Just like humans, dogs need more than just physical exercise. They need mental stimulation too! I have groomed many dogs over the years where the pet parents will tell me that their dogs are so hyper all the time, even after walks. I wanted to look into this, and it turns out a big factor in helping your dog be more calm is to stimulate their minds along with working out their bodies!
Please don’t get me wrong, physical exercise is very important! It is truly half the battle, and without it your dog will still be very hyper. Both are needed! So in this article I am going to go over different ways to help your dog stay stimulated. I will be trying to include a variety that can be done inside and outside so no matter the weather or living situation you will hopefully find something to help!
Taking Time to Smell on Walks
As just discussed, walks are important. But there is more to walks than just getting it over with, at least for them! Even just going up and down the block will have different scents for your dog every time. Letting them smell around and engage with their environment will help them feel much more tired and calm after their walks. If you are uncomfortable with your dog deciding every place they want to smell, try giving them designated smelling areas or a command like ‘go smell’ for certain times during the walk is still just as beneficial! Plus teaching your dog a command like ‘go smell’ will be extra stimulation!
Teach Your Dog a New Trick
There are so many cool tricks you can teach your dog! YouTube will be your best friend, as there are lots of different tutorials by trainers to help pet parents teach their pups something new. Even just around 15 minutes of teaching them a new trick every day will help keep their minds engaged and also help them bond with you! Besides shake, sit and lay down, there are a lot more cool tricks to teach! Keep in mind to use both toys and treats as rewards depending on how often you are training your dog, as all those extra treats do add up!
Invest in Puzzle Toys/Feeders
We all love to spoil our dogs with toys, why not get them some that help stimulate their mind a little more? There are toys that are self fetching toys that launch a ball for them, they have to figure out where to put the ball to get it to be thrown! There are also toys that you can put treats in and your pup will roll it around to get the treats out, just be warned these toys can get a little noisy! In my reference page there will be articles that will dive deeper into the different toys on the market. My personal favorite one has been by Kong and has the dog roll it around the floor to get the treats out! This keeps them physically and mentally active.
Rotate out Old Toys
Speaking of toys, it may be a good idea to invest in a small (or large) bin to keep your dog’s toys in. Every day or even just when you notice your dog not as interested in them, swap them out for other toys in the bin. Give them a couple of toys a day to play with, they don’t need all of them at once! This helps keeps things fresh for your dog and will help you save a little money as well! Rope toys, squeakers, and chews are all great options to have on hand!
Teach Your Dog a Game to Play
This is on the same level as tricks but gets you as the pet parent more involved. You can teach your dog the name of their toys and then follow up with a “find it” command to have them find specific toys. You can also play hide and seek! This will require two people, as one will have your dog stay in a sit/stay while the other hides. Then give your command and let the games begin! You can try obstacle courses set up around the house (great for winter time!) and so much more! I have found lots of great games to play with my dog from Pinterest, I recommend checking out the app as well!
As you can see, keeping your dog mentally stimulated is fun and doesn’t have to take a long time every day. Again, even just 15 minutes of mental stimulation or giving your dog that extra 15 minutes of sniff time during your walks will most likely result in a calmer and more content dog!
Being mid-January here in Michigan, snow and freezing cold temperatures are all around us. This doesn’t stop dogs from needing to exercise and burn energy! There are also dogs who are built for the cold who may not even want to come inside.
We all know that their fur protects them from the cold, and there are plenty of sweaters and coats to help them as well. But what about their paws? Their paws are what touches the snow and ice that covers the ground. Humans also put out salt and other products that could hurt the pads on your dog’s paws.
So what can we do to help our dogs enjoy winter? There are a few and very simple ways that we can do protect their paws against the harsh winter elements!
Some people may think they look silly, but I find them the best protection for your furry friend in the snow! They will prevent any ice and snow from gathering between their toes, and keep those melting products away. It may take your dog time to get used to them, so I would just slowly work your way to using them. Start the process in the summer/fall so that when winter comes around your dog will be comfortable wearing them! Start as slow as your dog needs, introducing them and giving rewards for each step of the process. I will have a page of references with a website that goes into detail how to help your dog get used to their new boots!
*Paw Balms/Petroleum Jelly-Based Products
These products help keep a protective layer over their feet to help keep a barrier between the paw pads and snow. They also help keep their paws nice and hydrated, as we all know dry skin is an issue in the winter! There are dog specific paw balms, which make sure the ingredients are safe for dogs and which is what I typically use. A few websites I found suggested petroleum jelly-based products like Vasoline but I personally have not tried that with my own dog.
*Keep a Towel Handy
When coming inside, make sure to wipe down their feet and their bodies to make sure they are nice and dry. Get in between their toes to make sure nothing is hiding in there. If salt or ice melting products are stuck in their toes it could cause irritations to happen. There are paw moisturizers that you can put on after they come inside as well to help with paw health and can be used year round!
