Muddy Mutleys

Dog Training & Behaviour Specialists

Some Help with Grooming

Regular grooming is not just about keeping the coat looking pretty and free of tangles.
Regularly grooming your dog will provide a fabulous bonding experience and give you the
opportunity to check them over for any lumps or bumps, cuts or grazes, ticks, or grass
seeds and fleas etc.

Grooming is not only about the maintenance of physical health but also emotional health.
One of the ways that dogs will often try to reduce their own anxiety is through grooming
themselves. Grooming will stimulate blood flow and the sebaceous glands in the skin
keeping the skin lubricated and healthy.

A useful acronym to remember regarding grooming is CHAIR
Cleanliness, Health, Appearance, Inspection and relationship.

There are many things to consider when choosing a groomer. Select one that is the right fit
for your dog and their personality. Choose someone that you feel that you can build a
partnership with.

Is your dog wary of other dogs (all or just some)?
Is your dog reactive to people?
Is your dog worried by lots of noise?
Does your dog have sensitive skin?
Does your dog have any allergies?
Does your dog have any joint issues?
Does your dog suffer from separation anxiety?
Is your dog wary of water?
Is your dog very strong especially when anxious?
Do you require a breed standard style or a pet groom?
Ensure that you book your appointments in advance.

It’s important to get our puppies comfortable with handling and being brushed as early
as possible. We really want to set them up for positive associations with grooming for
their lifetime ahead, whether this is at home or at a professional groomer.

Get them used to soft touching of their paws, around their tail area, their ears and
around their mouth and gums. Soft circular motions are good, touch them for a second
or two, then remove your hand and watch their reaction, praise calmly for calm relaxed
behaviour and give them a little treat. Do just a little each day, on one area a day, slowly
building the duration.

Take your puppy to say hello to the groomer as soon as they have had their final
vaccinations. Find a groomer that offers several short sessions, building in duration and
exposure to various elements of the groom.

Puppy socialisation packages will include gentle and controlled exposure to the bath, to
the table, to the sounds of the clippers and dryers, to the feel of the clippers against
their body and legs, nail clipping, the sounds of the scissors etc. A good groomer will take
this at each puppy’s pace. During all of these sessions the groomer will be monitoring
your pup for signs of anxiety and stress and will work to build a relationship of trust.

Desensitisation involves very slowly introducing elements of a grooming experience
without rushing or overwhelming your dog. It is really important that the dog’s reactions
and body language and calming signals are monitored all of the time and if needed the
session should go back a step or two until your dog is more comfortable.

Desensitising to a brush

Start with the brush behind your back at an appropriate distance away from your dog.

Bring the brush out to the side of you

Verbally reward any relaxed behaviour. If your dog shows any negative behaviour such
as licking, yawning, turning away then start at a greater distance.

Place the brush out of sight.

Keep repeating this, moving closer whilst he is relaxed. Don’t be tempted to rush the
process, keep sessions short and always go back a step at the beginning of the next session.
When you are both relaxed and comfortable, take the brush and make one gentle stroke of
the brush in an area you know he is comfortable with. If he doesn’t show any calming
signals or concern, continue to brush gently. As soon as you see any discomfort or concern
stop immediately, even if you have only managed one stroke. This will build his confidence
and trust that you will stop when he has had enough.

Over time you will make amazing progress. Keep sessions short and work on a different area
each time and over a few days you will complete a groom of the whole body.

If your dog really doesn’t like being brushed you can try some counterconditioning. You will
• Some very high value treats
• A brush appropriate to your dog’s coat

Bring the brush into view

Start feeding the high value treats

Continue to feed until the brush disappears

Remove brush and food at the same time

Keep repeating this until your dog seems happy to see the brush, he stays close to you and
displays happy body language. You can then progress to actual brushing:
Start to brush a safe area on the body lightly

Start to feed

Continue to brush whilst feeding

Stop brushing and feeding at the same time

The scary thing must always come first quickly followed by the food as this will then form a
positive association e.g., brush means yummy food.

What calming signals might you see in your dog if they are unhappy about what you are

• Lip and nose licking
• Yawning
• Panting
• Whale eye
• Avoiding
• Hiding

Think about the time of day that you are planning to groom your dog. Remember if you
have a puppy that often after their dinner in the evening, they have a mad half hour of the
zoomies, this is not the time. Recognise when your dog is the most calm and relaxed and
aim to groom your dog then.

