Basic Information, Clippers, How To

Trimming Up Those Feet!

beforefoot0913-002Nothing is more satisfying than taking what I like to call “grinch” feet, and turning them into polished feet.  To accomplish this task, you need to shave the pads and trim the excess hair.  The tools I use are a pair of detachable blade clippers, such as the Andis AG+ 2-Speed Clipper, which I have done a review on, a #10 or #40 blade, in the pictures and clips below I am using a Wahl Ultimate Competition Series #40 blade, a slicker brush, and a pair of scissors, shown are Value Groom 6.5″ Curved Ball Tip Shears.  Now, some people will also use thinners, or solely use thinners.  That is personal preference; I like normal ball tip shears because they are shorter, and quicker for me, and I can still achieve a natural look.  Also, having a form of Cool Lube, a spray that helps cool off blades, is recommended.  When you are new at shaving pads, it will take you a while to do, and you need a coolant to help cool off your blades.Showcased below will be a video on how to shave pads and trim feet.

afterfoot0913-002As in the Nails, a Daunting Task… or is it? post, I explained about how to hold the leg and foot in a more natural manner that is comfortable for the dog.  You want to make sure you are not overextending the leg, and you don’t want the leg pulled straight back, you want around a 45 degree angle, close to the body.  Now, after I finish trimming or grinding the nails is when I will trim feet.  The reason for this, is because when you try trimming around the foot with longer nails, you are not going to be able to get a good looking foot, and you will keep catching your scissors on the nails, which can damage your scissors.

shavedpad0913-001Now we are going to discuss the first part, which is shaving the pads.  Whenever I have trained bathers on this task, I always have them start out with a #10 blade, so if you are just starting out with this, that is what I recommend.  For the bathers I have trained, if they decide to pursue dog grooming, they will then be trained to work with a #40 blade for the feet.  I have had some groomers stick with a #30 blade, and that is totally fine as well.  Whatever blade you end up being comfortable with using that can still remove a good amount of hair works.  Also, make sure your coolant is nearby, because like I said, if you are just starting out with this, your blade is going to get hot, and a towel to catch the excess of coolant and to wipe down the blade.  You want to be consistently checking your blade to make sure it is not hot.  I check the blade on my wrist or my cheek.  To use the coolant, I have my towel underneath, hold my clippers down, and with the clippers running, I spray the coolant, until the blade gets cold.  I then wipe the excess product off on the towel to dry off my blade.  How I like to start with shaving the pad is beginning near the two nails in the center.  I want to get the bulk of the hair off first, and lying the blade flush with the pad, I will shave from the nails to the very top of the main pad.  I use this same technique following the line of the hair with the two outside nails.  Next is shaving in between the main pad, and the four pads connecting to the nails.  You want to scoop out the hair, NEVER dig.  When you dig into the pad and foot, you will cut the skin there.  You want to use a scooping method and follow the main pad.  It is angled like a V, so you want the edge of the blade to hit the bottom corner of the V on the pad, and you want to angle the blade so where it lines up straight following the V shave.  I have a picture showcasing what I am trying to explain.  You then lightly scoop out the hair.  If you are not understanding what I mean by this, the video below showcases that.  You do that for both sides, and you are good to go!  It will take some time to perfect shaving the pads, so please do not feel discouraged.  It is nerve racking for first timers, and dogs will tend to be a little more wiggly because they can sense your nerves.  Don’t worry about perfection when you are first starting out.  Pay attention to the holding and technique, and you will improve on getting more hair out, the more you practice shaving pads.

beforefoot0913-001If you were scared about shaving pads, I know you are going to be nervous about trimming feet.  It is another daunting task, involving a really sharp object, a pair of scissors.  This is something else that I recommend you taking really slow, because it is scary trying this out.  I use a pair of ball tip curved scissors to complete this task.  The first thing I do is lift and bend the paw, and brush all of the hair around the back of the pad down, where I want the hair overlapping the back of the pad.  With the curved part of my scissors, I will trim straight across the back of the pad.  Now, pay attention to the placement of your scissors.  You want to make sure that when you trim, you are not going to be catching any part of skin or pad, you just want the hair.  I will brush down the hair one more time, then repeat trimming the hair across.  I’ll set the foot down for a second and start working on trimming the hair on the foot.  With your slicker brush, you want to brush up the hair on the foot, meaning you want to brush the opposite way the hair is laying.  You want the hair to stick up.  On the same aspect of how you want to pay attention to the placement of your scissors behind the pad, you want to do the same here and pay attention to the tip of your shears.  Using my curved shears, I follow the curve of the foot, and trim following the roundness of the foot.  When it comes to the sides of the foot, you want to do the same thing, follow the natural curve of the foot and trim, being mindful of the placement of your scissors.  My philosophy when you are just starting out, trim less, then as you get more comfortable and confident, you’ll be able to trim closer.  One other thing I like to do, after I have done a base trim of the foot, is to take my fingers in between the toes and pull up more hair, and trim the excess.  Your brush cannot get everything, so using this technique I’m able to clean up more hair.  Instead of scissors, others will use thinners or blender to trim up the hair in between the toes and of the foot for more of a natural appearance.  If you need a better understanding, the video is down below on shaving pads and trimming feet.

afterfoot0913-001Hopefully I was able to explain and showcase this process easy enough for you to understand.  Any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section below.  I’m going to say this, because I have to say this, perform these tasks at your own risk, I am not held liable or responsible for anything that may occur at your own hands.  Till next time!