*Keep Walks Short
I understand that some breeds out there like the husky, malamute, saint bernard etc do not want to be inside during this time. For other dogs, keep your walks short. There may also be indoor agility courses you can take your dog to to help burn out some energy! If your dog seems to be getting restless, I would recommend getting a couple interactive toys that are like puzzles to help them keep busy while the days are shorter and they may not be able to get outside like they can during the warmer months.
I hope this article helps those in colder climates help care for their dogs better while we still get through these next few months! Stay warm!
Hello pet parents! In this article I want to go over the different avenues that groomers may choose to go down in their grooming career. Most people know of grooming salons, and places like Petco and PetSmart that offer grooming inside of their stores but this article will go over the different places you may be able to find a dog groomer that works best for you and your dog!
Here is a list of all the avenues of grooming that a dog groomer may take! I will break down each to the best of my knowledge with their pros and cons. There may be even more avenues out there and I will update this article if I find them!
Avenues of Dog Grooming:
*Corporate grooming salons
*Private grooming salons
Corporate Grooming Salon
I owe my grooming career to a corporate salon! These places hire those who are wanting to become dog groomers as bathers, and then send them to their grooming programs to teach them how to groom. These places are very convenient for pet parents as they can get all of their pet’s needs taken care of in one place. They also allow you to stick with the same groomer if you please or see whomever has an availability first. Some cons are that because they are typically high volume stores they may not be a good fit for dogs who are dog aggressive, have anxiety, or other health problems that need to be monitored by the entire groom. You will find the prices typically in the middle of most private salons as these companies do a pretty good job surveying prices in areas and adjusting to them.
Private Grooming Salons
These salons are owned by individuals who are either groomers themselves or employ groomers to work for them. They are hired typically from corporate groomers looking for a change, out of grooming school or even training them at their facilities. They typically have great atmospheres and because you are there solely for grooming these groomers do not have the added stress of getting you to add on products or services and can solely focus on the groom. There is also less foot traffic and may be less stressful for your pet and private salons may be able to work a little better with pets who have special needs or are seniors. They will be priced similar to corporate salons, but depending on the location and experience of the staff you could pay more at a corporate salon. These groomers may also specialize in certain grooming techniques and styles, and will charge for those accordingly.
I would like to start off saying, not every veterinarian office offers grooming services. These places are good for dogs who may need some medical assistance like infections, or severe matting. It is also a good option for those who want their dogs to be around familiar faces, and if anything does go wrong during the grooming session (accidents do happen), they will be able to take care of them immediately. Salons will also refer dogs who may need to be sedated due to aggression or extreme anxiety while the pet parent works with a dog trainer or behavior specialist. Because they typically deal with more difficult dogs or will use medications/additional staff to help they may charge more a corporate or private grooming salon but will be honest in stating that I’m not entirely sure about grooming prices at veterinarian offices.
At Home/Private Residence
These groomers work right out of their own homes! They convert either an outdoor patio, garage, basement, or even a shed into a mini grooming salon. Some may use cages but typically they do not work with more than a couple dogs at a time. These groomers create a relaxing, cozy environment for their dogs. They have the ability to use their own tools and products and can specialize in whatever specialty they like. These groomers keep overhead very low and can typically charge less than a grooming salon or other avenues of grooming but that will depend on what grooming service you are looking for, the experience of the groomer and condition of the coat.
There are several industries that need clients to come visit them so they can get the experience they need to work unsupervised: dental hygienist, massage therapists, and dog groomers! Although there are not many grooming schools, if you take your dog there, they will be in good hands! Every dog is looked over before leaving by an instructor before leaving and students are encouraged to ask questions. No, your groom may not be perfect but your pet will be in good hands, you will be helping students, and will be saving money too!
Sometimes, traveling to the groomer can be a bit of a hassle. You may have a crazy schedule, work from home while watching the kids, your dog may get motion sickness or you just love the idea of someone coming to you so you can stay home and relax. This is where the mobile groomer comes in! They typically have a large van they groom out of, or a trailer that they pull behind their vehicle. They will either come to your door to grab your pup or you can walk to them but they will perform the entire groom one on one at the curb of your house! These groomers are on the luxury price end of grooming, from what I have seen they are typically the most expensive, but the cage free environment and no travel makes this avenue a lot less stressful for pets! These groomers can also offer specialized grooms and typically have years of experience in the field.
The last on the list, but certainly not least, is the house call groomer. That’s me! House call groomers take things a step further than mobile groomers and will set up right inside your home. They bring a table and all of their tools and only need your bathtub or sink to wash your dog in. This avenue is really good for dogs who need someone to work with them due to health conditions or behavioral problems. This is also good for senior dogs who just need comfort grooming at the end of their lives and do not do so well with the loud sounds and hustle and bustle of a grooming salon (mobile is also good for this as well). House call groomers also are on the more expensive end. They have to carry all of their tools and typically have a very physically taxing job of working on the ground or wherever the pet is the most comfortable. That is not to say the other avenues are not physically taxing, they are!
