Brushing our dogs often feel like something that comes out of necessity to keep our home clean. The more we brush, the less our dog sheds. And if you let your dog sleep on the bed or sit on the couch, excess fur can be an enormous pain to clean.
But brushing our dogs isn’t just about keeping fur out of our home. It’s also about keeping our pets happy and healthy.
Which brush is best?
If you’ve stood in front of the brush section at your local pet store, it can be a little intimidating. There are dozens of different brushes with different methods of cleaning. It feels like a new design comes out each time I look up. But what it comes down to is the type of breed.
Long hair breeds like border collies and golden retrievers need something that can cut through the hair without causing it to tangle. Pin brushes are most popular for these breeds, but some bristle brushes can get the job done and be more comfortable for your dog. If you have a long hair breed like that, you can learn more here about which brush is best.
For short coats, a short bristle brush is best. But the latest fad of using brushes built into gloves have been great. For short wiry breeds like terriers, a slicker brush is needed. You can follow that up with a comb.
Why do I need to brush?
Getting rid of mats
Mats are painful for your dogs to live with. It feels like someone is constantly pulling on their hair. This is particularly an issue with older dogs who may have trouble keeping themselves as clean as they used to be.
Bringing out the natural oils
For a shiny coat, you need to bring out the natural oils in your dog’s fur. Regular brushing is the best way to do this.
Checking for health issues
Unusual bumps on your dog can sometimes be a sign of something serious. And the earlier they’d detected the better. Brushing your dog regularly allows you to come across any irregularities and get to the vet for further investigation.
Keeps them cool in the summer
This hits home as the weather cranks up to 100 degrees here. A thick unkempt undercoat can cause your dog to overheat in the Summer. Especially true with breeds like corgis. It’s important to brush and keep air flow to their body when it’s warm out.
Any time you can do an activity with your dog, it’s a chance to bond. Your dog will hopefully enjoy the experience and form a closer bond with you. This is a great way to ingratiate a new puppy into your home.
How do I brush?
The act of brushing is rather simple and people tend to overthink it. You want to brush down and out from the body. Sometimes lifting up the coat to get loose hair underneath.
But the most important tip is to be gentle. Make them enjoy the experience. The more they enjoy the experience, the easier it will be to perform in the future. I’ve found that taking regular breaks and rewarding them at the end with a treat works well too.
Do I need anything else?
If you run into excessive matting, there are a number of detangler sprays on the market that help a great deal. Also adding some conditioner afterwards helps smooth out the coat making future brushing much easier.
My dog won’t let me brush
Many of us have been through this. The dog either doesn’t enjoy the brushing experience at first or thinks you’re trying to play with them. They’ll try to grab the brush and run around when you bring them over.
This is a tricky issue to fix. One method is to focus their attention elsewhere. I’ve found bringing out a bone or pigs ear to keep them occupied works wonders. The dog is so entranced by the bone that they won’t care about the brushing.
But I think the easiest way to make it possible is to start young. They’ll get comfortable with the process and not mind as they get older.
As for older dogs who haven’t been trained, start slow. A light brush to start with and work your way up to firmer ones.
Or just have a professional do it
At least once a year I like to bring my dog in and have a professional do the work. This can be a pricey excursion, but they simply do a better job than I could ever manage. If you’re getting frustrated with their fur and having trouble keeping things in order, sometimes it’s best to take them in to a groomer and pay to have it done.