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Basic Information, How To

Nails, the Daunting Task… or is it?

whitetoes0906-002One of the biggest obstacles when starting out either grooming professionally, or trying to maintain your dog at home, is trimming nails.  It can be a daunting and scary task, because no one wants to make the dog bleed.  However, once you get the hang of it, trimming and grinding nails ends up being a piece of cake.  If the dog is really well behaved, I can trim the nails on all four paws in under a minute, no exaggeration.

whitetoes0906-001When a dog has white nails, it feels a lot easier, because for the most part, you can easily recognize the quick, the blood vessel that resides in the nail.  Your goal is to trim as close to the quick as possible without injuring the blood vessel, causing it to bleed.  In the video I am correlating with this post, you will see me use a grinder or dremel.  I prefer this method just because I can get closer to the quick and smooth out the nail so that it isn’t sharp.  However, I am going to be talking about trimming, because that is the easiest way to ease into nail trimming.

safarinailtrimmer
Safari Nail Triimer, image from Amazon; https://www.amazon.com/Safar…

First, you want to find a good, sharp pair of nail trimmers.  Right now, I have been using the Safari brand nail trimmers for Small/Medium dogs, which can be purchased on Amazon, Ryan’s, and other pet supply stores.  Image is shown on the side.  I do NOT recommend ANY Guillotine style nail trimmer, EVER.  The reason for this is because you have to put the dogs nail through a hole in the tool, then you squeeze the tool which then trims off that nail guillotine style.  Why do I not recommend this?  You can trim off a lot more than you intended to, causing serious damage to the dogs nail.  Dogs feet are constantly moving and twitching.  It is immensely rare for a dog to hold perfectly still like a statue.  I have had someone come to me, because they tried trimming their dogs nails at home with a Guillotine trimmer, and cut the nail down to the foot, leaving a small nub, because the dog moved when trimming.  When a nail is cut that short, and you cannot stop the bleeding with Styptic powder (I’ll explain what this is in a moment), the dog needs to be taken to the vet and the quick cauterized to stop the bleeding.  That can be a traumatic experience for the pet.  Sometimes, experiences of that type of nature, can cause dogs to be extremely fearful and aggressive when their feet are being handled.  One bad experience can “ruin” a dog for its nails, unfortunately.

stypticpowder0906-002The second item would be Styptic Powder.  Styptic powder is a type of cauterizing agent in powder for, that if you slightly quick the dogs nail, you put a small amount on, and hold for about 15 to 20 seconds.  This usually stops the bleeding,  Fair warning, do not open this product after it has been shook around.  You don’t need to shake this product around to use it, but if it drops on the floor, give it a few minutes to settle because the cloud of powder that emerges is very potent, and will more than likely make you cough.  Also, this product stains.  I would recommend putting a towel down below where you are trimming your dogs nails, so that way if you do accidentally quick the dog, the styptic powder falls on the towel.  It stains your fingers, floors, clothes, and it does not want to come out.  If you do not have styptic powder, and you are at home, some cornstarch or flour will suffice, just use the same method of placing a little product on the bleeding quick and hold for 15 to 20 seconds to stop the bleeding.  If you slightly quick the dog, it can be upsetting, but quicking a dog lightly stings almost like a hang nail for us, and a majority of the time, dogs don’t make any sound or movement that you quicked them.  Your goal is not to quick them, but things do happen.  Some dogs have immensely long quicks, and sometimes you feel you can trim more, but sadly cannot.

Now that we got the tools out of the way, let’s talk about holding the foot and trimming the nails.  You want to find a position that is comfortable for you as well as the dog.  You also want to be careful of the placement of the dogs limbs.  You want to be holding the dogs feet and legs in natural positions.  If a dog is kicking or fighting to get out of your grasp, and this dog is known for being really good at getting their nails done, then you are probably pulling their legs into an unnatural position, causing discomfort.  I like to have my dogs about hip level on me on a table, so that way I can reach my arm over and under them to grasp which ever leg I need.  I tend to lift the leg and bend it straight back at around a 45 degree angle, I don’t want the foot and leg completely perpendicular to leg naturally.

blacknails0906-002Now it is time for the trimming part.  While holding the foot firmly but still comfortably for you and the dog, you want to take your trimmers and lightly tip the nail.  You want to just trim a little bit off at a time.  If the dog has white nails, you are looking for the pink quick amongst the white.  It is always better to trim a little bit off at a time, then to go in all Wyatt Earp.  If the dog has black nails, you are looking for the black dot inside the white part of the nail.  See the picture on the side. I know it is a little hard to see, but right at the tip of where the arrow is pointing is the black dot amongst the white part of the nail.  That is the quick.  At the bottom, I will have a video showcasing myself grinding Xandria’s nails, and showing you the quick.

Like I said previously, just trim the nail a little bit at a time.  It is going to take some time getting use to holding the feet, holding the trimmer, figuring out how much pressure and grip you can use.  It can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months for new bathers to get fully comfortable with trimming nails, because it can be scary and intimidating.  However, with enough practice and confidence, you’ll be able to get to a point of trimming dogs nails in under a minute.  The frequency of how often a dogs nails need to be trimmed honestly depends on the dog.  I can do my own girls once a month, and their nails are still nice and short.  If a dog has really long quicks, I would recommend once every two weeks to help expose the quick, meaning you trimmed down to the quick without making the dog bleed, and to help the quick recede.  The process of getting a quick to recede also varies on the dog.  Sometimes it takes only a few months, sometimes longer.  I would recommend every 2 to 4 weeks for nails to be trimmed on dogs.  The longer pet parents or you wait to trim the dogs nails, the higher chances of the quick growing with the nail, and more chances of injury, such as getting caught on objects, and either breaking a nail or completely ripping out the nail, which I have seen both.  If you are a pet parent, and this still seems a bit daunting for you, most grooming facilities either offer walk in services for nail trims, or appointments for nail trims.  Either way, call the facility and ask about any paperwork you might need to bring, and any policies they have.