I hope you enjoyed this list of the different areas you will find groomers! All of this stems from my experience in the grooming world, and I do apologize if there is some information that may not pertain to your area like it does mine. Please know pricing and practices do vary by location so please look more into each avenue before deciding on a dog groomer. I absolutely love all my groomers out there in any avenue that they chose to take because it gives you, the pet parent, so many avenues to choose from and be able to see what works best for you and your pooch!
Dog parks, normally when I think about dog parks I visualize large green pastures with high fences with dogs running around off leash playing with each other while their pet parents socialize and relax. Is that what you envision as well? I’ll be honest in saying that I have personally never seen a dog park in real life and only in movies. So in order to write this article, I did quite a bit of research to find out what REAL dog parks are like, are they safe and what you should do to prepare for your visit to the dog park, or if you should even visit a dog park at all. After this article there will be a page of references, I highly recommend you read them as they contain lots of amazing information that I was not able to dive into during this article.
Firstly, I would like to go over the benefits of dog parks. Dog parks can be great places for dogs to get off leash and burn some energy, especially in big cities and places where local governments may have put restrictions on dogs and where they are not allowed to be. It creates a space for the dog parent and dog to bond and be outside and get some fresh air, and is a great way for the pet parent to get in some exercise too!
Deciding if the Dog Park is Right for You and Your Dog
*The Park’s Structure
One of the very first things you can do to make sure your dog will be safe at the dog park is to check out the park itself first. You’ll want a dog park that has high fences and plenty of spaces for dogs to separate from each other in case one needs a break. You don’t want another dog to be able to charge at another and tackle them, even in play, and the other dog does not have an option to hide if they are not interested in playing with that dog or that way. Take note to see if dogs are conjuring around the openings of the park and how big the entrances are. If dogs seem to loiter around this spot, it could possibly start some anxiety with your dog being bombarded with new dogs and scents all at once especially by dogs who are hyper and may not read body language signs from other dogs, but we will go over that in detail after.
Is it located next to a busy road? Do you feel secure with the park’s entrance that it could stop your dog or other dogs from running outside of the park? Do they have benches, clean up areas or communal watering areas for dogs? Be careful about letting your dog drink from communal areas as they could spread unwanted germs and illnesses from dog to dog.
*The behaviors of your dog and other dogs
The other area of mention is to watch how your dog is with other dogs, even before going to the dog park. Just like humans, not every dog is interested in every other dog and they may not get along with every other dog. Once a dog hits mature age, they may have less drive to meet new dogs or to play with others (and just like humans, there may be some who simply cannot get enough of other people and dogs).
If your dog is showing signs like: yawning a lot, panting, becoming suddenly startled, possessive of toys or food then maybe the dog park is not for you. Also be conscious if your dog is overly hyper and plays rough. Not every dog is going to want to play with your dog, especially if they are very hyper! Keep an eye on your dog and other dogs, if they start giving signs that they are becoming uncomfortable around your dog, or your dog is uncomfortable around another dog, you will need to be able to remove yourself and your dog until both have calmed down.
Preparing to go to the Park!
After doing some research, checking out your local park and determining if your dog plays well with others then it is time to get ready to go to the park! Leashes and collars are not the only items you will need to go to the park. Disposable bags for accidents are a must, along with bringing a dish and water for your dog to drink from when they get thirsty. There are lots of cool portable water carriers for dogs that you can find online or at your local pet retailer.
Aside from physical items, I highly recommend that your dog is fully up to date all their vaccinations before visiting the park. If you wonder how long you should wait, your vet can tell you that information. They will also be able to tell you what vaccinations they believe your dog should have if you plan on visiting dog parks.
So What if the Dog Park isn’t for You and Your Pup?
As I stated before, dog parks are not for every pair of pet parents and dogs. But there are still plenty of cool activities that you can do with your dog that don’t involve them having to socialize with tons of other dogs. Consider joining a sport with them like agility or frisbee! There are also events called Barn Hunt which you can find more about at the American Kennel Club’s website.
I hope this article helped you in deciding if dog parks are right for you and your dog, and if they are not I truly hope you look into those fun activities listed just above! They will help give your pet and you some amazing bonding experiences.
Welcoming a new puppy into your home is super exciting! Having a dog in your life can help reduce stress and loneliness along with helping you stay more active as you walk and play with your dog.
But dog ownership is a huge undertaking that should not be taken lightly. In my years as a dog groomer I have had numerous encounters with new pet parents who are overwhelmed with just how much work taking care of a puppy is, and in some situations the pet parent ended up giving their dog to another family.
So with this article I am hoping to help you prepare for your new puppy so help the transition be as smooth as possible and to also help you decide if dog ownership is right for you.
Sit down with your family and discuss the following:
Depending on how many people are in your family, you should have a serious sit down discussion about the amount of effort each family member wants to put in. If you are single, that is even more to consider.
First thing I think someone should consider is the amount of time and resources owning a dog takes, especially a puppy. It’s recommended that the new owner take a few days off to help the puppy get situated, is this possible for you? When you first get your puppy you will also be at the vet quite often with shots, tests for heart worms and other things. This requires a lot of time and finances. When it is time to get your puppy spayed or neutered, your puppy could take up to 10 days to heal. Someone will need to be with them the full 10 days to make sure they are healing up properly and all after care instructions are followed. So this will require either getting help from outside places like a family member or friend or the family inside the house take turns.
