Holistic Journey Part 1 – Brushing
Something that sounds so standard and basic is one of the hardest parts of the Grooming process for any pet to get used too. Clients ask me all the time about what type of brush to use, how often to brush their pet, and the most common one is how to use the brush correctly?
Holistically speaking your pet is going to tell you whether they like being brushed or not. Some key signals of NOT enjoying the brushing stage include biting or mouthing, running away, yelping or whining, and growling or bowing. Do not force brushing on your pet, especially if they have tats (knots) in their fur. Unlike us humans who are used to having knots and brushing them out, a pet just feels pain and discomfort.
The holistic approach is to start with brushing feeling good. Turn the brush to the side without any bristles and run it across your pet multiple times saying ‘brushing feels good’, or ‘what a good boy/girl’. Let them feel comfortable and not threatened or stressed from being brushed. Start with a boar brush which is the one covered in bristles that is very soft, and make sure your pet doesn’t think that brushing is going to be painful automatically.
If your pet has got a lot of tats especially ones that are really stuck to the skin, do not brush them. Wait until a groomer has been able to remove all of these and then start with the boar brush so the pet feels destressed and comfortable.
Next start using a pin brush, which looks like the ones we use on our hair. This will relieve most knots and get through most coats but will not turn the coat into anything special. Your next brush is a comb which is a long metal toothed straight comb. Your Groomer runs a comb through the dogs coat to make sure there are no tats at all before running a clipper or scissors through them.
The last brush is a slicker brush which is what most people have issues with a Groomer using. This brush looks a lot worse than it actually is, and if used properly does not hurt the pet. I read a lot of reviews from people who see Groomers using this brush saying that the Groomer is being forceful, aggressive, and harmful to the pet. In all honesty it depends on the Groomer. The slicker brush is designed to separate fur especially Doodles and Poodles to straighten it and make individual strands stand up instead of curling.
I find the best way to use a Holistic approach to using brushes on dogs, is connecting with them and watching their body language. As I am brushing I focus and make sure that I am holding a knot at the root near their skin so it doesn’t pull and they don’t feel it. I make sure that if I am using a slicker brush especially, is the pet okay with the feeling on their skin? If they are not I simply tell the owner that I can use the dryer to straighten the hair but that we will not get the perfect poof because their pet is NOT okay with the slicker brush.
Communication between client, dog and groomer is key, because this is what will allow everyone to have a positive Grooming experience!