Keeping My Dog Happy

by Rachel Musson

It’s that time of year where we set new year’s resolutions and plan for the year ahead; the excitement of a ‘clean slate’ awaits us.

Perhaps this year you will decide on a resolution which benefits your pooch as well as you? Maybe exercising more, teaching an old dog some new tricks or even combatting those tricky situations you try to ignore like trying to brush that tail without losing fingers or conquering stress-free nail trim.


Teaching your dog to accept grooming is essential for their welfare and something which should not be taken lightly. If we can make brushing, handling and nail trimming a pleasurable and positive experience for your dog then it makes everyone’s lives easier- for life. Hoping your dog will never get dirty, knotty, matted, without growing nails is just naïve and letting these issues escalate could not only result in costly vet bills but may also mean you are breaking the law.

Avoid unnecessary costs and stress by following our top tips below:  

-Know your dog: There are so many breeds! All dogs have different coat types and conditions which may mean different tools and equipment are needed to make the job effective and maintain your dog’s coat. Do some research about your breeds general grooming requirements.

-Find a qualified groomer: Choose and work with professional, qualified and kind groomers; Julie co-founded The Groomers Spotlight for this very purpose; giving owners the chance to check for qualified groomers in their local area. Find one best suited to your mutt’s needs

-Choose your equipment: Even having a quick look in pet shops and online, you’ll see there is an overwhelming number of tools - how will you decide what you actually need to buy? Talking to your breeder, groomer, pet shop staff and fellow breed owners can also help to make your selection.

-Additional products: Decide on any appropriate products to make the job easier: de-tangling sprays can be invaluable, distractions such as the use of licki mats full of tasty treats to switch the dogs mind onto the reward rather than a focus on what’s happening. Take a look at the fabulous ‘No More Knots’ product @mygroomerrecommends

-Break it down: We are all busy people, don’t stress and follow Julie’s mantra for manageable and easy brushing: Split your dog into parts for each day of the week and simply brush one part per day- 4 legs, 1 head, 1 tail and 1 body- in a week you’ve covered the whole dog!  

-Effective & kind handling: Nail clipping starts with a dog that’s confident to have his or her paws handled and played with. The same can be said about other aspects of brushing and grooming- your dog needs to at first, tolerate this handling and the ability to stand whilst we carry out these activities. Before you use any equipment, work on effective handling- always being careful to move the dog into natural comfortable positions and reward throughout. This can easily be done whilst snugging up on the sofa each evening or as part of a training session. The focus must be on enjoyment for the dog – find their motivation- chicken, squeezy cheese, balls- take your pick- and use it to your advantage! Even a few minutes a week will slowly show improvements, training doesn’t have to be lengthy for you and your dog to see the benefits

On a serious note, allowing your dog to experience discomfort from matting, skin irritations, and damage is not fulfilling the 5 welfare needs which is part of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Your ‘duty of care’ as an owner is to fulfil those needs. See our previous blog for more details.  It also serves as an excellent opportunity to health check your dog as you may notice any issues early preventing large vet bills - more on this another time!

Lastly, try not to look upon grooming as a chore but, as a way to build a positive relationship with your dog and spend quality time together. Get the family involved! Older responsible children could even be involved under supervision. Your dog will thank you!

 If there’s a New Year’s resolution worth keeping, it’s this one!

Happy brushing! 

For more information please see:

Julie’s brushing techniques video