Other time and care considerations will be exercise, training, and grooming. These will all depend on the breed you get and the dog as an individual. Training will begin not long after the puppy arrives and will take a team effort. Make sure everyone is on the same team when it comes to who will take what roles. Sometimes it helps to establish who will take care of the grooming, who feeds and waters the dog, and so on and so forth. There is no such thing as too much preparation! Again, if you are solo then consider that you will have to do all these things by yourself. Your work schedule will have to be accommodating for all of these things.
A final piece of consideration to getting a new puppy is the breed of puppy you get. Breeds like Huskies or Malamutes are not recommended breeds for first time dog owners. They need several hours of exercise a day, along with major grooming needs. If you are considering a poodle mix of some sort (think doodle), keep in mind you never know how your dog will look in the end. They have massive grooming needs and you will be at a groomer typically every 4-6 weeks.
If you are not sure of what breed of dog to get, akc.org has a quiz that you can take, and they ask you about the different aspects of your life to help you find the best fit for you! They also have a list of reputable AKC certified breeders if that is the route you want to take. Also look at local rescues, there are many breed specific rescues as well!
Now that we have done some serious planning and research and have found our perfect breed and breeder/rescue, let’s get to the fun part. Buying all the things your puppy will need when they get to your home!
Items to have before your puppy arrives home
I came across a couple of websites that gave wonderful lists of items to have when welcoming your new puppy, and like always I will have all my references at the end of the article!
High Quality Puppy Food and High Quality Treats
Water and Food Bowl
Variety of Toys
A Sturdy Leash and Collar
Stain and Odor Remover
Other items that may not be necessary depending on living and training situations but I do recommend also having baby gates and puppy pads.
Let’s dive deeper into each of these items:
Your puppy’s crate will be a safe place for them to go to feel secure and to sleep. It will take time for your puppy to be used to their crate and there are lots of articles, videos and podcasts out there to help you with that process. Another note is you do not need to have a large crate! Your puppy’s crate needs to be big enough for them to stand up and turn around but nothing more. If your puppy is going to be a larger breed, consider getting a large cage with dividers. They allow you to have an appropriate size without having to keep upgrading and spending money on cages.
High Quality Food and Treats
Nutrition is so important for your puppy to grow up healthy and strong. I personally advise getting your puppy’s food from a pet store and avoid major chains that don’t specialize in pets. When I look for new food for my pets, I always look at the ingredients list. When it comes to pet food, they list the ingredients by weight. Avoid any foods where the first ingredient is corn or corn meal. These are filler ingredients that don’t do anything for your pet nutrition wise. I look at the first 5 ingredients to make sure they are healthy options.
Please note, if you see “meal” at the end of a food that’s okay! When you see “chicken meal” or “beef meal” that simply means that the food has been dehydrated and the moisture taken out. No water weight, all nutrition and protein!
Water Food and Bowl
This one is pretty simple. Make sure the bowl walls are not too high so your puppy isn’t struggling. Or, the opposite. My last dog was a Saint Bernard, so my family needed to invest in a set of water and food bowls that were lifted up to her, even at a very young age. It is very important especially with large breeds to prevent bloat or other digestive issues with any breed of dog to have the appropriate height bowls.
Variety of Toys
Toys are going to help keep your puppy entertained and help burn that puppy energy. When purchasing toys, pick a variety. You never know what your individual puppy will find the most fun. Do they like squeaky toys? Frisbees? Rope toys? There are so many to pick from. Toys are also helpful when it comes to puppy biting, when your puppy nips you, give them a toy instead! Also grab a few for teething, as your puppy will go through teething just like a human infant does. Having something like a soft rubber toy (you can typically find the puppy specific ones in softer colors in the pet stores) will help soothe their gums.
Note, I would advise getting some sort of chest or container to keep the toys in. Changing out the toys daily helps keep things mentally stimulating and they won’t get bored which can happen if they have access to all of their toys all of the time. It will also help your home stay cleaner!
Sturdy Leash and Collar
It’s going to be so tempting to buy all the cute collars that have the plastic buckle but those plastic buckles will wear over time and eventually will no longer hold, and they typically give when you need them to hold the most. I personally love the collars that have a metal belt type buckle on them. Nylon is great because it’s easily washed, and a leather collar is really sturdy and can also be wiped down easily.
When picking your leash, pick one that is about 6-8 feet long. Retractable leashes are hard to use when training your puppy and most dog trainers do not recommend them. They can also break if your dog lunges and pulls on the leash hard enough. Same as the collar, a sturdy nylon or leather leash will last you some time.
Make sure to pick the appropriate weight and thickness. A leash for a Shih Tzu or chihuahua will be much smaller and thinner than a leash for a Labrador Retriever.
