I groom a lot of poodles and ‘oodles and bichon’s. I was recently asked how to keep their coat looking full since they tend to get curly and flat very quickly. The answer is the slicker brush!

A slicker brush has short metal bristles which separate the hairs. You can brush with the grain or against the grain with a slicker brush and the more you brush, the fluffier your dog will become. There is a drawback, however, and that is that the bristles are metal and therefore can make your dog uncomfortable if you brush too hard. If you brush our your wirehaired dog with a slicker brush twice a week, you will have a fluffy, mat-free puppy!

I suggest putting your dog up on a counter or table (with a leash on and always being held onto) so that they know that they are about to be groomed and not to give you any fuss. Grooming a dog on the couch or floor works too, you just need to bend over and they can easily get away from you. Pay attention to your energy and body language. Grooming your dog should be relaxing and enjoyable but if you are nervous, anxious, stressed, hyper or in a hurry, your dog will sense your unbalanced state and not be relaxed either. Breathe often, take your time, don’t talk to them unless it’s a calm “tch” to snap them out of any inappropriate behavior (trying to pull away, pulling their leg out of your hand, trying to move around, or fixating on the brush). Dogs get most uncomfortable with their front legs being brushed, so go slowly and gently. Try to get as close to the skin as possible. It is common for owners to brush out their dogs on the surface, but if you examine the coat closely, it is still matted underneath. Brushing on top of a mat is painful to your dog and is often the reason why they fuss when being brushed. Brushing frequently helps eliminate this issue. (Don’t forget to sanitize your counter or table when you’re done!)

If you find a mat or knot in your dog’s coat, cut it out immediately. Knots start off harmlessly enough, but they work themselves closer and closer to your dog’s skin, pulling and itching them to the point where they can make your dog bleed. Avoid this issue by chopping them out asap. Trouble areas for mats include: inside the ear, where the ear connects to the head, armpits, and thigh/belly.

Lastly, keep an eye on the hair that grows in your dog’s ears. It needs to come out to avoid mixing with the ear wax and forming a knot (super uncomfortable for your dog and your groomer). Just pull it out with your fingers–it comes out super easily and doesn’t hurt your dog at all.

Lead your dog!