Hi there, Terrie from TLC Dog Grooming to continue our sharing of tips and tricks for you and your dog this winter. We’ll discuss the struggle, and I’ll give you an action plan.
Our last few articles have addressed maintaining a winter grooming schedule, preventing snow and ice balls in your dogs feet, and getting better results brushing and combing your dog. Next, we bring you an action plan to make you a rock star in preventing matted hair, knots, and tangles on your dog.
The Struggle with Curly-Coated Dog Hair
Oh the pain and frustration of the Doodle owner, or the curly-coated dog owner in winter. It’s October and the temperatures are getting a bit chilly. You’ve been growing coat on your dog since last August or early September, and it’s oh so soft and fluffy. Your dog looks like a teddy bear that has come to life and you love, love, love it.
Then November hits and with it comes sideways rain and even colder temperatures. You’re a dedicated and committed dog owner Not one of these fair weather walkers. Nope, you’re out there everyday making sure that your pooch gets their fun and exercise in. Add an extra layer, maybe a rain jacket on top, you’re good to go. The dog could care less about the weather. They’re going for walks and fun, life is GOOD!
Then one fine Sunday morning you wake up to a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. You enjoy watching the dog leaping, rolling and doing the “Zoomie” laps around the backyard. Oh what fun. The snow doesn’t melt and you’ve carried on with your regular routine of walks, plays, maybe a hike or two. You haven’t really carved out the time for brushing and combing because it’s not your favourite activity, it’s a pain in the neck, honestly. There doesn’t seem to be time for brushing and combing because by the time you have all the snow and ice balls melted from the post dinner romp…..it’s nearly 10:00 pm. Everyone is exhausted, forget the brush and the comb! “We’ll do it tomorrow.” You say to yourself. But tomorrow turns into the next and before you know it, 3-4 weeks have passed and you still haven’t spent much time brushing and combing, if at all, really.
Does this feel like your story?
Doesn’t matter if you have a Doodle, a Poodle, a Shih tzu or a Havanese. Got curly kinky hair? Have matted curly kinky hair in the blink of an eye, especially when it’s wet. Add snow and all heck breaks loose in pleasantville. The snow gets a dog owner every single time, and it drives them bonkers on what to do about it.
Long Locks and Trade Offs
They want a longer coat because that is their preferred style. They worry about the dog getting cold. But the trade off for long locks is. . .
- More brushing and combing at home.
- More bathing to keep them clean and stink free.
- More frequent visits to the salon to help you maintain what you want.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
This is definitely one of those times when the communication between you and your groomer of choice is REALLY important. You need their help. So that means you have got to listen, and if you don’t understand, ask. Keep asking until you feel confident that you do understand.
Your groomer wants you to have the look and style that you want and they are more than happy to support and assist you in achieving it. Trust and action equals favourable results, hands down. It is also helpful to understand that you can still have a considerable amount of coat on your dog AND have a style that suits you AND have that style not hold you prisoner to the brush and comb.
Here is a common example I struggle with dog owners to understand. They don’t want any length taken off of the dog when they come in for their appointment. They just want what we call here a “Face, Feet and Fanny.” Which essentially means that no hair comes off the body or the legs. We just touch up the face, the feet and a little bit around the rear end.
If the dog has matting in the legs, feet, armpits, rear end, behind the ears, the ears itself, the neck, chest and beard. Which they commonly do, especially the Doodle breeds. When those mats are already present at THIS length, it is a clear indication that the owner is not capable of managing what they already have. They are often very insistent that they don’t want the hair cut short. Here’s the tricky part. If the owner would agree to have the hair cut down just a tiny bit. They could manage the coat much more easily.
Try and realize that grooming and haircut do not mean SHORT. We can only do amazing beautiful things when we have a coat that can be worked with. Or another way to put it is……if I have to dematt a dog extensively before the clippers and scissoring work. I know that the next time I see that dog, they will be 50 times more matted than what is in front of me today. Add in rain and snow or both and it will be a train wreck. Then I will have no choice but to go short for that visit.
