Quetions about Mats/ evaluating a groomer- need advice

Good grooming practices are essential for maintaining health and happiness for you and your dog. This is a forum to exchange tips and advice for proper care of your dog's hygiene needs.

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Maxie CGC,- TDI

Social Butterfly
Barked: Fri Sep 30, '11 1:42pm PST 
I never had dogs that needed a lot of grooming until I had Max and Lily, so dealing with grooming every 4-5 weeks is new to me and I'm looking for some advice from more seasoned folks.

When I first got Maxie, I brought him to a box store, as I had a coupon and their puppy clips were only 20 dollars and I didn't know where else to go. I brought him every 2-3 weeks so he would get used to going. The problem was he hated going, although they said he was good, and then the last time he had some mats from playing in the wet snow that I just couldn't keep up with... and they said they would have to shave him close to even him up. I agreed- and I got back a puppy with such a horrible hack job that I wondered if I could have done better myself with my husband's beard trimmer.He was totally uneven and it looked like they didn't even blow dry him.

So I tried someone else and she did a great job, but then moved. The thing is Maxie still hated going to her too.

Then I started bringing him (and Lily who I had just adopted) to another local groomer and Max's fear has disappeared. It is so good to drop him off happy and Lily likes going there too.

Now the problem I have is that Maxie will develop small mats behind his ears and legs that I try to keep up with at home...but with that poodle type coat, it's hard to keep him completely mat free. So when he goes for his grooming, he does have a few mats...and he often comes back with the same mats. Other than that, he looks good. I do point them out when I drop him off. I don't want to switch groomers again and risk traumatizing him. He has another appt this week and I will talk to the groomer about this- but in the meantime could I get some advice?

Should I just keep him in a shorter clip? I do like him a little longer because I like his curls. Also, I'm not sure of the expectation- is this normal to not remove mats? These are very small mats.

I would rather Max and Lily be happy when they go to the groomer and I am pleased that I have found a caring individual that doesn't roll them around like a sack of potatoes or take them in a back room where I can't see them. Neither one of them is going to Westminster but I would like them to look good.

Any recommendations for products to help with this? I have been using a product called "the Stuff" with a slicker brush and that does allow me to work through a lot of mats, but is there something better?

I also wind up bathing them every week or two in between. I use conditioner. Any shampoos/ conditioners that are better for a poodle type coat? Max has the poodle coat, Lily is more wavy and easier to manage. I try to remove the mats before bathing them but I do let them air dry. Does that contribute?

They are active dogs that wind up full of mud and muck and they also swim in the mucky Mohawk river... so maybe I just need to keep them shorter to accommodate their lifestyle.

Apologize for the length of this. Appreciate any input!

Edited by author Fri Sep 30, '11 1:56pm PST

Jewel, PCD

8.6lbs of fury- in a bow!
Barked: Fri Sep 30, '11 3:50pm PST 
I'm glad you've found a groomer your dog likes, but I'm sorry to say it's not normal to get a dog back still matted. I suggest that this time don't leave the groomers until you've made sure his ears are good. If you don't want to make a big deal out of it just reach down and rub him behind his ears when he comes out to greet you and say something like, "Uh huh I think I feel a mat back here, can you take care of it before we go?"

As far as grooming at home I also have a poodle/shih-tzu mix (she's not as curly as yours) and I use a slicker brush followed by a metal comb. A slicker brush can "bump" right over a mat where a comb will snag right in it and let you know where you need to pay more attention. Also do you know about line brushing?

How often are you brushing? Jewel's in a bikini cut right now but I still groom all the long areas daily, if I'm sick I'll let it go one day at the most. When she was long it was every day sometimes twice a day.

The Boy Wonder
Barked: Fri Sep 30, '11 4:00pm PST 
Under legs is an easy one. If they're out a lot it's not a bad option to do what is called a t clip or a belly clip and they can just keep the hair on the belly and under legs short. Behind the ears the best advice I have for you (and would work for under the legs as well) is brush daily.

No really... every day, just put the brush by the table where every you watch TV or something of the sort and during commercials just take a few minutes to brush.

A tiny bit of Citris Shine or other shining product on the hard places will also help keep those areas mat free. Just spray a bit on your hands after the bath and rub it lightly in. I've always found that on my coated dogs ( I had Yorkie's for years) that this worked better for their coats with less effects on skin than any dog product.

