Dog Breed Info

Brushing

Brushing the coat is a necessary procedure for every canine in order to maintain healthy skin and coat. The amount of brushing depends upon the lifestyle, the length and the type of coat on man's best friend. The daily or weekly brushing routine requires a lot of interaction between the pet, the pet family and the professional. A dog that is groomed at home and in a salon on a regular schedule with the proper tools and techniques, coupled with praise and safe and gentle handling, will welcome the brushing sessions.

Why
The coat must be brushed to maintain healthy skin and coat.

When
The frequency of the brushing depends upon coat type and length and the lifestyle of the pet.

Where
The pet must be placed on the grooming and styling table to properly brush the coat.

Tools
There are a myriad of brushing tools for the professional to choose from for the grooming and styling process.  Like musical instruments, each tool is unique, but must be “played” in unison for optimum results.  It is the rhythmic interplay of rakes, gloves, brushes, and combs that maintains the dog's coat to enhance its natural beauty.  For the optimum finish, brushing stands alone. When choosing tools for brushing, select a variety of types and sizes to accommodate all size dogs and all coat types. Care for them as you would all equipment, keeping them clean and disinfected, and replacing them when worn.

Be Prepared for the Pet's Reaction
The professional must be prepared to react to the pet's reaction when brushing out the dog's coat, especially if the coat is matted, or if it is the first time grooming. If the brush catches a matt, the dog may react in a negative manner. One of the safest ways to begin brushing or to introduce the brushing technique to man's best friend is to start at the rear of the dog. Beginning at the rear of the dog to introduce a technique is always a safe procedure for the professional. The pet must be secured properly with the safety loop before starting.

Avoid pulling on the matts by using the proper tools, products and techniques and knowing your coat types. Many groomers form bad habits over the years and are not aware of these habits or how they appear until someone points them out. One habit that is very common with the "old timers" is using the comb to remove matts instead of a brush on undetermined coat types.This not only stretches the hair on the undetermined coat types, causing breakage, but it can also damage the skin by pulling large amounts of coat. Compassion for the pet must always be number one when performing any type of brushing procedure. Take the time when combing the coat to check for matts, and when you find one be sure to take the time to pick up a brush rather than pull the matt out with the comb on these coat types. Dogs with determined hair growth will not be affected because the comb is being used to help remove the shedding coat.

Technique

Understanding What a Brushing Tool Can Do
As a professional it is critical to know and understand what your brushing tools will do for you along with how to use them properly. Make sure you hold the brush properly so that the pins do not scratch the dog's skin. Take a few minutes to test your brushing tools and your brushing skills. Gently move each brushing tool along your arm so that you understand what the tool feels like. Apply a little pressure and move the brushing tool to different angles. As a beginner, monitor the angle of your brush at all times so that you create good brushing techniques. Avoid holding your hand in a pinched position, using your entire hand as much as possible. Keep your wrist straight and bend your elbow. Practice your brush strokes until you develop a gentle and safe, fluid brushing motion, keeping in mind that proper brushing of the coat on man's best friend is based on the correct techniques rather than brute force.

Repetitive Brushing
Avoid repetitive brushing in one area of the dog's body. Excessive brushing will cause skin irritations. Use thinning shears to break up matts to prevent repetitive brushing. If the condition of the coat requires extra brushing, protect the skin by holding the coat gently at the base to avoid excessive pulling and stretching on the coat that will damage the coat and irritate the skin. Use an outward brushing style to prevent the pins or bristles from scratching the skin.

Protect Sensitive Areas
Always protect the sensitive areas on the dog. Areas on the body of the dog that are very sensitive to brushing are around the eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Create a protective shield with your hand as you brush around these areas. Other areas on the body that are very prone to skin irritations due to brushing procedures include the armpits, stomach, rectal area, penis and vulva. Do not brush these areas; use a clipper with a #10 blade to remove excessive coat and matts. Avoiding brushing directly on the spine and hock area, especially on breeds with short coat.

Friction Areas
It is important to be aware of friction areas on the dog that are subject to matting. Behind the ears, armpits, under the tail and the stomach area are the most common. These areas are also very tender areas and are prone to skin irritation during brushing. It is more compassionate to clipper the matts out of these areas rather than brush them. When clippering these areas always use a close tooth blade to prevent cutting the skin, such as a #10 or #15. Avoid using a #40 unless the coat is so badly matted that your only option is to shave the matts out.

Basically there are two types of brushing techniques:

Procedure One - Top Brushing
Top brushing is a head to tail procedure which means that you always brush with the lay of coat. The professional begins at the occiput and brushes the top coat using precise, gentle strokes, brushing the neck area, body, legs and tail. Make sure to gently secure the skin when top brushing by forming an open "C" with your thumb and four fingers. Avoid securing the skin by grabbing it and making a fist.