Make sure to always have I.D. Tags on your puppy! Since they are so new to your home, if they accidentally run away they won’t know where to run back to. Talk to your vet about microchipping as well, as tags can fall off and are not a 100% way of getting your puppy back. Microchipping also helps if the unfortunate event happens that your puppy is taken, a vet will be able to scan the chip and see your information registered.
Again, a pretty straight forward item. With the cage, make sure it isn’t too big so they can snuggle up and stay secure. I would put a bed where you would like your puppy to rest as well if you do not plan to let them on the couch or your own bed. Look for ones that are easily cleanable, as puppies have accidents. I also advise not purchasing expensive beds for your puppy until they grow out of the chewing phase. I’ve personally lost many dog beds during this time!
Stain and Odor Remover
As mentioned before, puppies have accidents. Having a good stain and odor remover is important, because you want to make sure no odor is left behind. Not only for your own home, but once they smell the spots they pee they tend to go in the same spots again.
I hope this list and in depth dive to getting a puppy helps you and your family welcome the new bundle of fur! I want to end this article with an extra stress on thinking of training, grooming and veterinary care. Currently this article is being written October 2021, and animal professionals are currently overflowing with the rise of dog ownership due to the coronavirus. Depending on the times you get your puppy, sometimes contacting professionals weeks and months in advance is required. My grooming salon is typically booked weeks out, veterinarians booked out even longer. Do research and find each of these professionals that you want to work with either right when your puppy comes home or before, so when the time comes you won’t be stressed trying to find someone who can take your dog on short notice.
We have all seen the rise in CBD products for humans all over the place. From massive retail chains like Kroger and Walgreens to small individual owned gas stations, there is no denying humans are looking for more natural ways to take care of our bodies.
So when human pet parents experience benefits from using CBD, it’s only natural to wonder if this would be a good fit for their pets as well. When my own dog was diagnosed with cancer, it was an avenue I personally took with my own dog to help her feel better in those hard times. I will make a note here that she was also taking prescribed medications from the veterinarian, so there is no way to tell what truly helped the most. Either way, from my experience I felt she was calmer, less stressed and more comfortable.
In this article I’m going to go over all the information that I found about CBD for dogs, so you can make the right decision if it is the best fit for you and your pet. Although I promise that I did as much due diligence as possible in my research for this article I need to emphasize that I am not a veterinarian. My hope is that you can take this knowledge to your vet, and work together to find what product is going to be best for your needs. Another note is that this information is only pertaining to dogs, no other animal. If there is interest in other animals I would be more than happy to write an article if I can find any information out there.
What is CBD? What is it used for?
CBD stands for Cannabidiol, and is derived from the cannabis plant. This part of the plant contains no psychoactive agents in it. Most CBD gathered for dogs comes from a hemp plant, which simply means they are a group of plants that contain less than 0.3% THC (healthline.com).
As I dove into the research for CBD consumption by dogs, I quickly learned that the research is still very new and not much has been done. Healthline.com and mbglifestyle.com both state that although the little research done is very promising, most has also been funded and done by the companies who make the products themselves. Healthline also stated that as of 8/1/2019, there were no FDA approved CBD products for dogs. However, when purchasing products you can always look for a seal from the NACS (National Animal Supplement Council). This group, along with other organizations have been verifying and approving cannabis-derivatives to assist with a variety of pet health and behavioral issues (Pet Business Magazine). I will link all the different places that I went to for research at the end of the article!
Just like people, CBD is given to dogs for a variety of reasons. After diving into articles in magazines and online, the main reasons I found were for: Joint pain and mobility, pain management for cancer, anxiety and stress, bowel and stomach issues and last but not least epilepsy.
Lastly, please do not give your dog people grade CBD products! The processes used to create products for people and dogs are different, along with how much dosage is in each product. Always read the packaging before giving any CBD products to your dog.
How should I give my dog CBD? And how much?
One of the most wonderful things about CBD for dogs is that it comes in so many varieties. In the article I found by Pet Business, I came across numerous ways to help your pet receive the benefits of CBD: Oil tinctures for dogs, treats, shampoos, soft chews, and supplements. I recommend looking into the effectiveness of each product before using it. In my research it seemed like oils/tinctures and chews seemed to be the most popular forms to give dogs but it depends on what works best for you and your dog.
When it comes to how much to give your dog, the product itself should have instructions for how much to give your dog. If it does not come with any instructions, I would stay away! There are plenty of quality products where the companies took the time to test their products to know their maximum efficiency.
Healthline.com referenced a 2018 study done on dogs with osteoarthritis, which showed that 2mg per kg of weight was the most effective dosage that saw a rise in comfort levels. Recommendations state to start with a low dose and slowly work your way up to a higher dose. Monitor your dog so you can gauge how much to give them and if a higher dose is needed. Do not rush this process, depending on the way the CBD is administered the way it affects the speed of how fast it works.
Food for thought/ Take always
Overall, from my findings I found that CBD does generally have an overall positive effect on dogs.
