Summit Tip – Grooming #2 – Brushing your dog

By Brenda Crispin…

Hi Everyone,

This week we are going to continue the grooming/handling series and discuss brushing your dog. As with many other items there are different ways to brush a dog but the most important thing to remember is to make it pleasurable for the dog. If done gently and calmly your dog will relax and be still while being brushed. Brushing your dog regularly does more than remove hair. It also works with the natural essential oils in your dogs skin to aid hair growth and shine. This is also a great time to see how the skin looks. Are there any lumps or bumps, dander, is the skin red or are there any sores?

How often to brush?
There are several variables that affect how often brushing should be done. With puppies, they do not shed much as they have the fluffy puppy coat. Puppies shed their first coat between 4-6 months. Even though they do not shed this is the time where we take our time and get the dog to become adjusted to the process of grooming. This will be the set foundation for the rest of their lives. Most puppies enjoy the attention and touch from humans so take this time to make brushing pleasurable for your dog. I brush the puppies 2-3 times a week. Go slow and take your time. As the dogs get older you can brush once a week. The exception here is during typical shedding seasons. Shedding their hair causes itching and scratching, hot spots, and LOTS of hair on your floor and furniture. During these times spending a little time daily will be a benefit to you, your home, and the dog. Doing a good heaving brushing before bathing helps keep large amounts of hair from coming out while in the tub.

What tools should I use?
There are so many options when it comes to brushing your dog. I am going to discuss each one in the picture below briefly. It is difficult to cover everything as we get different types of breeds of dogs and brush requirements can change by breed. This will be a general guideline.

A: Wire Slicker Brush
B: Short haired Rake
C: Narrow Tooth Comb
D: Wide Tooth Comb
E: Nail Clippers
F: Bristle Brush
G: Rubber Zoom Groom


I like to use the rubber zoom groom(G) or the bristle brush (F) with the puppies as they are the most gentle and almost massage like brushes to start with. As the dog becomes accustom to the procedure of being brushed you can move to the slicker brush (A) and the short hair rake (B). Be careful with both of them not to push too hard and scrape the skin. Both are great at removing dead hair. My favorite is the rake. I like the wide rounded teeth compared to the metal ones on the slicker brush. Use the one you and your dog are comfortable with. Once you have brushed the dog you can use the combs (C, D) to assure there are not tangles. The narrow toothed comb © is another great tool to get a large amounts of dead hair off your dog.

Brushing Procedure:
My dogs normally start standing while I brush and as they become relaxed will eventually lay down on one side or the other. This is not a time for a lot of cue’s to be used. If you can start the brushing in the position the dog is already in and work with your dog I would start there. If we add lots of cue’s at this time it can add to the stress and anxiety around grooming. I like to start the brushing procedure around the back of the neck and down the back first. I will do a few strokes with the brush and then a couple slow strokes with my hand. Then repeat. Don’t be in a rush. If your dog moves away give him/her a moment before starting again. After the back, I move to the hips and tail. You will find a lot of hair comes out of these areas. I like to save the legs, head, and stomach for last. These are the most sensitive areas so if I have done the back and other areas right they are more relaxed and will accept brushing in these areas. I think using the rubber zoom groom (G) or one of the combs (C,D) are more efficient in these areas. As with the back I will rotate my hand in a slow petting procedure now and then.

As always I like to hear your feedback and processes. It is great to share with each other as well. If you are on our closed Facebook site (Puppy Raisers for Summit) feel free to start a communication on how you groom the dogs and what works for you. We can learn so much by sharing experiences and knowledge with each other.

Thank you all so much. Next week will be all about bathing your dog.

Brenda Crispin
Foster Home Coordinator
Summit Assistance Dogs