Dog Grooming: What's the first step when trying to groom your dog? How do you go about it? How often do you wash them? These are just some of the thoughts that race through most people's minds when it comes to grooming their dog. Here I've listed 7 tips that will help with your doggy's grooming.

1. Start young  Most people when they get a new puppy concentrate on mastering the basics of sit, stay, down etc but it's always best at this time to get them used to the idea of grooming and baths. During this stage of a puppies life you should take care to get your dog used to you patting him everywhere including his paws, tail, ears and inside his mouth. Start slowly and for small amounts of time. Make it fun for them and make sure you don't push it. Handling them this way early on will get them used to you touching them there so that when you have to clean their ears or cut their nails it's a much easier process on the both of you.

If you got your dog when they were older and not when they were a puppy then these steps are still possible but you should make sure you establish trust before attempting them. Just think: If you had just moved into a new home and someone tried looking in your ears or touching your feet, would you like it? I know I wouldn't! So go slow, build trust and introduce everything in small amounts. You can also use use treats to help them associate it with something positive.

2. Brush before bath time  Brushing before bath time helps get rid of mats and clumps of fur. It's also easier to untangle clumps before they get wet as opposed to after. If you wait until after their bath it's harder for their fur to dry and when it does the fur becomes even more difficult to brush out, making it a more unpleasant experience for your pet and for you.

3. Bath time  Depending on the type of dog you have its generally recommended to bath a dog once every 2-3 months. Of course if your dog has a longer coat, gets smellier more often or is frequently getting dirty you will have to adjust when you bath him.

Lukewarm water is best, no one likes a cold shower! You should also use a dog shampoo and not a human one as they can dry out your dog's skin and cause itchiness. A slip proof mat is a good idea to give your pet a secure place to stand.  And personally my dog used to hate having his head wet so I would shampoo and rinse his body, tail and legs first. After that was done I would wash his face, taking care not to get any water in his eyes or ears. I found it less stressful on him to do his baths this way. Then it was a quick towel off, a treat for being such a trooper and he was on his way.

Be sure to stand back at this stage as they will shake that excess water off on you:)

4. Brushing  After bath time, when your dog is dry,  it's a good time for one last brush, especially if they are malting. Take care when untangling knots. Hold the fur at the base and gently comb out the knot. No one like having their hair yanked! Try out different types of brushes and combs until you find the one that works best for your dog. You may even end up using a couple of different ones for different situations.

 5. Nails  This is where getting your dog used to you touching his paws comes in handy. He'll be much easier for you to handle trimming his nails if you've prepared him properly. If you haven't yet that's ok. Just build up to it gradually. Start by running your hand up and down your dogs legs and touching their paws and the pads of their feet. Make sure lots of praise and treats are involved. This will usually take more than one session for them to feel comfortable with so patience is key here. Once they are comfortable with this type of handling you can bring out the nail clippers.  Again go slowly with the nail clippers, especially if your dog had black nails, as you don't want to hit the vein and hurt your dog.

6. Ears  If your dog has long or droopy ears its always a good idea to check them and give them a quick clean out to prevent any infections. Use a cotton ball moistened in water to gently remove the waxy build up but don't go too far down his ear canal as you could end up hurting him. If you notice an usual smell or discharge coming from his ears then take him to the vet.

7. Patience & Praise  Bathing and being groomed can be a weird experience for pets so it's important to introduce it slowly to you dog and at a pace they are comfortable with. Praise and treats will also help in this process too. Ultimately being patient with your pet, introducing touch, making them comfortable each step of the way means that you will be rewarded later on by having an easy to manage, well behaved dog who breezes through his grooming sessions.

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