When first starting to give your dog CBD, give them the smallest dose possible and watch to see how they feel. Also note when you gave them the CBD and what you hope the results will be. There can be adverse reactions to CBD which can include becoming lethargic, panting excessively, vomiting and drooling. You can overdose your pet with CBD oil! Our bodies process it differently than dogs, so it is very important to make sure your dog is reacting fine to it.
Now that I have finished up this article, along with having my own personal experience giving my own dog CBD treats, I feel confident that CBD is here to stay and will only continue to grow in pet stores and within veterinary offices as more research is being done. Keep your eye out, and always stay up to date on trends and research! I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to talk to your veterinarian before starting any new regiment of supplements or treats with CBD oil.
Brushing your dog is a key part of taking care of them. Not only does it feel really good to them, it helps you bond and strengthen your relationship. Brushing your dog also gives you a great opportunity to see how your dog is doing physically. Over time you will be able to notice subtle changes: new bumps or moles, if your dog is sensitive to touch in areas, if the skin is getting dry or flaky, etc. Bring these things up to your groomer, trainer or vet. It can make a huge difference!
Depending on the kind of dog and the coat type they, it will determine what type of brushes you should use and how often you should brush them.
So how often? Let’s cover that first! From my experience, I recommend a daily or every other day brushing for long hair dogs which I consider to be dogs like Poodle/Doodle, Shih Tzu, Yorkie, Maltese and such. Breeds with hair that grow continuously like ours.
And a weekly brushing for our short hair or double coated dogs. These are our shedders: goldens, labs, beagles, Shelties etc.
Brushing prevents matting, helps make coats shiny and soft, and lessens shedding.
CAUTION: With some brushes I am going to give special attention to “brush burn”. This is when a person brushes either too hard or too much in a certain spot and the skin becomes red and irritated. If the spot starts to become really irritated you will see dark red spots appear in the red area. If any irritation occurs, stop! Let this heal. There are products you can purchase online or at most pet stores for hot spots. Typically this comes in a spray or foam, and is used to help their skin feel better. I keep this on hand, as I never know how sensitive a dog’s skin can be to brushing. Always pause to check for redness. If your pet starts to fuss while brushing first ask yourself if you’ve recently checked the skin! Lastly, even if not mentioned brush burn can happen with ANY brush and ANY type of fur. There are certain brushes that may cause it more easily than others.
I will update the article with pictures as soon as I can gather up my tools!
Types of Brushes:
Slicker: This brush has small, fine metal bristles that are typically hooked on the end. This is used for helping to brush out mats on long coated dogs. Because of how close these bristles are and because normally these brushes do not have plastic tips on the bristles either, they can cause brush burn if used in the same spot for too long. They come in a variety of sizes and bristle length. Make sure you get one long enough that will get all the way through the coat to the skin.
Pin: Pin brushes are similar to slicker brushes. Typically round in shape, the bristles are more stiff, spread farther apart and have a cover at the end or are more rounded. They make these for people too, although I do not recommend using people brushes as they may break. These brushes are used for the silkier breeds, Silkie Terriers and Yorkies as some examples. Although you can use a slicker brush on these breeds, their fur is typically much thinner and can develop brush burn more easily, so the pin brush is easier on their skin. I also love to use this type of brush in the bath! I brush through the conditioner to make sure the dog is soft and tangle free!
Comb: For your dog, you should always use a metal toothed comb. You can find these at most pet stores and online! These are great for going in after using a pin or slicker bruck to find tangles or mats you may have missed. No need to try and get those out with the comb if they are too big, as it can pull on the skin. Take turns using your comb and brush to get out all the tangles and mats! They also make shedding combs which are metal and have 2 different sized teeth and are closer together to catch the undercoat, and are great for golden retrievers, shelties and similar.
Shedding Blade/Furminator: I decided to put all of these tools together because they are all very similar in both function and the types of breeds that use these tools. Shedding blades are metal and small v shaped teeth. You will see them in big loops with a handle for bigger jobs, but personally I avoid using these. The ones I would suggest have a wooden handle and are much smaller. Not sponsored in any way but I am in love with my SleekEZ brand. Anything similar would be great, I feel this just helps me make sure I get out more undercoat while being able to work around the dog’s skeletal structure better. Furminator is another name brand tool, but you can find others just like it. The Furminator is similar to the SleekEZ, but has a button to help release the hair from the brush. They come in more of a variety of sizes, and their packaging helps pet parents know which size is right for them! These are my go to’s for huskies, malamutes, heavy shedding labs, german shepherds, etc.
Bristle: These bristles are the closest together, and are typically made of plastic or natural fibers and are much softer. A lot of times you will find these made for dogs with a bristle brush on one side and a pin brush on the other side. Bristle brushes can be used for both long and short haired dogs! On long coated dogs after the de-tangling process to help make their coats shinier, and to help clean and deshed very short and smooth coated dogs like boston terriers, boxers, and italian greyhounds. These are great for those later breeds as most other brushes could cause brush burn on them as their coats are so fine.
