VIDEO: At the grooming salon
Grooming your dog is a central part of your responsibility for your pet's welfare, and for many owners the easiest way to keep your dog's coat in great condition is to take them to a dog groomer.
YourDog.co.uk visited Eloise Payne from Costessey, Norfolk, who runs Atyourbarkandcall, a professional dog grooming salon and online accessory retailer.
Eloise explains the benefits of grooming: "Regular grooming improves the health of the skin and coat and, just as importantly, cleans the dog and allows you to check for cuts, swellings and lameness as well as changes in temperament which could indicate your pet is sick."
25 year-old-Eloise has worked at three local practices and has been trained to City and Guilds standards in grooming. Breeds she currently looks after include: Lhasa Apso, Bichon Frise and Finnish Laphund.
The first stage of the process is combing the dog, getting rid of knots and tangles.
The next stage is bathing. Eloise has a special hoist which allows big dogs to be handled safely, but a small dog can be lifted across manually.
Eloise uses a special formulated dog shampoo – human shampoos can be too harsh. Dog shampoos also produce less lather, which is very useful if your dog does not like being rinsed.
A special blow dryer is used to dry the dog, starting at the back of the dog and working forward.
The dog is combed again to remove any further knots.
The final stage is to use the clippers, Eloise favours the Aesculap Favorita II, a reliable and long-lasting set of clippers which is designed for heavy use.
Grooming can also be carried out by yourself as well as a professional and is a great time for bonding if it can be carried out with minimum fuss.
Your dog needs to become used to you handling and examining him. Carefully check his paws, ears and eyes regularly and gently massage his gums in preparation for having his teeth cleaned. Make sure you give praise and rewards for allowing you to do this and hopefully grooming should become a smooth and easy process that both of you can look forward to.
It might be worth asking some other people to examine him, under your supervision of course, so that he becomes used to being handled by different people and not just you. This will help make visits to the vet much easier.
Cleaning his teeth is an experience you need to make as comfortable as possible. Use a specially formulated dog toothpaste. Gently massage his gums from an early age so that it is something he becomes used to. Hopefully you've helped him understand that he shouldn't bite.
Your kit should contain the necessary equipment to manage your dog's coat, teeth, ears and nails. Specially formulated shampoos, conditioners and toothpastes are available for dogs (don't use your toothpaste!) and depending upon the breed, you might like to consider purchasing a range of combs and brushes to better manage their coat.
Some of the brushes available include: Slicker (removes dead fur), Pin (effective on long haired breeds), Bristle (effective on short haired breeds), Rake (useful for grooming the undercoat, can be single or double rows of bristles), Mars Coat King (trims and grooms in one, different ranges of blades for different breeds/lengths of coat, Furminator (removes loose hair and undercoat without damaging or cutting the top coat), and the Mattbreaker (helps untangle heavily matted coats).