Brushing and combing your dog should be made into a pleasant ritual. Select a place to do the grooming-a chair, table, or bench will be satisfactory. Lift the dog onto the chair or table, talking to him, reassuring him that all is well. Let him know that he’s in for a treat, not an ordeal. Let him sniff each tool; the comb, brush, nail clippers, and scissors. It’s very important that he learn to associate these tools with a pleasant experience. Handle the situation with tact and care, and the pup will look forward to it. Botch the job and you will be looking for the pup the next time you bring out the grooming tools.
When brushing the puppy, stroke the brush with and against the lie of the hair. This will help to loosen dead hair and stimulate the skin. Use a brush with the correct bristle length; short for medium- and short-haired dogs, long bristles for long-haired dogs. If you do any combing, use a fine comb for the short-haired dog and a comb with widely spaced teeth for the long-haired, medium-haired, and wire-haired dogs. You can bring out the gloss in your dog’s coat by polishing with a flannel cloth or one of the commercial grooming gloves. These grooming gloves are available in pet shops or pet supply stores.
If you have a short- or smooth-haired dog, you will not have to worry about matted hair. But medium- and longhaired dogs do get tangled or matted hair from burs, paint, tar, chewing gum, or other sticky or prickly objects. Dried food will also contribute to matted hair, and this is common in puppies and very old dogs. Matted hair is not only unsightly, but it can pinch and irritate the dog.
If the hair is not too snarled, try combing out the mats. Do this gently. Hold the matted hair or tuft in one hand and gently comb it. If it is too tightly matted, you will have to cut it off. Use blunt-end scissors. Puppies are very quick and wriggly, so be careful not to jab your pup with the scissors. There’s very little danger with blunt-end scissors. Gently pull the mat away from the dog’s body, then carefully cut the hair between the skin and the mat or tuft. Avoid pulling or yanking the tuft; it hurts. Tar, paint, and other sticky or gummy matter can be softened with acetone (nail polish remover) and then combed out.