Rake: These are metal toothed and come in a variety of styles, google “undercoat rake” and you will see what I am talking about. Like you will be able to see when I get this updated, my favorite has 2 rows of metal teeth, the front row is longer than the back. As suggested by the name, these are another tool for heavy shedders with double coats like Malamutes, Huskies, and Chows. There are also ones that typically have 1 row, and have a hook on every other or every third tooth. Be careful with these! It is very easy to cause brush burns and also called “dematting rakes”. I rarely use them, so just use caution when using them to be sure you use them on the correct areas and breeds of dog.
Rubber Curry Brush: These are rubber type brushes and are typically round and fit in your hand. Used on short coated dogs, I like to use them during the bath to help massage the dog and work the soap into the coat. It feels great for them and helps get a really good clean on them! I do not recommend using these on long coated dogs, pin brushes will give you this effect for those breeds! Rubber curry brushes can also be used on short coated dogs outside the tub on dry dogs to help remove dead skin and hair, and can even be used on breeds that use bristle brushes as long as you watch for skin irritation. Zoom Groom is a name brand item for these, and I do prefer these as I like the way they fit in my hand the style of rubber teeth.
These are the most common brushes that you will use at home! I hope I was able to cover most of the major ones, with recommendations on brands the best that I can! Please feel free to leave comments if you have any questions, I would love to answer them! Have a most wonderful day and I hope you and your pet enjoy many wonderful grooming sessions together!
You may not have known this, but February is Pet Dental Health Month!
Dental care is coming more and more into light these days and I’m very happy to see it. It has always been an area that I feel doesn’t get talked to pet parents enough by their groomers, because maybe even groomers don’t know much about how to maintain dental health for your pet to avoid bad breath, gum disease, tooth decay and very costly vet visits to get them cleaned or even pulled if the disease/decay progresses too far. I will have information for both dogs and cats in each section! I am not sponsored by any products talked about, and please remember that I am not a vet. Please make sure your vet is checking your pet’s teeth when going in for check ups!
Food Choice: There is a huge, detrimental, myth out there that feeding your pet dry kibble is going to hello scrape the plaque of their teeth. I hate to tell you this, but it’s the same thing as thinking that consuming pretzels and chips are going to do the same for us. Most dry kibble is filled with starch and fillers like corn which add to the growth of bacteria. Now, there is some kibble out there that is created to help with dental care but from what I’ve read most veterinarians recommended focusing on feeding a combination of high quality dry and wet pet food. The better quality food you feed, the less fillers and additives that will coat your dog’s teeth and they will be a much healthier pet!
Treats: Although our pets’ food is not going to help their teeth, there are plenty of treats that do focus on this! These treats are hard, and shaped to help scrape off plaque. Some popular brands are Dentastix by Purina, Greenies and Whimzee, with most brands selling a variation for cats and dogs. I trust you to read up on what brand works best for you and you pet! And please read the feeding instructions to make sure you are not giving your pet too many treats!
Toys: There are lots of toys designed to keep our pets teeth looking good! Both dog and cat toys exist and often are a hard but malleable runner with small spikes to clean their teeth. For dogs, rope toys are also great as they can act like floss in a sense. I’ll throw in hard bones and antlers here for dogs, and I have recently read that some cats do enjoy chewing on sticks that would help too! Pet safe bones and sticks of course!
Toothbrush/Toothpaste: Now, I’m not sure why but it feels most pet parents just don’t seem to think daily brushing with a toothbrush and paste is possible. But you can make it a part of your nightly routine! Now, when beginning to get your pet used to having their teeth brushed I would avoid using mint flavors. I can only speak from personal experience but most dogs react the best to peanut butter flavored toothpaste! This seems like it wouldn’t really help the smell so much, but having that bacteria cleaned out will really help! Although I do not groom cats, I would still avoid mint. Try chicken or seafood flavored! If your pet just will not let you use a toothbrush at first, try using a dental finger brush. They slide right over your finger and are a soft rubber with soft bristles. Pet toothpaste is safe for pets to consume so no need to worry about them swallowing their toothpaste!
Dental Gel/Water Additives/Fresh Breath Sprays: Starting with what I feel is the most important item in this section, dental gel. I love gels myself, as it helps loosen plaque build up and kills germs and bacteria. Most gels will tell you to wait 30 minutes before they can eat or drink (which are the same instructions for most human mouth washes!). I really feel this is great to pair with toothbrushing since it can be hard to get every area of a pet’s mouth! Water additives are another area, and what is great is now they have additives that not alone focus on your pet’s dental health but can also help with skin and coat, digestion, and other areas. Always consult your vet if you have any questions about what would help your pet with their specific needs! And please read those instructions to know how much and how often to add these to your pet’s water. Lastly, the spray. These sprays help keep your pet’s breath minty fresh while also killing bacteria. Just a spray or two is all you need! When I use this on dogs (sorry cat owners, I’ll update this when I try this with my cat), I usually try and go for the sides of the mouth instead of straight on. You will avoid a lot of accidental sprays in your dog’s nose that way!
