are simple to trim. If your dog has at least one unpigmented nail, examine it closely. You should see a small pink triangle extending from the base of the nail narrowing toward the tip. This triangle houses the blood supply and nerves, which you want to avoid when trimming the nail. Position the nail trimmer so that it clearly bypasses the pink area, and proceed to clip. That's all there is to nail trimming.
Of course, trimming nails is infinitely more challenging in dogs with black or pigmented nails. Because you can't see the pink part, you must estimate how much nail to clip. To be on the safe side, trim only the part of each nail which hooks downward. The trimmed nail should just clear the floor.
If you're absolutely unnerved of the thought of nail trimming, find a veterinarian or groomer to do it for you. This service usually costs very little and goes a long way in keeping your dog comfortable.