THIS is the trap that ohhhh so many dog owners get caught up in.
Let me introduce you to Archie. He’s a favorite around here. The video below is from last year and shows just how quickly those matted trouble spots can form on a doodle when brushing and combing takes a backseat.
It’s just too much for most pet parents to cope with. However, when I can get a dog owner to agree to let me cut an inch or an inch and a half off? We are getting somewhere. They will still have lots of coat. Their dog will still look handsome or pretty. They will be less frustrated in trying to cope with matting from the snow and the rain. When they allow me to follow through on my recommendations, they dodge the short haircut bullet later.
Yes, they may have to bump up their visits to us, yes that is true. Which is the trade off folks. The longer the style, the more coat, the more frequent visits. Unless of course, you are a master brusher and comber at home. No offense, but I have only met TWO of those people in two and a half decades in this profession.
No shame intended. It’s a difficult job, it takes skill, it takes patience, consistency with an openness to learn AND keep consistent. I feel that pet parents that keep their dogs in full coat for their breed standard or with a longer style, without matted hair, or knots and tangles, are absolute rock stars.
There’s a learning curve and that is what I love to teach people.
The Grooming Action Plan
It’s a big struggle for pet parents. Doesn’t matter if we’re talking about Doodles, Poodles, Malteses or Bichons. If the dog loves snow and so many of them do. Then the owner has got to come up with a strategy, a routine, a plan, implement it, and stick with it.
Here’s the plan:
#1. Decide what is a comfortable length of coat for you and your dog.
#2. Share this with your groomer of choice and ask them for their recommendations on:
A. Frequency of visits to the salon.
B. Number of times you should be brushing AND combing on your own at home.
#3. Make sure you have the proper tools in your kit:
A. A good slicker brush.
B. A metal “Greyhound” Comb.
#4. Do your work on a flat, raised, level, non skid surface.
#5. Keep your dog clean and make 100% certain that you never forget or omit to brush and comb after the bath.
#6. After a romp in the snow make certain you brush and comb after you have the snow melted. Whether you do the work when the coat is wet or dry is up to your preference.
#7. If you can run your greyhound comb over your dog from head to tail, down the sides, over the legs, feet, tail and rear end and not get any snags?! You are golden. Got a snag? Brush that area out and repeat until the comb no longer snags.
#8. If you find you are spending more time managing your dog’s coat than you are enjoying having fun and games with him or her. Talk to your groomer about what they can do to ease your burden of work and still create the look and style you desire. Trust me, groomers are wizards, they can and will help you.
#9. Consider a de-matting spray. Don’t go nuts, of course, but a bottle of good de-matting product spray is A-Maz-Ing!!!
#10. Try and keep a consistent routine of regular grooming. Why?
A. So you don’t forget.
B. So your dog understands the consistency and routine of grooming is just a normal part of their lives.
C. You will spot trouble areas quickly and be able to deal with them immediately, thus eliminating the chance of bigger troubles later on.
D. The more you work on this, the better, faster and more confident you will become with practice.
Ready for a demonstration? Our next set of videos will cover properly brushing the doodle hair with our beloved salon client, Archie. Stay tuned!
I also wrote a short article sharing details on WHY it’s important to brush and comb your dog after every bath. Check it out here if you haven’t already:
The Importance of Brushing and Combing Your Dog After Every Bath
I hope you’ve found this information helpful. Let us know how this strategy is working out for you and your dog. What’s working for you? What’s not working for you?
I’d love to hear back with your questions, comments and concerns about the grooming needs of your dog. Whether you are looking to bump up your game in between professional dog grooming visits at home. Or you are a complete 100% DIY’er…….your feedback and questions, help me help others.
For more grooming tips, techniques, and answers to common challenges, hop on over to our Consumer Education page. I also share a lot of behind the scenes from my shop on both Facebook and YouTube. I’d love to see you there.
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