I’m sure there are some specific toys and products that I missed in this list, but I hope this helps you take better care of your pet’s teeth! A personal goal that I am going to start doing this February for my kitty is to pick 2 different methods ex. New dental toy along with dental gel. I hope to keep her teeth healthy right alongside you all! Always feel free to reach out with questions, but again any medical questions or specific to your dogs teeth will have to be answered by a veterinarian.
I have met quite a few pet owners and groomers alike who say “dogs just don’t like their feet touched”. I want to tell you that this is a myth! Any dog at any age can get used to having their paws touched and nails done.
Getting your dog’s nails trimmed at the groomer or vets office does not have to be an anxiety ridden, bad experience. Most of the dogs I groom generally don’t mind having their nails done and their experience in the salon is much better because of it!
Nail trimming is a very important part of the grooming process. Overgrown nails can splinter and break, which is painful especially if it opens the vein in the nails known as the quick. Overgrown nails also make it difficult for your dog to walk, their toes and knuckles bending in ways they weren’t meant to do for extended periods at a time. This can lead to inflammation and discomfort, and sometimes even arthritis.
Here are some ways to get your dog used to those nail trims! This is broken down first to puppies then next to adults, as adults typically need a bit more training to get used to the nail trim but please know that they can definitely get used to it! Both tips use nail clippers and your pups favorite treats!
Above all, be safe. If your dog is showing signs of aggression or extreme fear, contact a local behaviorist to work together as your dog may need a tailored plan specific plan.
*Start by playing with your puppy’s paws and giving treats when they let you hold them. Work the toes and all the pads, putting pressure on the nails too!
*If your puppy starts to pull away, that’s okay. Let them go and resume the training when they have settled down. Do not force them.
*Once your puppy is used to you touching their paws (this could take a few sessions), show the puppy the clippers and give them a treat.
*Touch the clippers to their paws, praising them when they do not pull away. Also be mindful of the curious puppy! They may try and mouth the clippers, make sure to stop praising if this happens. We want them relaxed when the clippers touch their feet!
*Gently clip off the tip of the nails to start. Again, if your puppy becomes startled or pulls away let them go. Do not scold them for pulling, but give lots of praise when they let you clip their toes!
Puppy training, if done early, should be fun and relatively quick as long as it is done in a positive manner!
But say you have an adult dog that is already adverse to having their paws touched and nails clipped. It will take longer than with a puppy in most cases, but it can be done!
*Start when you and your dog are relaxing together, touch their shoulder gently with light pressure.
*Work your way down to their legs to their paws. If your dog starts to pull, stop and let them relax again. Also withhold treats and praise until you resume. Continue to do this until you can get all the way down to the paw. Use soothing, long tones when praising as you pet and give treats.
*When you get to the paw, start working each toe and putting pressure on them. Put pressure on the toenails themselves. Again, if your dog pulls or begins to stress out let them relax before trying again. Before moving on to the next step your dog should be completely relaxed when you touch their legs and feet. Remember to praise your dog when they give you their paw or let you hold it!
*Next, time to get them used to the nail clippers! Don’t worry, you still won’t be clipping those nails for a while.
*Pull out the clippers, show your pup and give them a treat. Remember to be happy when you pick those clippers out! Pretty quickly your dog will associate you pulling those nail clippers out with a treat. This step can also be done first, and is sometimes encouraged to do first as this typically goes faster and will help you stay motivated with training!
*Time to put these together. Sitting relaxed with your dog on the floor, hold your dogs paw in one hand and hold the clippers in another. Slowly bring the clippers towards your dog’s paw while playing with the other and giving praise if they stay relaxed. Also be sure to open and close your clippers as well so they get used to the noise. Let your dog pull away if they start to get restless, and resume later when they have settled down.
*Continue this until you can touch the clippers to your dogs nails and they are completely comfortable with them. You want to be able to touch the clippers to each nail and your dog be calm. Now is when you can attempt the nail trim!
*Trim just the tip of the nail, keeping at a 45 degree angle as to make sure you do not expose the quick. Also, don’t expect to get all paws done on one sitting.
**A key tip is to also keep your dog’s anatomy in mind! They will fight you a lot less if you are not pulling their legs out in ways that may be uncomfortable. You may not even realize you’re doing this! I recommend going on Google, Pinterest or other search engines to find pictures of dog anatomy and a close up picture of a dogs’ nail. This will give you a better idea of how you can help them stay comfortable and about how far you can trim on your dog’s nails.
**Beware dull nail clippers! Either have nail clippers sharpened or replaced when dull. Using dull tools makes it harder for you and more uncomfortable for the dog due to the extra pressure needed for trimming.
And there you have it! Don’t feel bad in the slightest if nail trimming just makes you too nervous, that’s where your local groomer can help! Just getting your dog up to that step will help your dog enjoy the groomers much more! They may also be able to grind/file the nails, helping to keep them smooth instead of sharp after they are cut. Taking your dog in once a month will keep your dogs nails at a healthy and manageable length.
Please feel free to reach out via comment or email with any questions you may have about this or other pet grooming related topics!