Grooming is a pleasurable social activity among wild dogs

CAREFUL: It´s easy to cut a vein when trimming a dog´s nails so use a professional.

GROOMING is a pleasurable social activity among wild dogs, carried out by mutual licking.

Primates engage in intense bouts of hair care and flea picking and horses love to nibble each other’s manes and backs. Grooming is, therefore, an important behavioural interaction between man and dog.

It also establishes us as the dominant one. The dog recognises this dominance when it “grooms” us by licking our hands and exposed skin, if we allow it.

The Zoom Groom, sold in most pet shops provides the ultimate massage and grooming experience for your dog. It has rubber “fingers” that reach through thick or matted hair to the underlying skin and gently pluck out dead hair and dirt.

Start grooming as early as possible. Check and handle the ears, eyes, teeth, and nails. All dogs need grooming, some more than others. Generally, the longer the hair, the more frequently the grooming will be required.

Introduce the brush and comb as a pleasant experience for short but frequent periods while the dog is still a puppy.

Even though not a lot of grooming will be required, this will result in a young adolescent dog not regarding the brush and comb as unpleasant and making grooming a struggle for you.

Do not wait until your dog becomes knotted and tangled or its fur is clogged with dried mud before you think of grooming it. This is the surest way to make your dog hate grooming. Badly knotted fur should only be dealt with by experts. Consult your vet or a grooming specialist.

Some breeds such as Cocker Spaniels, Yorkshire Terriers, Scotties, Schnauzers and Poodles need to have their fur trimmed regularly. Inquire if you are in any doubt.

Bathing regularly is not a good idea as a rule. Even dog shampoo removes natural oils from the coat and dogs do not have pores through which to produce more oil quickly. Over-bathing can cause skin irritations and a dull coat.

Have you noticed whenever you bath your dog, it goes straight out and rolls in the garden and makes itself all dirty again, or when you take it for a walk after rain, it finds a muddy puddle and rolls in it? Washing a dog washes away its identity, its smell. This can result in stress. The dog does not feel good or natural. So it rolls in dirt to try to get its identity back.

A similar thing applies when it rolls in dung. By nature dogs are hunters and instinct tells it that to get close to a herd to kill for food, it should smell like the herd.

Don´t forget that when nails are very long, cutting should be carried out by a vet because it is easy to cut into a vein in the nail, which causes bleeding as well as being painful. A vet will be able to cauterise it at once should this happen. The best way to keep your dog’s nails in trim is to take lots of walks on hard surfaces. If you do buy a special cutter from a vet or pet shop, only cut the very end of the nail. If the dog is nervous, handle its paws daily until it gets used to this, and then cut the claws on one foot a day.

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