Well, I hope all of this was helpful.  With enough time and practice anyone can become a pro at trimming nails.  Some dogs will be more difficult than others, and if it is your own dog, they can sense when you are nervous about trimming their nails, and I guarantee you they will use that to their advantage.  Worse case scenario, you will need to take your dog to a groomer, or have the nails done by the vet.  One more tidbit of information, some vets offer nail trimming that can be painful to the dog, but on very rare occasions it is necessary.  What some vets offer to do is trim the dogs nails all the way down to a nub, and cauterize the nail.  The dog is sedated for this procedure, but imagine someone taking 3/4 of your nail and removing it.  Your nails will be extremely sore, and painful.  Then imagine type and doing everyday tasks with your nails.  It will hurt.  That is how it feels to dogs to have this procedure done, because they have to walk on their feet.  However, like I said, it is extremely rare, but really only done when truly necessary.  Usually when a dogs nails are so long, and even trimming them regularly the quick is not receding, and the dogs nails are becoming injured.  This is also possible for dogs who are extremely aggressive over having their nails done, so that way they don’t have to get their nails done often.  I never recommend this procedure unless I feel the procedure would greatly benefit the dog.  Always, always, always consult with your vet in regards to this procedure.

Okay, well, this was an extremely long post, but I wanted to try and get as much information as possible on this subject.  If there are any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section down below and I will try to get back to you as quickly as I can.  Till next time!

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Basic Information, How To, Let's Talk

Brushing Tools & Techniques

Brushing is a vital part in maintaining a dogs coat and well being.  Depending on the dogs coat, you need to figure out what is the best method of attack for brushing out the dog.  If you have a Shih Tzu, you definitely don’t want to be using a zoom groom (a rubber brush used for deshedding and bathing), and if you have an Australian Cattle Dog you don’t need to be using a dematter.  Every dog is different, so we are going to be discussing a few of the tools that can be used, how to use them, and on what coats they work best with.

brushingtechniques0830-001
I lift and hold the hair in the opposite direction, against the grain, and brush down with the grain to get as close to the skin as I can.

Now in the world of grooming, if you are a first time groomer or a new pet parent, going down the grooming isle of a store can be a little intimidating.  There are all sorts of brushes, combs, gadgets, that it is hard to decipher what would be best.  If you have a longer haired dog, such as a Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Havanese, Schnauzer, Golden Retriver, Shiloh Shepherds. etc, a slicker brush and a comb is your best bet.  A slicker brush helps break apart the strands, brushing out tangles.  Now, with longer hair dogs, my recommendation is to brush the coat entirely, head to toe, then go over the coat with the finer side of a comb.  You want to make sure the pins are getting down to the skin, then carefully running along the skin with the comb.  If you get stuck, you’ve more than likely found a tangle that needs to be gently worked out.  One great way is to use your hand, lay it flat against the coat, and lift the hair in the opposite direction, where you can see the skin underneath, see image above.  You then take the brush, and work the hair that your hand is holding down.  This helps you get close to the skin, and get underneath the coat.  I will say, that has been the biggest obstacle with brushing for pet parents who have longer haired dogs.  Some may brush the top coat very well, but once you get underneath, it is matted because they didn’t work the brush and comb to the skin.  One piece of information, is if you get a brand new slicker brush, you can easily brush burn the dog.  What I recommend is scraping the brush against some concrete or hard, textured surface to dull down the tips a bit, so it is not as rough.  Brush burn almost looks like a rash forming, and blood can seep through follicles of the hair.  A slicker brush needs to be replaced rarely, even with professional groomers.  If you are a pet parent, I truly feel you would never need to replace your slicker brush, unless something happens such as the handle breaking or the teeth wearing down.

miraclecoatbrush0802
A large Miracle Coat Brush

My favorite slicker brush ever is the Miracle Coat Brush.  I swear by it.  I have used so many different slicker brushes, and this one has a way of breaking apart tangles without hurting the pet.  It reminds me of the Wet Brush, just for dogs.  I purchase mine from Amazon, and they carry the small, which is great for tiny dogs, the medium, which I feel works for puppies all the way to large dogs, and the large, which is fantastic for dogs such as Irish Wolfhounds and Newfoundlands, because it covers a wider area quicker. Also, quick side note, this post is not sponsored.  All of these brushes I own, because I found these are the only brushes I need, and I professionally groom, and have been professionally grooming for over 11 years.

furminatorMedDogLongHair
Image from FURminator, http://www.furminator.com/Products/Dogs/dog-grooming-deshedding-tools/how-to-stop-dog-from-shedding-medium-long-hair-dog-grooming.aspx

Another great brush is the FURminator brush.  This is more useful for shorter hair that is a bit thicker at the base that tends to shed, such as German Shepherds, Labs, Shiba Inus, etc.  You want to brush with the grain of the hair, or how the hair is laying.  You never want to brush against the grain.  Now, with this type of brush, you need to be careful, because this tool is like a blade, and it can brush burn a dog if pressed too hard or is used too frequently over one area.  I brush over one area, then move to another area.  Slicker brushes and combs still work great on these dogs as well, but you tend not need to worry too much about getting close to the skin for tangles.   Huskies and Malamutes also work great with the FURminator brush, but it might take a little more effort because even though they have that thick coat that sheds, it is sometimes hard getting close to the skin because their fur is longer and much more dense.  FURminators are expensive, I am not going to beat around the bush on that.  They run anywhere from $30 to $60, and you can get them at many different locations.  I do feel they are worth it, however, I have not tried any products that are similar to this tool.  So I cannot vouch if there is a good dupe for this product hanging around.

