Brushing your canine's coat is a regular chore for most dog owners, unless you own one of the few hairless breeds. Done properly, frequent brushing shouldn't pose a threat to your pooch. Unless you're doing it every hour of every day, over brushing shouldn't be much of a concern.
Depending on the breed, your dog may demand a daily date with the prickly tool to keep his coat smooth and mat-free. Hair length and thickness generally dictate how often you need to brush, from once a week for short-haired and single-coated breeds to once a day for longer-haired or double-coated breeds. Shedding season requires more frequent brushing to remove dead hair before it tangles and causes unholy mats. Regular brushing also helps distribute the natural oils in his skin, keeping his coat healthy and looking good.
Using the Right Brush
Not all brushes are for all dogs. The type of brush you need depends on the type of coat he has. Wire slicker brushes work well on medium or long-haired breeds, but may scratch the skin of those with shorter hair. Hair rakes, which look very much like their name suggests, are designed for breeds with double-coats to untangle and remove the loose thick undercoat. Bristle brushes, with their tightly packed bristles, work perfectly for dogs with short coats, as it stimulates the skin and removes dead hair without causing irritation. The familiar pin brush, which looks like a pin cushion with a handle, works well to finish out the brushing session by smoothing the coat and removing dead hair.
Once you've found the proper brush for your pooch, you don't just start dragging it through his coat without a plan. You need to make the experience pleasurable for him, otherwise he'll fight it forever. Offer treats when you start and brush small sections at a time. Make sure you get through the entire coat, all the way down to the skin, and brush with the hair growth until the section is smooth. Move to the next section and continue. Some people start with the head and work their way back, while others start at the rump and work their way forward. Find a technique that works for you and your pooch, and stick with it every time you brush. Use a spray-on detangler to wet the hair if you have a long-haired breed, as brushing his hair dry could cause static and split ends. Detangler works well on stubborn tangles as well -- wet them and work them loose with your fingers and comb.
Although you can't necessarily over brush your dog so long as you follow the typical brushing guidelines, you can cause his skin and coat some damage if you over groom him. Bathing him too often strips the natural protective oils from his skin, which can leave it flaky, irritated and itchy. Too frequent bathing without proper conditioning can dry his coat, causing it to become brittle and dry. Brushing him too hard with the wrong type of brush -- a slicker brush on a short-haired breed, for example -- can cause skin irritation as well.
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