Any time you wash you want to make sure you are getting All the tangles out before you wash and completely dry after the bath. A human hair drier on cool works fine... this is especially important with a poodle type coat which can start cording when it get's wet and isn't properly dry. if you brush As you dry you will straighten the hair and make it easier to keep brushed.

Make sure you are using a good Quality shampoo And conditioner when you wash, I'm particularly fond of Coat Handler, their leave in conditioner is really nice.

Toto, CD, RN, CGC

We don't do- doodles!!!
Barked: Fri Sep 30, '11 6:14pm PST 
A light dusting of baby powder behind those ears will definitely help prevent the "love knots" as we call them.
But, if ANY dog EVER left my grooming salon with matts still in its coat I would be horrified and fire whomever was responsible. Dematting is probably the most important part of professional grooming!
Every dog gets a metal comb run thru the entire coat prior to being called "finished" and, as Jewel pointed out, a metal comb will snag on any matts and they can then be dealt with.

the australian- sheep(herd)
Barked: Fri Sep 30, '11 7:45pm PST 
joining the chorus on the "don't leave the shop with mats" thing... once got Happy groomed (hi other Happy! wave ) and once we were home, found the mats behind his ears were still there! Called the grooming shop, asked for the owner, and told them what I'd found- she was VERY apologetic and told me his next appointment was on the house. I presume the girl who groomed him either got an earful or got fired.

Akita Pals- Always.
Barked: Fri Sep 30, '11 8:50pm PST 
Can't skin infections start behind/under those mats if not removed? I know with my Akita's both short but thick coated if I dont pay extra attention and make sure to brush backward as well as forward to remove excess hair that may not seem loose but is my pups will get itchy and have some skin irritation under those thicker spots. I also hate when hubby brushes because he wont brush coat the wrong way "because they don't like that" I'd rather they be unhappy for a few minutes a day than develop hot spots.Your opinion?
Stormy Puppy- (Found a- home!)

Barked: Fri Sep 30, '11 8:52pm PST 
If the mats are mostly behind the ears and the legs, maybe just have them do the legs shorter and the area behind/under the ears?

When I had my foster Shih Tzu I found a slicker brush kinda would slide over the coat and not go through any small tangles that were forming. I had better luck with using a pin brush and a comb. He was NOT good with being groomed. I think he had never been groomed as a puppy because when I rescued him at about 8-10 months old(he actually showed up in my backyard) he was horribly horribly matted to the skin and so dirty.
For small mats I used a mat-breaker, but you need to be very careful if you use one of those because they do have sharp surfaces.
The one I used looked something like this:
http://www.petedge.com/catalog/product_popup.jsp?entityId=553 11&entityType=product&templateType=1
Augustus- Gloop

Cheese, Glorious- Cheese...
Barked: Fri Sep 30, '11 10:47pm PST 
purchase a metal flea comb, I believe groomersmall carries some really inexpensive ones. They will find the tiniest pin mats, that a regular comb might miss.
Maxie CGC,- TDI

Social Butterfly
Barked: Sat Oct 1, '11 3:52am PST 
Thank you all so much- great suggestions.

I do think the slicker brush is gliding over small mats, and I don't notice them until they get big. I have metal combs, so I will start using those also.
I didn;t know about line brushing but googled it, and that seems to be a good way to make sure you're getting to the skin and not missing any areas.

The powder behind the ears makes a lot of sense and I already buy CitreShine and other products like that for myself- just never thought of using it for the dogs. I will try the different shampoo suggestion too.

I don't brush them every day, maybe 2-3 times a week and that is something I'm going to need to be more vigilant about, and the tools by the TV will help that- as the couch is their favorite spot big grin

As for the groomer- I will give it one more shot this week- but it's good to know that my irritation with Max's mats is justified. We'll see how it goes. I will also talk to him about trimming him a bit differently to help prevent some of this. He is an active dog and sometimes when he comes in muddy I just stick him right in the sink for a bath without a brush out...and then let him air dry... which is another problem.

So I now know some things that need to change to be able to manage my curly boy's coat better. Many thanks for all the advice!!!

blue dog

Edited by author Sat Oct 1, '11 4:04am PST

Stormy Puppy- (Found a- home!)

Barked: Sat Oct 1, '11 8:04am PST 
Yeah bathing without brushing can make the mats worse too.
Those curly coats just tend to mat more easily as well. When I was a kid my family had a cockapoo/terrier mix and she had sort of an intermediate coat, non-shedding like a poodle but instead of the poodle curls her hair was wavy with some random curling and she would mat if you looked at her funny. confused
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