safaridemattingcomb
Image from Amazon; https://www.amazon.com/Safari-W6116-De-matting-Com

A dematting tool can sometimes, SOMETIMES be used on longer coats.  It is a sharp tool used to cut and break apart matts.  When I say sharp, I mean sharp.  You need to be careful handling it because you can cut yourself and the dog.  I tend to use dematters for matts that are away from the skin, that are not super tight, and I feel can be brushed out without causing harm to the pet.  You want to be holding the instrument perpendicular to the pet, and make sure the sharp, jagged edges do not come in contact with the pets skin.  With short, quick strokes, you work through the matt to break it up.  I also like to use a dematter on dogs with long hair and thick undercoats, such as Rough Collies and Newfoundlands.  They are quicker at breaking apart the undercoat and removing it.  Dematting tools don’t seem to run too much.  I’ve been enjoying using the Safari De-matting Comb, that I pick up from Amazon.

marscoatking
Image from Mars Coat King; https://www.mars

The rake or Mars Coat King is great for brushing out undercoat on longer haired dogs that shed, such as the Golden Retriever, Border Collie, etc, that the FURminator brush wouldn’t work on.  This sometimes reminds people of a dematter, but it is not sharp in the same sense as a dematter.  The prongs tend to be molded inward, like a hook, preventing possibilities of injuring the dog and groomer, but it has a way of hooking onto dead undercoat and pull it out.  These can run a bit pricey depending on the brand.  Some store brands, such as Paw Brothers make a good rake from $8 to around $20.  The actual Mars Coat King brand can be up there in price, but you are paying for quality and lasting power.  So do your research on the brands.

zoomgroom
Image from Amazon; https://www.amazon.com/KONG-ZoomG..

The last brush I recommend is the Zoom Groom, or any type of rubber brush that resembles the Zoom Groom.  This brush can be used dry or wet.  It is great for scrubbing shampoo in a dogs coat while bathing, and it is extremely useful at pulling dead undercoat from short haired shedding dogs such as Pugs, Chihuahuas, Jack Russel Terriers, Labs, etc.  Brushing with the grain of the hair, if you do short, quick strokes, you will see so much dead hair just pull together, and sometimes stick to the brush.  This type of rubberized brush has always been one of my favorites.  This brush does wear down over time, so repurchasing is required.  However, that being said, one rubberized brush like this has lasted me around 8 months to a year, and they are not too overly priced in my opinion.  I have been able to find this product at PetCo, PetSmart, Amazon, and a few others.  Amazon had the cheapest price around $6 if you purchased it as an add on item, just in case you were wondering.

So, those are the brushes that I use constantly, and honestly those are the only brushes I use.  I have not needed to pull in any other brush, or purchase a different brush.  Having those in my kit, I have the necessary brushing tools for any type of coat and coat problem that may arise.  I hope this post was informative and helpful for you.  Any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section down below, and I will get back to you as soon as possible.  Thanks for stopping by, and until next time!

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How To

Drying Tips & Tricks

dryingtechniques0823-004There is a lot that goes into drying a dog, and unfortunately this is one of my the main aspects of grooming that dogs don’t care for.  Can we really blame them though?  The dryer is usually very loud, and blows air hard and fast to help dry the coat quick.  For any aspect of grooming, after a bath, the dog needs to be fully dried.  For haircuts, it is not a good thing to run blades and equipment over wet hair, it will rust your equipment, and dull it, making it necessary to have your tools sharpened more frequently.  On top of that, it is difficult to give an even, good looking haircut, when there are tufts of damp spots all over.  On the same aspect, you do not want to be brushing a wet dog.  It is not good for the dogs coat or skin.  Also, if you are trying to get undercoat out, don’t expect to get any out unless the dog is fully dried.  Wet hair clings together, is dense and stays closer to the skin.  Drying helps break apart the hair, pull it away from the skin, and enables you to fully brush out that undercoat.

When drying a dog, I have noticed their most sensitive areas to dry are the butt, feet, and head.  The butt because air that is blowing around their anal opening feels immensely strange, and they just want to sit down.  Feet because a good amount of dogs do not like their feet messed with too much, I mean, they do walk on them, so I would be sensitive as well.  The head, well, the head should be pretty obvious.  The dryer being super loud, blasting air in their ears, air going up their nose and their mouths, of course they are not going to like it!  However, we are going to touch on ways of drying, and helping the dogs cope as best as possible, with as little stress as possible.

dryingtechniques0823-001One thing that I like to do after the bath and towel drying the dog a little is spray in a leave-in conditioner.  Whichever you prefer, I always go with The Stuff, it helps shorten drying time, helps me brush out the coat quicker, softens the coat, and makes it shiny.  If interested further on this subject, click here to go to my full review on The Stuff.  Then, I like to put cotton balls in the dogs ears before I dry them.  Now, I don’t have to do this with every single dog, because I have quite a few dogs that tolerate the dryer beautifully.  However, putting cotton balls in the ears during the drying process helps block the ear canal from the harsh air flow, as well as dull down some of the noise.  This is especially helpful with puppies.