Pet's Position: Standing
Professional's Position:
Front, Rear, Side, Front/Side, Rear/Side

Top Brushing Procedure

  • Using both hands gently massage both ears.
  • Gently secure the pet with one hand near the occiput using this hand to also hold the skin taut.
  • Begin at the occiput and top brush down the neck, body and legs to the tail.
  • Check the skin condition on the body as you work your way to the tail.
  • Use both hands after this procedure and give the dog an ear massage for allowing you to complete this procedure.

Procedure Two - Line Brushing
Line brushing is the standard technique used for brushing out most of the medium to long coat types. For example, line brushing would not be used on a Doberman, but would be used on a Golden Retriever. The line brushing technique requires the coat to be parted, sectioned and brushed. The coat is parted and then brushed from the base to the tip with ease.

Line brushing is a tail to head procedure but still always brushing with the lay of coat. The professional begins at the rear leg or the rear foot, taking small sections at a time and brushing from the base of the coat to the tip of the coat working your way up the leg until you have brushed the entire leg. Your next step is to go to the other foot and start the same procedure so basically there are a few steps to follow when line brushing and if you can follow these you will achieve the ultimate brushing finish. You must always begin at the rear or rear foot of the dog and work forward to the head brushing with the lay of coat. Make sure to gently secure the skin when top brushing by forming an open "C" with your thumb and four fingers. Avoid securing the skin by grabbing it and making a fist.

Pet's Position: Standing or Sitting
Professional's Position:
Front, Rear, Side, Front/Side, Rear/Side

Line Brushing Procedure

  • Gently secure the dog with one hand and use this hand to also hold the skin taut.
  • Begin at the rear of the dog on the lowest part of the leg that has long coat, depending upon the breed.
  • Brushing may begin on the foot area on a Shih Tzu or above the hock on a Collie.
  • Part the coat taking a small section at a time and brush from the base of the coat to the tip of the coat. Brush this section out completely.
  • Part another section of the coat working upward toward the body. Brush this section out completely.
  • Brush the entire leg coat on the outside and the inside.
  • Check the coat condition on the leg using a comb with the lay of coat.
  • Continue with the other leg with the same procedure.
  • Brush the body, beginning at the rear. Part the coat and brush in sections with the lay of coat working toward the neck area. Check the coat condition with a comb.
  • Begin with a front leg, parting the coat and working the coat up the leg remembering to brush with the lay of coat.
  • Repeat this procedure on the other front leg.
  • Proceed around the chest, neck and crest area brushing with the lay of coat.
  • Brush the coat on the head area using caution around the eyes, nose, mouth and ears.
  • Use both hands after this procedure and give the dog an ear massage for allowing you to complete this procedure.

Safe & Gentle Handling
Contrary to the belief of many groomers and stylists, excessive force is not needed to brush a coat out properly. Brushing requires patience and a routine. If not practiced properly, brushing can seem a very aggressive action when viewed by the pet family in a salon setting. The professional must concentrate on creating a kind and gentle facial expression along with smooth and fluid body movements when working around the dog. A creative way to develop this professional image during the brushing procedure is to use music to establish a rhythm as you gently but methodically work your way through the coat, using the music to set the pace.

Client Relations: Pet Family Education
Often times, pet families are not aware of the importance of maintaining the coat, especially on long coated types such as the Maltese, Shih Tzu and the Lhasa Apso. By the time the pet family realizes the need for brushing the coat, it is matted to the point that it is unbrushable and the pet must have all the coat removed, with the pet family in a state of shock, asking the question "why?" No matter what the professional says, it is very hard for the pet family to accept the procedure of clippering the entire coat off of their best friend. Pet families are embarrassed and often times the pet is traumatized by the shaving. Many will leave a salon searching for the groomer that will attempt to brush out the matted coat or after the pet is shaved, the pet families react in a very negative manner toward the salon, telling all their friends and families about the horrible experience that they had at this particular salon. In fact, it is a frequent comment by many new clients to a salon that their last experience with a salon was not good because they shaved their precious pet. Pet families in general have a hard time taking the blame or the responsibility for not maintaining the coat properly.

This is a very common scene in the average dog grooming and styling salon, especially on the coat types that have undetermined hair growth. It is imperative for a professional to educate the pet family on the need for proper care and maintenance of the skin and coat, especially families that arrive in the salon with new puppies. The professional must partner with these families to educate them on the importance of frequent grooming schedules in the beginning, to not only introduce the procedure to their new puppy, but to educate them on the importance of scheduling frequent grooming appointments during the time frame that the puppy sheds it coat to make room for the adult coat.

Pet Grooming Training