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My white Australian Shepherd mix, Candy, throws hair like nothing I’ve ever seen. Brushing her daily
certainly helps, but it doesn’t solve the problem. We constantly find little white balls of Candy fur in corners of the room.
If this sounds familiar, you probably live with a dog who sheds. And no matter how much you brush him, errant wads of hair manage to find their way through the house and onto your clothes. Keeping your dog’s hair from driving you crazy can take some doing. But there are ways to manage all that hair.
Young puppies don’t seem to shed much. They have soft, fluffy puppy coats that adhere well to their roly-poly bodies. Despite the lack of shedding, puppyhood is actually the time to start regular grooming. Get your dog used to being bathed and brushed while he’s still young and impressionable.
Give your puppy a bath about a once a month, using warm water and lots of praise and happy talk. If he’s small, do it in the bathroom sink. If he’s too big to fit, use the bathtub. Make sure he gets the impression that bath time is fun. This might mean giving him treats and oodles of praise throughout the washing and drying process — whatever it takes to help him enjoy getting clean.
Brushing should be a regular activity, too. Ask your puppy to stand still while you go over him with a soft bristle brush. Reward him with plenty of verbal praise and even treats if he stands still while you groom.
If you plan to take your puppy to a professional groomer when he grows up, take him to the groomer now just for a visit. Have him meet the groomer, have her give him some treats and teach him that the grooming salon is a happy place. If he’s old enough for his first grooming session — usually at around 6 months of age — have him get a bath and a clip, if needed. The sooner he’s exposed to being professionally groomed, the better.
You’ll know your dog is fully grown when he starts dumping hair all over the house. If you have a dog with a double coat — like a Siberian Husky, Pembroke Welsh Corgi or Australian Shepherd — you know what I mean. The soft, fluffy down of the double coat has a way of depositing itself everywhere your dog has been.
Dogs with shorter coats, like Boxers, Greyhounds and many terriers, don’t shed as much as their hairy cousins. They still need grooming though, especially the terriers, whose wiry coats can look quite unruly without regular thinning.
Whether you have a double-coated dog or a short-haired canine, grooming is a must. Baths are mandatory for all dogs, especially those who spend a lot of time outside.
Before giving your dog a bath, brush him thoroughly to remove as much loose hair as you can. Then wash him with warm water in a bathtub (or take him to a doggie self-wash facility), using shampoo made just for dogs. Be careful not to get soap in his eyes — that’s a sure way to make bathtime unpleasant. Rinse all the soap out of his coat before you dry him thoroughly with a towel.
After your dog is dry, brush him again. You’ll be amazed at how much loose hair comes out after the bath, especially if he’s double coated. During the spring and fall, your dog will be shedding even more than normal, so daily brushing is a good idea.
You’re still bound to find hair around the house and on your clothes. This is where a small hand vacuum comes in. At my house, the hand vacuum is put to use daily to suck up the Candy hair that constantly manages to appear. And while the hand vac doesn’t work well for hair stuck to your clothes, a decent lint roller can do wonders. Don’t skimp here. When it comes to lint rollers, you get what you pay for.
Old age doesn’t make shedding any better. Senior dogs dump as much hair as their middle-aged counterparts — sometimes even more. This means they need the same amount of grooming but with a greater amount of TLC.
Senior dogs often develop arthritis and reduced flexibility, making bathing and grooming more of a challenge for them. They need to be gently lowered into the bathtub and carefully washed. It’s also important to keep them from getting chilled after you take them out of the tub.
Brushing an older, arthritic dog should be done slowly and gently, with lots of care. Be on the lookout for areas of sensitivity when you’re grooming. Your dog may have painful areas on his back or near his joints. These spots still need to be brushed, but go easy.
It may take a little longer to bathe and groom your senior dog, but he’ll appreciate the attention, and when it’s over, you’ll love that he’s as clean and huggable as he was when he was young.
1. Thoroughly brush your dog before bathing.
2. Use the proper hair-removal tool to brush your dog:
a. Short coat: “A rubber curry brush and two-sided brush is best for short coated pets,” said Megan Mouser, animal education manager for Andis Company, makers of grooming tools for dogs. “Use a rubber brush during the bath to loosen ‘dead’ coat, and when the pet is dry, use the soft bristle side of the two-sided brush to brush all the loose coat from your pet.”
b. Long coat: “You will need a good brush and a comb for longer coats,” she said. “It is also wise to have one de-matting tool as well for when you miss a grooming or forget to brush.” She recommended a slicker brush, a metal comb with a detailer (the part where teeth are closer together) and a de-matting tool.
c. Double-coated use: You will need a slicker brush and de- shedding tool, according to Megan. “Use the slicker brush first to remove debris from the coat, and then use a de-shedding tool until you see minimal hair coming out — be sure not to over brush in one spot. Finish by using the soft side of a two-sided brush to remove all loose hair.”
3. Bathe your dog regularly (less often in winter).
4. After you bathe him, brush him again.