When I start drying a dog, I always, ALWAYS like to start with their back end.  The reason for this is it helps give them time to adjust to the noise and the feeling.  You want to hold the base of the nozzle where it connects to the hose.  If you hold the hose, it can burn your hand, because the machine can heat up the hose.  You can try out different motions to dry the dog, but you want to try and use your shoulder to move the hose back and forth.  Using your wrist and elbow can cause strain and injury.  Groomers are famous for getting tendonitis and carpal tunnel.  I slowly work down the backs of the legs, then move up towards their heads.  Now, you need to be able to read the dog, and adjust your drying with the dogs needs.  If it is a new dog, and you have a two speed dryer, try it on low speed or one speed first, to see their reaction, so how comfortable they are with the drying process.  I dry puppies differently, and I will touch on that in a second.  Usually, at this point I am drying with a nozzle on, example shown on the side.  If the dog seems to be tolerating it well, I will dry their body as much as I can with the nozzle on the hose.  For their head, I take the hose and dry them at a distance, just to get the bulk of the water off their head, but again, I will adjust accordingly to how the dog is reacting.  If they are stressing out about their head being dried, I will back off, and continue with their body.  At this point, if I am at my professional grooming facility, I will turn off the dryer, and put the dog in the kennel and put a kennel dryer on them, as long as they don’t have any breathing or trachea issues.  Now, to make this part perfectly clear, the kennels I use are not fully enclosed, and do not have a plastic covering to encase them.  The kennel dryers I use are not heated, they blow room temperature air, at a low speed.  Think of a box fan that you use for your house, on low speed. I do this to give the dog a break for a bit and to help get some of the excess water to fall off their coat.  This also helps with the drying time later.

dryingtechniques0823-002After a good break, I take them out, place them on my table and hook them up, and start the drying process again.  However this time, I take the nozzle off the dryer.  Now it will feel more like a high powered hair dryer, dispersing air in a larger area.  Now with this method, you do need to be careful of the air heating up, because even though it is not a heated dryer, it is still a machine.  You always want to be checking the temperature of the air leaving the hose.  Too hot for you, too hot for the dog.  The nozzle off approach is exactly how I start with puppies, I NEVER attempt to dry a puppy with the nozzle on the first couple of times, I want to slowly introduce them to drying.  It is stressful and scary enough as is for puppies on their first few grooming experiences.  Doing the same thing as when I originally started, with the nozzle off I start drying the coat at the back end, then I work section to section.  Going down a leg, fully drying a foot, moving to the other legs, etc.  You want to make sure that the coat is fully dried, all the way down to the skin.  When you can see every strand separated, instead of big clumps of strands, that is usually a good indicator the coat is dry.  Also, use your hands or even have someone else go over and see if they feel any damp spots.

Now, time to dry the head.  Like I have said previously, this is one of the main issues dogs have with drying.  If you put cotton in their ears before drying the first time, check to see if they are still in there, if not place new ones.  Now when drying their face, I like to hold on to their muzzle.  The reason for that is because I can help hold their face (as best as they will let me), to help control where I am blowing the air.  I try and avoid their noses as much as possible.  I like to blow on top of their head, down the sides of their cheeks, I will then lift their chin and dry under there, and keep repeating that process for a few minutes, then give the dog a break to dry their ears.  Now, with the ears I am going to try and explain this as best as I can.  I like essentially fold the base of their ears, covering their ear canal; this helps to further prevent air from blowing into their ears.  So, I tend to pinch the opening of the canal closed with my forefinger, middle finger, and thumb, then use my ring finger and pinky to hold up the rest of the ear so I can dry the ear.  This for me is second nature, but I promise you, holding the ear canal closed helps the dog tolerate drying the ears more.  It might take some time getting use to, but try different holds that help keep the canal closed, and you will have an easier time drying the ear because the dogs tend not to freak out or stress out as much.

dryingtechniques0823-003With the nozzle off, I keep bouncing from area to area, if they are starting to get stressed with me drying their head, I got an work on their body.  I do not like to stay drying in one place too long, because as I have stated previously, the dryer can heat up, warming up the air.  I don’t want to stick the dryer on one place for more than a few seconds at a time, because I do not want to hurt them.  Keep bouncing around, and stay at a distance from your dog, I would say about 6 to 8 inches.  If you notice the dog is stressing out, regardless of giving certain areas a break, give the dog another break.  You never want to compromise the safety and well being of your dog.  If it takes longer, oh well, you need to do what is best for the dog.

Now, if you are drying at home, with your own hair dryer, you can use the same drying techniques with the nozzle removed from the hose as your own hair dryer.  HOWEVER, hair dryers are heated!  If you have a cool setting, you need to be using it.  If your hair dryer does not have a cool setting, you are going to be drying your dog for a while at a distance, because getting too close to a dogs skin with a heated dryer, you will burn their skin.  You need to be a good distance away, and have your hand touching your dog while drying so you can keep a constant feel of the air temperature.  Drying at home may be a little more tricky, because you need to make sure you have a spot where your dog is secure, but safe.  You want to make sure if anything were to stress out your dog, you could quickly detach them if needed.

One final note is that I do not like brushing out dogs while drying.  I want to fully focus on drying my dog first, that way I can focus on thoroughly brushing them later.  I will be having a post coming up on brushing techniques for different coats.  Any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section down below.  Till next time.

