Grooming is also the perfect opportunity for you to check your dog over to ensure he's healthy. Giving him a once-over also enables you to check for any balls of matted fur between his paw pads, which can sometimes become hard with dirt and grease, causing discomfort.
On an emotional level, grooming reduces stress in both parties, helping dog and owner to relax and build up a close bond. When you groom your dog regularly - start when he's a pup to get him used to the procedure - you'll get to know him better, both physically and mentally.
Grooming at home
Set aside some time each day for a grooming session and make it part of your daily routine. Choose a time to groom when your dog is relaxed and settled, rather than when he's in the mood for fun and games. Lots of praise and a few treats can turn a stressful situation into a special occasion. Get puppies used to grooming and being handled from an early age. This will pay off when your adult dog starts to visit a professional groomer.
It's also important that you're relaxed and stress free - refrain from grooming your dog when you've just got home from a bad day as you're more likely to be short-tempered and irritable. Instead, go for an invigorating walk beforehand to blow away the cobwebs, then settle down for a grooming session. Gather all the tools you'll need so they're to hand - keep them in a box or bag so they all stay in one place and you don't mislay anything. Different coat types will require different types of brushes - make sure you have the right brush to suit your dog's coat.
Grooming isn't just about looking and smelling good - it's also important for your dog's well-being. Before you begin, check him over for any lumps and bumps, cuts and grazes, or skin problems. Also check for fleas or ticks, blocked anal glands, dirty ears, look at the condition of the eyes, and general overall condition.
Hairy feet can mean that long claws are missed - remember to check your dog's claws every week.
What to have in a basic grooming kit
Although the types of brushes you need will depend on your dog's coat type, these tools will come in useful for most dogs:
- Detangling spray
- Fine comb
- Wide-toothed, coarse metal comb
- Ear drops
- Ear and eye wipes
- Small scissors
- Soft slicker brush
- Doggy toothbrush and toothpaste
- A grooming rug/non-slip rubber mat
Know your coat
The type of grooming brushes you use will depend on your dog's coat type:
- Silky coat
- Curly coat
- Double coat
- Wire coat
- Smooth coat
Why visit a professional dog groomer?
Some dogs will need to visit a professional groomer, depending on their coat type. Long-haired dogs and those with busy, active lifestyles will need a groom more frequently than shorter-haired dogs or those with inactive lifestyles.
For smooth-haired breeds such as Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Jack Russells, or Whippets, it's not as essential to go to a professional groomer every time. These types of breeds can easily be groomed and bathed at home. If you're planning on showing your dog it's best to visit a groomer who's experienced with your particular breed. Show styles will change slightly every so often, so a breed-specific groomer will be able to give you advice.
There are many benefits to visiting a good groomer. A professional clip will enhance your dog's coat and the tools and equipment used in a salon are generally better and more high tech.
Mark Davies, from Allbreed Grooming Academy, in Brierley Hill, West Midlands, said: "A good groomer will have knowledge of a breed and the skill to trim a dog to make him look balanced. A professional groomer will be able to enhance the coat for a specific dog so he can look his best, rather than using one cut to fit all of the same breed. They will use the best shampoos and conditioners and can identify which shampoo would be best to enhance a coat type."
"Sometimes, people can be blasé when checking their dogs; an experienced groomer may spot something the owner has missed. This could be something as minor as fleas or a lump that's hard to spot. Going to a groomer also provides the opportunity for social interaction with other dogs which can be a good experience for them."
Dog groomers will soon be able to sign up to a new voluntary quality assurance scheme. The Quality Assurance Standard for Groomers is being rolled out by the Pet Industry Federation (PIF) in a bid to help owners choose a suitably qualified dog groomer.
The UK pet grooming industry is currently unregulated; anyone, regardless of experience, training, or qualifications, can set themselves up as a groomer. The aim of the scheme is to ensure groomers and staff are trained and competent and that they adhere to current legislation.
The standard consists of an independent audit of a grooming business, covering areas such as animal welfare, staff training, equipment, and health and safety. Star ratings linked to a groomer's qualifications and experience will go hand in hand with extra information about the business.
Alexandra Baker, PIF communications manager, said details of the audit were still to be finalised before the scheme was rolled out to groomers later this year. She said a number of groomers had already expressed an interest in signing up to the scheme.
The move follows a number of negative media reports about pets being injured or killed in grooming salons, including the death of a Lhasa Apso earlier this year, who had to be euthanised after sustaining horrific burns from an industrial hairdryer. "We have been looking to introduce some sort of regulation for a while," said Alexandra.