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Hair of the dog

Grooming is an essential part of dog care. Different coat types require differing levels of maintenance and a qualified groomer will advise you on equipment, coat care and specialist upkeep.

Hair of the dog 2Your dog’s coat consists of two layers: an outer ‘overcoat’ of guard hairs and a short, dense, insulating undercoat. Hair growth has three cycles: firstly the hair grows, this is followed by a transition period and finally it rests and dies causing shedding, which lasts about 10 days. Not all hair is in the same cycle simultaneously. At certain times of the year more shedding occurs and this is influenced by the amount of daylight. Your dog prepares for seasonal changes by growing his lighter coat in Spring and his denser coat in Autumn. Exposure to artificial lighting and central heating can also influence shedding times.

Puppies should be groomed daily from an early age to get accustomed to grooming equipment. To help keep your dog stationary hold a stuffed Kong in front of his nose for him to lick, brushing with your spare hand. The Kong prevents him chewing the brush and creates a positive reward when being groomed. Your dog may also be placed on a low table with a non-slip surface. Alternatively place a lidded pot of food on a chair in front of him. While his focus is on the food groom him, occasionally rewarding from the pot.Hair of the dog 1

Having the right equipment is essential. Purchase a good quality bristle brush and a metal comb with wider teeth at one end and narrower teeth at the other end. A v-rake combs through long hair nicely, especially good for my Golden Retriever’s ‘pantaloons’. Knots can be teased out with a de-matter, which has blades that slice through felted hair. If not essential think twice about clipping your dog to keep him cool in summer. His coat protects him from cold and heat – a bit like insulating your home to keep it warm in winter and cool in summer.

Many dogs love being groomed.   Start your dog off on the right track by making it a positive experience every day, and you will both enjoy your grooming sessions together.

This article, along with a selection of others about behaviour and training, is available in our Dog Blog booklet.  This can be purchased for £2 and is available as a paper copy or downloadable e-book.  All proceeds to Irish Retriever Rescue.

If you would like to sell any copies of the Dog Blog for your rescue organisation, please contact kate@contemplatingcanines.com.