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Basic Information, How To

The De-Shedding Treatment

FURminatorbeforeSo we have talked about basic bathing, now we are going to go further into bathing with the DeShedding Treatment.  It sounds more daunting than it truly is.  It is a technique using a de-shedding shampoo as well as a conditioner, blowing it into the coat, and doing a thorough brush out after fully drying.  This technique is recommended for double coated dogs that shed.  This type of service is not needed for dogs such as Malteses, Bichon Frises, or Poodles.  Examples of shedding dogs, Shiba Inus, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Siberian Huskies.

Now, there are several shampoo brands out there that carry de-shedding shampoos and conditioners.  For today’s reference purpose, I am going to use the FURminator Shampoo and Conditioner, because that is what I use for this treatment on my own dogs as well as clients dogs at the grooming facility I work at.  Side note: Not sponsored.  I purchase these products on my own and have been using them for years.  They work great for me, never had any issues with them, and will continue to use them unless something happens.

So, after you started the bathing process, click here if you need a refresher, the shampoo that you will use to lather would be the de-shedding shampoo, in my case, the FURminator shampoo.  Work it all over the dog’s body from the base of the head, around the neck, and back.  The FURminator shampoo is NOT hypo-allergenic, so if your dog has skin allergies, I would not recommend using this shampoo.  Most de-shedding shampoos are not hypo-allergenic.  The de-shedding treatment is still possible, at this stage just use a hypo-allergenic shampoo as the base.  Then, time to put on the FURminator conditioner.  The FURminator conditioner is hypo-allergenic, which is one reason I enjoy this product because even on dogs that have allergies but shed, I can still use this treatment.  Rub the conditioner in well, starting at the base of the head, around the neck, and back.  Make sure you get the tail, butt area, and sides really well with these products.  Now, it comes time to blow the products into the coat.  This is where a high powered velocity dryer comes in handy.  You want to blow the product into the coat, it shouldn’t take more than a minute or two.  After that, let the product sit for about 5 minutes.  If you don’t have a high powered velocity dryer, just let the product sit for about 10 minutes.

After letting the product sit, it is time to fully rinse the dog.  Now, if you are using the FURminator products, it will take longer than normal to rinse out all of the product.  As I said in my bathing basics post if you think you are done fully rinsing the dog, rinse all over one more time.  Then towel dry, getting as much excess water off, eye wash, then optional, spray on a leave-in conditioner.  I then take the dryer and fully dry the dog.  You want the dog 100% completely dry, they cannot be damp for the next step.  If you have a velocity dryer, awesome if you are bathing them at home and need them to air dry, just wait till the next day.

furminatorMedDogLongHair
Image from FURminator, http://www.furminator.com/Products/Dogs/dog-grooming-deshedding-tools/how-to-stop-dog-from-shedding-medium-long-hair-dog-grooming.aspx

Now that the dog is fully dry, and like I said, they cannot be damp, it is time to brush them out.  If you were able to use a velocity dryer, you are not going to have to brush as much.  If you were not able to use a velocity dryer, you are going to be brushing for a bit.  Depending on the dog’s coat, you can either use a tool like the FURminator brush or some sort of Coat King or Rake.  FURminator’s tend to work best on shorter coat dogs, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Siberian Huskies.  Coat Kings or Rakes work best on longer haired dogs, such as Golden Retrievers, Newfoundlands, and Border Collies.  A slicker brush and comb will also be helpful in this process.  One side piece of information concerning the FURminator brush, you do not want to run it over the same spot more than a couple of times, max 3 to 4 passes over one area.  The reason for this is the FURminator brush is like a blade, and it can cause irritation and brush burn on the dog’s skin if you press too hard and go over the same area too many times.  I like to do a few passes over per area then use a slicker brush and a comb.  Again with the slicker brush, dogs can get brush burn, so try not to press too hard on the dog’s skin.  After I have done both of those steps, I follow through with a fine tooth comb, and it will help find further thick areas that I need to work on.  If you were able to use a velocity dryer, most of the time about 10 to 20 minutes will suffice for brushing, but that also varies due to the condition of the dog’s coat.  If you were not able to use a velocity dryer, I would not do more than 30 to 40 minutes.  If you are at home and it is your dog, I would do 30 minutes one day, space out a few days and do another 30 minutes of deep brushing to break up the undercoat.

FURminatorafterNow, I do know with the FURminator treatment, I cannot vouch for all of the other de-shedding shampoos and conditioners, if you or the client is consistent about doing the treatment every 4-8 weeks, it has potential to help curb shedding up to 90%.  Consistency is extremely important for this service.  You cannot do this service one time and expect the shedding to be down by 90%, it does not work that way.  I have several clients that do this service, and we have been consistent with it, and their dogs hardly shed anymore.  Like I said, they are consistent.

Well, yet another long post.  Sorry about the lengths, but I am trying to be as detailed and thorough as possible.  Hopefully, it was easy to follow, and you learned something new!  Any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below.  Also, like I stated earlier, this is not a sponsored post, I bought the products mentioned and shown myself.  I have been using these products for years.  Okay, enough for now.  Till next time!

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Basic Information, How To

Bathing Basics

bathingbasics0809-001Today we are going to go over some bathing basics for dogs.  Now, as I have said before on this blog, every groomer and bather is different, finding their own ways and techniques.  This is just going to be my version of bathing.  It works for me, it’s simple, quick, and efficient, because trust me, when you have a full schedule on your plate, you need to be as thorough and quick as possible, without compromising quality.

