As the Fur Flies

by Beth McEwen 

April showers may have brought May flowers, but more likely than not, pet owners are also dealing with muddy paws and the dreaded “spring shed.” The time you spend grooming your pooch at home is tremendous for bonding—and for saving a few bucks. Not only does regular grooming help control shedding, but it also helps our furry friends get more comfortable with being handled while allowing us to spot health problems before they get out of hand. All you need are the right tools and plenty of patience to keep Fido looking dapper and smelling like a rose!

Brushing the Coat

Regular brushing removes dirt and dead hair from your pooch’s coat, preventing mats and tangles. Depending what type of coat your pet has, you’ll need different kinds of brushes and combs to get the job done right. A metal comb is an effective tool for non-shedding smooth-coated dogs, while heavy-coated shedding breeds do well with a 2-in-1 Rake/Blade.

During season changes, do a thorough brushing to get rid of the thick winter undercoat so your pooch will stay cool for the warm weather ahead. After that initial deep clean brushing, a quick weekly session does wonders to keep shedding under control. Be gentle when brushing Fifi’s fur; if you find a tangle or a mat, avoid pulling it or cutting it out. Instead, head to a pet retailer and pick up a special brush or comb designed to remove mats.

Bath Time

Yes, it is possible to give your dog a bath and have it be a delightful experience for you both. Set out all the supplies first — shampoo, towels, etc. While armed with treats and plenty of patience, place your pooch in a tub or basin with just a few inches of warm water. Use a cup to pour water over your pup. If you have a gentle hand-held shower nozzle, that’s even better. Once your dog’s fur is wet, reach for the pet shampoo and lather up, avoiding the face, nose and eyes. Be sure to rinse them completely and dry thoroughly with a bath towel.

Nail Trim

A good, sharp bypass nail clipper (two cutting surfaces), a tube of styptic powder, a handful of yummy treats and a lot of patience are all that’s needed to keep up on nail trimming at home.

The real trick to stress-free nail trimming is building a solid foundation of trust with your dog. Try having your dog lie on their back between your legs, so you can give them tummy rubs while you work. From there, simply take small “bites” off with the trimmers until you begin to see the light pink-colored quick in the center of the nail.

Went a little too far? It’s OK—it happens! Keep calm, apply styptic powder to the bleeding nail bed, give Fido a handful of treats for being so brave and keep going!

Brushing Teeth

Regularly brushing your pup’s teeth dramatically reduces the risk of periodontal disease, which affects 85 percent of dogs over 4 years old. It might take several weeks to train your furry friend to warm up to the toothbrush, so start by putting some dog toothpaste on your finger and massaging his gums for a few seconds. You can gradually work up to using a toothbrush and brushing for 30 seconds on each side of their mouth at least every other day.

Remember to take it slow, keep it positive and laugh off your inevitable mistakes to ensure a delightful experience for both you and your pooch.

Happy grooming!

Beth McEwen

Beth McEwen, owner of Mind Your Manners Dog Training, has been working with dogs and their families for almost 20 years. Learn more at



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