Look Good, Feel Great: Grooming your dog

Keeping your dog well-groomed not only makes them look better and feel more clean and comfortable; it also strengthens the bond between you both, making it one of the most rewarding parts of being a pet owner. It can take some time to get them used to the process, but you'll be surprised how quickly they learn - although having a few treats to hand always helps!

By grooming, you stimulate your dog's skin, releasing oils which keep the coat glossy. You also have the opportunity to check them over for any irritations or pests. This should be carried out 3-4 times a week for long-haired pets, and once or twice a week for short-haired pets. The occasional visit to a grooming salon is also recommended, especially for dogs which need a seasonal trim. You'll find our Groom Room salons in many of our branches - just click on the store locator to find one closest to you.

Brushing

Before you brush your dog's coat, run through it with a comb to work out any stubborn knots and tangles. The shorter the hair is, the finer the comb you will need. Start at the neck and work your way down in small sections, trimming any problem areas with a pair of scissors or working through with a slicker brush. If the coat is particularly thick, you may want to trim it down using a shedding blade. Finally, work through with a flea comb to make sure there are no fleas or eggs in the coat.

Once you have combed and trimmed the coat, brush through with a softer brush, again starting at the neck and working section by section. There are a number of brushes available, but usually the longer the hair is, the harder the brush you will need. If your pet doesn't respond well to grooming, you could also use a hand-grooming glove, which stimulates the skin and encourages loose hairs to drop out of the coat. Bear in mind you will still need to comb and brush them occasionally.

Nail trimming

Trimming your dog's nails will prevent them from becoming too long or too painful. If you are unsure about clipping your dog's nails, your local grooming parlour will be happy to do this for you.

You should always use clippers designed especially for dogs to clip your pet's nails. Generally speaking, you'll want guillotine-style nail clippers for large and medium dogs, and scissor-type clippers for small dogs.

To trim the nails, hold the paw firmly and clip the tip of the nail off at a 45 degree angle, so that it is flush with the floor when the foot is on the ground. Remember to include the dew claw - the nail just above the paw - if your dog has them. Be careful while clipping to avoid the "quick", the pinkish colouring inside the nail - this is a blood vessel and it will hurt your pet if you catch it! You might not spot it if your dog has black nails, so just clip small amounts gradually until the nails are a suitable length. Finish by filing any rough edges with a nail file for dogs.

Bathing

When bathing your dog, you should always use a shampoo that is designed for them - take coat length and moisture requirement into consideration, as well as your desired smell! Do not use shampoos for humans, as the PH balance may damage your pet's coat.

Start by placing a non-slip mat in the bottom of your bathtub. Once your pet is in the tub, start by running lukewarm water over them using the shower head, holding it about an inch from the coat to prevent splashing. Tip your dog's head up so that water runs down their back and not into their eyes.

When the coat is soaked through, apply shampoo and work it in, avoiding sensitive areas like the eyes and ears - you may need to use a brush or glove for thicker coats. Make sure you reach nooks and crannies such as the space between the paw pads, under the tail, under the chin and behind the ears. Thoroughly rinse the coat, kneading any soap out as you go, and repeat with a conditioner if your dog has particularly dry skin or dandruff. Finally, dry them with a towel or hairdryer, and remove the cotton wool from their ears.

You can view our whole range of grooming products here. Speak to one of our in-store advisers if you're not sure what you should be looking for when purchasing grooming equipment for your pooch!