So you've found a wonderful local groomer both you and your furry loved one positively adore. Great news! But that doesn't mean you won't need to play groomer yourself once in a while between visits.
"It's essential to become familiar with exactly the type of coat your dog has," says Chris Shryock, a professional groomer at Mod Dog Salon & Boutique in Boca Raton, FL. "Your groomer can help familiarize you with your dog's particular coat; for instance, once a day brushing is necessary for your full coated Shih Tzu while once a week is sufficient for your Rottweiler," Chris notes. "Do this from the moment you get your dog. What you do with your puppy at 16 weeks is what she'll understand and accept at 16 months and 16 years." Start off with a super-soft brush for new puppies (like the Li'l Pals Bristle Brush) and gradually progress to something a bit more firm, such as a slicker, depending on fur thickness and texture.
The most major of all grooming issues for longer haired dogs is matting. "As many as 100 hairs or more can make up just one single mat," says Betty Nilla, a master groomer in Boca Raton. For many, any sign of matting means booking a grooming appointment ASAP. But taking care of those nasty gnarls can be as simple as a visit to your very own kitchen! "Apply a small amount of cornstarch to the dry mat, (do not moisten), to loosen the fur and allow for easy untangling," Betty advises. Once you've rubbed the cornstarch into the mat, take a fine yet strong comb (the Li'l Pals Shedding Comb is a great choice), and start working the knot out. "Always begin combing from the very end of the mat since you do not want to pull directly on the dog's skin which would be extremely painful," she adds. "After you've loosened up the end, start working towards the center of it eventually getting as close to the skin as possible. It's a gradual process to keep it as pain-free and safe for your dog as you can, you need to be patient!"
To get your pooch into the hygiene habit, Chris advises doing a weekly ear check starting at puppyhood. If they look dirty, gently clean them with a cotton swab taking care to only clean where you can see. (Also, note that ears are one of the top three places where ticks love to hide.) Additionally, check your dog's paws weekly for debris and things like gum, tar, sand, spurs, etc. "As puppies play with their feet every day, if possible," he adds. "Most little dogs will become very feet-sensitive if they are not accustomed to their paws being touched, and nail clipping will become a tough task."