Now, these techniques could be used whether you are bathing at home, or bathing in a professional environment.  The most important thing is that you find a routine and stick with it.  You want consistency, which helps improve time, as well as not forgetting to do anything.  One important side note of information, if it is a longer haired dog, make sure the dog is brushed out, or make sure there are no matts/tangles.  If you bathe a dog with matts, they will only tighten further, making it more difficult to brush out later.  Bathing a dog with matts also increases the drying time, because hair is more densely packed in those areas.

bathingbasics0809-002Before I start bathing a dog, I do the dogs nails.  I want this out of the way, and it is one last thing I need to be worrying about when finishing up my dog.  Also, it helps prevent the dog from getting their nails stuck in a grate, or cracking off from walking if they are too long.  Then I clean out the ears.  The only exception to this one would be if they had ear hair and I needed to pluck that out.  I would then wait to clean out the ears until I plucked out that hair, which I usually do after the dog is fully dried from the bath.  When you work at a company, this helps cut your finishing time on your dog.  I tend to trim nails and clean out the ears in the bath tub.  There will be a post going further into trimming nails.  Once that post is out, I will come back and link it in this post.

Next comes bathing.  You want to make sure the water temperature is nice and warm; not too hot and not too cold.  Now, if you are in a professional environment, with a machine that you hook up shampoos to, I put the lever on clean, bathe, or shampoo.  Basically, I want shampoo to start coming out along side the water, and I saturate the entire dog, head to toe, being mindful of blocking the eyes to not get soap in them, and covering the nose to not get water down the nostrils.  Use the shampoo that either the pet parent requested, or whatever shampoo you feel will work best for the dogs skin and coat.  If you are at home, you are going to wet your dog down head to toe, fully saturating the coat.  When the dog is fully wet, I will wash the face with appropriate face wash shampoo that is certified use for dogs face and is a tearless formula.  I personally either use the Spa Blueberry Face Wash or a Hypo-Allergenic Tearless Wash, depending on the dog and their skin needs, and really scrub it in.  You want to be able to break up any food particles, as well as dirt particles, again, be extremely mindful of the eyes and the nostrils.  I will let this sit while I wash the dogs body.

bathingbasics0809-003Now it comes to washing the body.  I have NEVER trusted a bathing system to fully wash my dog.  It has never fully cleaned a single dog, and I have tried multiple different systems.  The best bet is to also scrub in shampoos.  I use the soap side of a system to help start breaking apart the coat and breaking up dirt that is stuck in the coat.  It helps to aid in the full scrubbing.  At this point you want to determine what the best shampoo to use on the dog.  If you are bathing in a professional environment, sometimes the pet parent requests a certain shampoo, but if they didn’t, determine what the best shampoo would be for the dogs skin and coat, unless they need a hypo-allergenic shampoo only or brought in a veterinarian shampoo to use.  If using a veterinarian shampoo, fully read and follow the instructions on the back.  This goes about the same if you are bathing your dog at home.  Use a dog shampoo only, no human shampoos of any kind.  It needs to be a dog safe shampoo.  Dogs have different a pH than humans and react to certain chemicals different.  So please, please use a dog safe shampoo only.  One of my personal favorite shampoos to use is the Fresh N’ Clean Oatmeal and Baking Soda Shampoo, as well as the conditioner.  Start off with a small palm full, working it from the base of the dogs head, all around their neck, back.  You want to make sure you really scrub down to their skin, as well as get every crevice, armpits, tuck up, tummy area, feet and pads especially, as well as around the anal opening.  On the feet, definitely lift up the paws and scrub into the pads of the feet and in between the toes.  A lot of dirt and debris get trapped in the paws.  Also, around the rear end poop and poop residue can get trapped, so a good scrub back there helps with breaking apart the crud and alleviating the smell.

analglands
Image by Chinaroad Lowchens of Australia, http://www.lowchensaustralia.com/health/analsac.htm

Now let’s discuss expressing anal glands.  I always do this after I have washed my dog, but haven’t rinsed yet.  For me, I tend to do anal glands on request, as well as if my dog needs this.  I tend to avoid doing anal glands on medium to large size dogs.  The reason is because bigger dogs usually tend to express their anal glands on their own.  What are anal glands?  Well, it is gross, let me start off with that.  Underneath a dogs anal opening, as in directly underneath, there are two little sacs that reside internally underneath the opening.  These sacs have a tendency to fill up with a liquid discharge.  For a good consistency, you tend to want it to be light brown to brown in color, as well as very thin and watery. There is also going to be a pungent odor, usually smelling of fish or rotten eggs.  It is not pleasant in the least.  Some dogs need these expressed, usually smaller dogs.  Occasionally larger dogs need this done because they can no longer do it on their own.  Be forewarned.  If you start expressing anal glands on larger dogs who don’t need it originally, you are more than likely going to have to keep expressing them.  The reason being is that anal gland sacs can fill up, and not express on their own, leading to impacted glands, and possible causing the anal sacs to rupture.  If that occurs, surgery is needed to remove the sacs and stitch up the hole.  I have seen ruptured anal sacs and it is disgusting and I feel terrible for the dog.  So, in order to express the glands, you want to take your fore finger and your thumb, and find the two round sacs underneath the anal opening.  They should feel like tiny, hard balls.  It helps if with your other hand you lift of the tail, causing the anal opening to protrude out a bit.  Once located, if they feel full, you want to gently squeeze your fore finger and thumb together, slightly pushing in and up to extract the  glands.  Be mindful not to have your face in the trajectory of the opening, because I have seen anal glands be shot onto faces.  This will take a bit to get the hang of, finding the right pressure in order to extract the excrement’s, and every dog is different.  Some you need to use more pressure, some less.

