Top brushing tips & tricks to put a Spring in your favourite pooches step

by Rachel Musson

Ready for Crufts 2024?

Were you one of the many thousands who watched or attended Crufts dog show? Whilst busily admiring those shining, flowing coats perhaps you were thinking how your hound might measure up? Let's get down to the nitty gritty of making brushing a show stopping success.

Successful brushing

For successful grooming your dog needs to be accustomed to being handled (see 'Keeping Your Dog Happy' blog), and then you can start introducing suitable tools for your dog's breed and coat type. Your local groomer and pet shop staff can help advise, but most longer coats are brushed effectively with a slicker brush and a comb (see picture).

Start by introducing the tools slowly, allowing your dog to sniff and explore them before putting them onto the coat. Then start with a short grooming session to let them get used to the process and the feel of the brush.  Build up slowly - and don’t forget to reward to build a positive relationship with brushing. This is especially important if you have provided a rescue dog with their fur-ever home. You won’t perhaps know their history and how they will respond to the grooming process.

Common mistakes people tend to make when brushing a dog is not doing it thoroughly enough, glazing over the top of the coat rather than brushing down to the skin, then wondering why the dog is still getting tangled and matted.  A good test is to see if your comb will go through it without getting stuck - if it doesn’t – the dog is NOT brushed so you need to continue the task. Remember if your dog wears a harness or coat regularly pay particular attention to those contact areas as the friction created when wearing these will cause knots. 

Too busy?

Split the dog up into 7 sections - one for each day of the week (4 legs, 1 body,1 head,1 tail) to make the deed more manageable. Make sure that you brush your dog in the direction of the coat growth, as we would do with our own hair, small amounts at a time; parting the coat will help. Taking too much at a time will be counterproductive and probably result in resistance from your pooch too! It helps to lift the coat, rest it on your hand and brush in sections, a little at a time, so it is all covered. 

Make it count

Here's how to make sure you are brushing correctly:

  • When you first begin to brush a dog's coat, if you listen carefully you will often hear a scratching sound where the pins are grabbing hold of the coat in order to remove tangles and straighten it.
  • As you continue to brush and break down the tangles this noise will reduce and finally, stop.

To make brushing more gentle and quicker use a quality detangle spray such as our ‘My Groomer Recommends,  No More Knots’ to assist and ensure the brush moves through the coat easily preventing tugging and make your dog more comfortable. A light spray is all that is needed then brush through.

By placing your palm under the coat you will protect the skin and prevent brush burn. Please see our handy video showing Julie brush out the gorgeous Douglas, the Bichon Frise to see this in action.

Be comfortable

If your dog likes to give you a little exercise at this point and turns this into a game of chase you might consider raising them off the ground to encourage them to stand still. You could use a table or work surface however you need to ensure you have a nonslip surface for safety such as a bath or a yoga mat. 

Mud magnet

If your dog is like a magnet to mud do remember that brushing a dirty, wet coat is going to be a lot harder than a clean one. Perhaps considering bathing or ‘spot cleaning’ your dog before brushing. It is a myth that dogs should not be bathed regularly. As long as you are using the correct dog friendly products then this is no problem. We have worked hard to create a fabulous shampoo to work in harmony with your dog's coat and make life easier for you – Get Me Clean Care & Detangle. Mix a capful of shampoo with a jug of water and you’re ready to go!


If your dog doesn't need a bath you can use Squeaky Clean Spot Wash soap bar to get to those mud ridden areas. Don’t forget to use a bath mat or a wet towel in the bath or showers to prevent slips and keep the dog calm. Working with a clean coat can make a world of difference.


Reward good behaviour

What’s in it for me?.... your dog might be asking, don’t forget to reward your dog throughout this process and yourself at the end of this hard work! Licki matts can be loaded with dog friendly peanut butter (remember Xylitol is poisonous to dogs so check the label), squeezy cheese, fruit or a meaty pate; or have some chicken or favourite biscuits at the ready at regular intervals to reinforce the good behaviour. You know your dog best - read their behaviour and try to understand when you should stop and try to be sympathetic with why they may be sensitive in particular areas, don’t just assume they are being difficult. Do you need to desensitise more, was there a previous injury or is there a problem such as a thorn or a tick in that area.

Why bother brushing?

On a serious note, a matted coat will do damage to the skin - knots and tangles left untreated will become larger unmanageable areas as the dog continues their coat growth cycle. The matt sits close to the skin and quickly collects dirt and debris. It is an ideal place to harbour bacteria and parasites due to the warm environment and lack of airflow. The skin underneath a matt can deteriorate, tear, bleed easily and is painful for your dog. In these situations it is best to consult a qualified groomer - use The Groomers Spotlight to help locate one in your area - to help. Grooming is an unregulated industry meaning anyone could set up as a groomer with no training! You are trusting them with your pet, your family member, so you must be confident they are knowledgeable and professional.

Your dog may not be entering Crufts but you owe it to them to be comfortable and you can be proud when you walk down the street!

Happy brushing!