9 GROOMING MISTAKES TO AVOID
We are lucky that Greyhound coats do not require extensive grooming and they rarely have that doggy smell. Nevertheless, regular grooming minimizes shedding, keeps their coat healthy, reduces allergies, decreases chances of infection and diminishes the spread of dirt and germs throughout your home. If you decide to groom your hound yourself, there are a few mistakes to avoid.
1. DON’T INTERRUPT YOUR DOG’S USUAL ROUTINE
Patience is the key to maintaining a regular grooming routine at home. Try to pick a time of day when your dog is most likely to be active, but not specifically engaged in other activities like eating or going potty. This will help make sure you are causing as little disruption to their routine as possible.
Don’t rush through bath time. Dogs respond to your energy and work to please you, so be patient and focus on creating as stress free of an environment as possible, and give your dog plenty of praise and rewards while grooming. Make it a positive experience, and be patient. Your dog may be nervous at first, but keep at it. This will reduce the chance of your dog exhibiting anxious behavior that will make grooming miserable for you and your pup.
2. NOT BEING PREPARED
Plan ahead. Before you turn on the faucet, make sure you have all your products and tools handy. You want to have everything you need, right where you can reach it. Your supply list will obviously include non-slip mat, shampoo, perhaps conditioner, and towels.
Do not use your shampoo. Dogs have unique skin with a different pH balance than humans, which is easily dried out by our shampoo. You want a shampoo made for dogs, which may have conditioner already in it. If you’re unsure of what products to select for your particular dog, ask a groomer what he or she uses. If your dog is experiencing a certain issue (like itchy skin), then a shampoo designed to treat that condition might be ideal. You can always check with your vet to see what they recommend.
After shampooing your dog, putting on a conditioner is the next important step, if your dog shampoo doesn’t already have it in. The conditioner rehydrates the skin as well as closes up all the cells on the outside part of the hair shaft itself.
3. NOT CHECKING THE WATER TEMPERATURE
The right water temperature is the first step to making sure your pet is comfortable during bath time. Water that’s too hot or too cold will create a negative stimulus for your pet, which may turn them off of bath time for the long haul.
Lukewarm water is just right for bath time, so for the sake of your dog, you should double-check the temperature of the water before letting your pup get wet. So how do you know it’s the right temperature? Spray the nozzle on the inside of your forearm first, just like you would if you were giving a baby a bath. That area of skin is more sensitive to temperature than your hands.
One thing to note here: some Greyhounds are almost like fainting goats when they are in toasty warm water. They can just wilt and fall over. Don’t panic! Just be on the lookout in case this starts to happen, and add some cooler water. Also note, just start with a few inches of water in the tub, which will fill more as you spray your dog. If your spray is too harsh, put your hand next to your dog’s skin and spray your hand. This will diffuse the force of the water, and your dog will feel like they’re getting a massage.
4. NOT PROTECTING EYES OR EARS
Plan to avoid getting water (and soap!) in their eyes and ears. Even if your pet enjoys playing in water, you don’t want to get soap or water in sensitive areas like your dog’s ears, nose, and eyes.
The easiest place to make a mistake here is when you’re washing your dog’s face. Instead of running water over your pet’s head, try using a wet washcloth. Some people will even go as far as putting cotton balls in their pet’s ears to protect them, although many pets will not stand for that! Dip the cloth in soapy water, carefully wash your dog’s head and face, and then dip a clean washcloth into clear water and use that to rinse. Just make sure all the soap is out of those areas.
5. POOR SOAP APPLICATION
Dilute the shampoo with water. Try adding some to a bowl full of water, or put the shampoo in a dispenser that contains water. Diluting shampoo helps it suds up and spread better. Most shampoo is thick and concentrated, and adding water can make it easier to use. Actively massage the soap into your dog’s fur with your hands and fingers. Start with your pet’s legs and work your way up to his face (the most sensitive area), cleaning that as described above.
Wash the outside of his ears with a tiny bit of shampoo on your fingers, a washcloth or a cotton ball. Rinse with a washcloth moistened with clear water, do not spray water near ears or eyes. Pay extra attention to your pet’s paw pads, too, as these areas can sweat and trap odor (“Frito feet”).
Then rinse away the shampoo with the shower nozzle, reversing the order in which you shampooed. Start with your pet’s neck this time and then work your way down to his legs. Make sure the water runs clear of suds before you finish.
6. NOT DRYING CORRECTLY
Make sure you have towels ready to go before the bath (the last thing you want is a soaking wet pet sprinting through your home!) and have a few towels on the floor and one ready to drape over his back in case he wants to shake off during the bath.
After a bath most pet owners quickly towel down their pet, but you should try to get the fur as dry as possible. Use a towel to gently squeeze and pull out as much water as possible. By the end, your pet should be damp but not dripping wet. Toweling dry is usually enough for Greyhounds and other short-haired dogs.
Leave using a blow dryer or any other type of drying tool to the professional groomer. It’s difficult to regulate the temperature of the airflow, which increases the risk of burning your pet’s skin. Plus, most animals are scared of the noise, which may put a damper on the end of an otherwise positive bath time experience.
Brush your dog as he dries. You also could air-dry your dog, as long as he doesn’t get chills or shiver too much. After 15-20 minutes, brush again for good measure.
Of course, follow the drying process with plenty of rewards and praise for your good dog.
7. DON’T LET THEM OUTSIDE RIGHT AWAY
Lots of dogs go wild after bath time, even if they're thoroughly dried. One of the first things they like to do is run around and roll in things. There are lots of reasons dogs might do this, but it's important that you keep your dog inside immediately after grooming unless you want them to come back in covered in dirt and whatever else they can roll in outside. You'll have to start the whole grooming process over if that happens. Give your dog time to work the zoomies out indoors before you let them outside.
8. BATHING TOO OFTEN
Too many baths can actually strip away the natural oils in your pet’s coat and cause skin irritation. Speak with your veterinarian to determine the best grooming schedule and best type of shampoo for your pet’s breed and activity level. I have heard it said that “I bathe my Greyhound once a year, whether he needs it or not!”.
9. FAILING TO PRAISE, SOOTHE, REWARD
Whether you are bathing or drying, you should NEVER yell at or punish your hound during bath-time. Instead, use positive reinforcement to praise your dog when they are cooperating during bath-time. Keep treats handy to let them know when their behavior is acceptable, or to simply distract them. Avoiding your own negative reactions to the experience will increase the likelihood that your pet remembers a positive experience in the bathtub. Work on developing good habits, including regular brushing, so that the dog is conditioned to enjoy this bonding time.
Your reward for bath time: a hound that looks and smells fresh. And the knowledge that you’ve done something nice for your pooch’s health and wellbeing.