Some dogs need a lot more dog grooming than others, but every dog requires certain basic types of grooming to be done on a regular basis. These basics include combing or brushing, trimming the nails, cleaning the ears, checking the eyes, and a bath at least every once in a while. Periodic, regular grooming has several benefits for you and your dog, and they don't all relate to simply maintaining your dog's appearance and making him smell less "like a dog." In fact, regular dog grooming is a good way to get your dog accustomed to being touched and handled by people, which comes in handy at the vet's office or if you encounter dog-loving strangers while you're out on your walks. Regular, periodic dog grooming also enables you to physically inspect your dog's skin, coat, eyes, ears, feet, teeth, and so on, so that you'll be more likely to detect a developing health condition before it has the opportunity to get out of hand. Another big benefit of grooming your dog is the bond this establishes between the two of you.
Dog Grooming Basics
When you first start grooming your dog, keep each of your sessions short. You can gradually increase their length and do more as your dog gets used to the process and being handled.
Even if your dog requires only minimal grooming, there are certain things you should do on a weekly basis, including cleaning his ears and checking his eyes. And, you should check his nails at least monthly. Dogs that regularly walk on hard surfaces will need less nail trimming than dogs that are used walking on grass or sand. How often you should comb or brush your dog depends on the type of coat he has. Most dogs love being brushed, however, so you can brush him every day or two, even if your dog's coat is very short.
Begin each dog grooming session by giving your dog a quick overall inspection. Look at his skin, coat, teeth, gums, eyes and ears. Run your hands "against the grain" of his coat while you look for evidence of fleas, ticks or debris. At the same time, look for irritated areas and any scratches, cuts or other wounds on his skin. Look inside his mouth and check his teeth as well as the color of his gums, which should be a healthy pink. Check his eyes, which should be clear and free of any discharge. You should also check inside his ears, which should be clean and free of any dirt, built-up wax or debris. And, although it might be not one of your favorite things to do, lift his tail and check to see if your dog's anal glands are enlarged. In short, look for any visible problems, and consider making an appointment with your vet if you see any signs of potential trouble.
You'll need certain tools for dog grooming. The type of brush or comb you should use will primarily depend on your dog's coat. A metal comb with widely spaced teeth works well on dogs with short to medium-length coats, but a bristle brush or a brush that has round metal "pins" can also do a fine job. Wire-tooth "slicker brushes" or deshedding tools will lift out the dead hair from your dog's coat, but don't use one too vigorously because they might be sharp. If your dog's coat is very short and/or thin, or the dog himself is thin and doesn't have much "padding" to protect his sensitive skin, so you need to be careful when using a slicker brush or grooming rake because they can be painful and actually scratch the skin.
Some dogs are large enough that grooming them while they're standing on the floor is comfortable for both the dog and his handler. If you have a smaller dog, however, you won't want to bend over or sit on the floor during your dog grooming sessions. Instead, place a non-slip mat on a table and groom your dog while he's standing on the mat. He won't slip while he's on the mat and it will make him feel much more secure. Because it gives him a stable base and he feels safer, the mat can really decrease his squirming during your dog grooming sessions.