bathingbasics0809-004Now after that fun bit, it is time to rinse.  This is where you want to be extremely through.  Any residual shampoo and conditioner can cause serious irritation on a dogs skin, causing them to scratch and form hot spots.  Rinsing my dogs takes me the longest, because I am immensely thorough on this.  I tend to rinse the dogs face first, covering the nose to not get water down the throat, making sure to get around the neck where the loop is sitting, then the rest of the body.  I tend to use my other hand to rub and scrub over the body to fully rinse out the product.  You want to make sure you are getting everywhere head to toe.  The ears, feet, the sides, the butt, everywhere.  After you think you are done rinsing, rinse the dog fully one more time.  Like I said, I am immensely thorough on rinsing.  I do not want any residual product left on my dog.  After my second rinse, I shut off the water and towel dry.  I try to soak up as much excess water as I possibly can.  With shorter hair dogs, I tend to just run the towel all over their body, starting at the head, rubbing the towel.  But if you are towel drying a longer hair dog, I try to squeeze the water out and not rub.  I do not want to create friction along the hair, so I just gently squeeze all over their body to ring out the excess water.  Lastly, I do a steady stream of dog eye wash in each eye, to help fully clear out any debris or shampoo that might have gotten in there.

At this point you are essentially done bathing.  I like to do one finishing touch however.  I spray in a hypo-allergenic , leave-in conditioner on my dog, while the hair is wet, so the hair follicles can absorb the product.  My favorite one to use is called The Stuff, literally, that is what it is called.  You can purchase it from Amazon, and here is the link if you would like to check it out.  I plan to be doing a full review on this product in the future.

So hopefully that was helpful for you and maybe you learned something new.  I will be talking about drying techniques soon, as a follow up to this post.  However, that will also be a long one, so it will take me a while to fully write.  Any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to leave in the comment section below.  Also, quick disclaimer, because we need them now a days, all the products mentioned in this post are products I have purchased, and have been using for years.  This is not a sponsored post, nor were any of these products sent to me.  Being a dog groomer, you constantly try new products to find the best ones.  Okay, that is all for now!  Till next time!

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Andis, Clippers, How To, Maintenance

Maintenance: Andis 2-Speed AG+ Blade Drive Replacement

baseclipperHere is going to be a step by step visual guide on how to replace the blade drive of an Andis 2-Speed AG+ Clipper.  Replace the blade drive at your own risk, I am not responsible for anything happening to your clippers if you decide to replace the blade drive on your own.  I replace my own blade drive often, because I do know how to do it.  Once you get the hang of it, it is a simple process, however, it does take a few steps, due to the fact you need to remove a total of 8 screws, and essentially remove the front casing.  You need to be really careful removing the casing, and replacing it, because of the wires of the cord.  Worse case scenario, you can always have your sharpening guy replace the blade drive for you, however with this technique, all you need to pay for will be the blade drive.  A blade drive runs anywhere from $5-$12 depending on where you purchase it.  The cheapest I have found was Ryan’s Pet Supplies.

bladedriveHere is what the blade drive you need to replace the old one with looks like.  When searching for it, type in “Andis Blade Drive 4×4.”  I have been able to find it on Ryan’s Pet Supplies, Pet Edge, as well as Amazon.  Sometimes your sharpener will carry extra blade drives, if you would like to purchase one from them and then replace it on your own.

First, you want to make sure you remove any blade that is attached to your clippers.  Then, take some sort of brush, I use a spare toothbrush, and brush out all of the excess hair that is trapped around the lever.  Now, you need a screw driver with two different heads or two different screw drives, one to fit the main screws on the casing and the lever, and one that fits with the screws attaching the blade drive.  The bigger screw head will take off the outside casing screws, as well as the two screws holding the lever.  Remove all and set aside.  Very gently, remove the back part of the casing.  It will be a little stubborn at first, but I find slightly wiggling the casing, then gently lifting works.  Word of advice, keep some of your fingers on the switch, because it will come loose when removing the casing.  DO NOT fully pull off the casing.  As seen in the picture below, I twist it gently to the side, because the cord is attached to the casing and the motor, and you do not want to mess up the wiring.  Next, it is time to remove the screws to the blade drive.  This is where you will need the smaller screw driver, or smaller screw head to unscrew.  Set aside screws.

bladedriveremovedThis is what you are looking at once the blade drive is removed from the clippers.  As you can hopefully see in the picture on the side, there is a lot of hair stuck in the crevices, and this is after I cleaned a lot of it off.  I then take my brush to remove as much excess hair as possible.  If you groom as much as I do, I highly recommend replacing your blade drive every month, not just to keep your blades working well, but to clean out all of the excess hair.  Hair build up can cause damage to the motor, and that is a pretty penny to fix.  Now, it is time to put the new blade drive on.  Line it up with the holes, press, and attach with the small screws.  Next, gently put the casing back on the clippers, being mindful of the switch and the cords.  Screw in the four screws for the casing.  Last, you need the flat silver piece that was under the lever, place back on the top of the clippers where the lever lies, then top with the lever, with the whole of the lever going over the new blade drive.  Screw into place.  Then viola!  You just replaced your blade drive!  Like I said, it is a slight process, but once you get the hang of it, it takes no more than 5 minutes.  Hopefully this was easy to understand and follow, I know it can be a little intimidating at first, but hey, I think giving a moving, breathing, living animal a haircut, is much more intimidating than this.  In the future, I do hope to upload a video of the step by step process as well, but hopefully this was informative enough for right now.  If you have any questions, comments, or tips to make it even easier to understand, feel free to leave them below!

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