A healthy ear should be pale pink in colour, there should be no redness, discharge, bad
smells or thickening of the skin. If your dog has an ear infection you will notice a change in
smell, the ear may also feel hot or may be red. You may see discharge and the ear canal
may look red and swollen. There may be some discolouration of the hair from the ear.
With chronic ear disease (ongoing and reoccurring infections) you may notice a thickening
of the skin and hyper-pigmentation and signs of build-up of scale.

Ears need good air flow to remain healthy but water entering the ears can also set up
yeast infections. Therefore, if you are bathing your dog at home ensure that you do not
get water into their ears.

Only clean your dog’s ears if they are dirty and not as part of a weekly routine. The more
you clean a dog’s ear the more wax the body will produce, and you end up in a vicious
circle of cleaning and over production of wax.

Dogs with drop ears and a longer coat e.g. Spaniels, Shih Tzu’s, Lhasa Apso are very likely
to get matting behind their ears and it is important to pay attention to these when
brushing your dog. If matting is a regular problem, you can ask your groomer to clip
shorter behind the ears.

It is important to prevent infections of the eyes and also the surrounding skin. Tear staining is
common in dogs, but it is not normal! Tear staining is usually caused by an overproduction of
tears that cannot drain away correctly. It is most noticeable in white dogs and those with a lot
of hair between their eyes but can also affect darker dogs and shorter coats.

Tear staining is identified by the red-brown stains in the inner corners of your dog’s eyes and
often running down the cheeks. The colouring is caused by an overproduction of a pigment
containing iron that is naturally found in dogs tears.

If your dog has not suffered with tear staining in the past and you notice that it starts to
develop you should seek veterinary advice as it can be linked to serious medical conditions
such as glaucoma.

Other possible causes are irritation of the eye such as a foreign body or an allergic reaction.

Poor diet and stress can also cause tear staining as unsuitable or indigestible ingredients can
put stress on the body. Sometimes puppies will suffer during teething.

Please do not ignore tear staining, this is something that needs to be managed to mitigate
discomfort for your dog.

Nails and Paws
Some breeds of dog have a lot of hair between their pads. As this hair becomes wet and
muddy on walks it can mat easily retaining moisture making the pads very sore. Hard mats
can also make walking very uncomfortable for your dog. Remember dogs are amazing at
masking pain and therefore just because they are not limping doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.
If dog’s nails are not trimmed regularly there is an impact on the dog’s joint structure. The
longer nails will impact the elbow and shoulder positions and can cause unnecessary wear
and tear on the joints. If you allow the nails to grow long and then cut them short on an
irregular basis you are changing the angle of the limbs making it more uncomfortable for your
dog. Also, when nails grow too long the quick (the blood supply) grows down with the nail. This
then makes it very difficult to trim the nail back to the right length. If they become
too long, they can curl and grow into pads or leg.

It is essential that we maintain our dog’s dental hygiene as it can have a huge impact on their
overall health. We should be aiming to clean our dog’s teeth at least twice a week using a dog
toothpaste. There are many on the market and also additives that we can pop into their
food. Do not use human toothpaste as this often has a toxic product Xylitol.

Dentastix are very high in calories and often are chewed and swallowed far too quickly for
there to be any benefit to the teeth. Raw bones can also lead to tooth fractures, especially in
puppies. Brushing is best. Take this slowly. Get your puppy used to having their gums
massaged gently building this up over time.

There is an old-fashioned belief that you should not bath your dog’s regularly as it strips the
oils from their coats. With the advancement in product development as long as you use a
good quality dog shampoo, preferably an organic natural shampoo without heavy perfume
or lots of chemical additives you can bath your dog as often as you wish. Remember if you
can smell a perfume in a shampoo this is magnified massively for your dog and once you
have added it to their coat, they can’t escape it! I would advise not using doggy perfume

Never use human shampoo, there is a significant difference in PH value of human skin versus
canine skin. A dog’s skin is much thinner than human skin and does not have the same barrier

If your dog has skin allergies you can bath the area daily with cool nettle tea, this will help
with the irritation that leads to continual itching.

For more information on good
groomers, how to desensitise
your dog and how to prepare your

Contact me: Clare 07532243153