Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dematting a Dog

Long hair matting can frustrate Fido and his owner.

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Feisty, long-haired dogs can be fun and loving pets. One of the challenges of owning these dogs is when they come to your porch with heavily matted hair. Dogs, like humans, feel the pain of a brush and react unfavorably. Follow some important steps to remove these mats and get your pet's coat back to a manageable condition.

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Train your pet to allow brushing and de-matting the same way you taught him to be obedient in other areas. Give him rewards for allowing grooming and offer negative feedback for reacting poorly. Before you begin the de-matting process, do the best you can to brush out your dog's hair, skipping the matted areas as necessary. After brushing, bathe your dog completely with shampoo, then with a commercial product designed to help you comb through mats such as silicone-based lotions. Begin de-matting while the hair is still wet. Waiting until he dries might reduce the effectiveness of your grooming.


The key to removing matting from your dog's coat is breaking large mats into much smaller ones, either with your fingers or with a tool available at pet supply stores. This is a time-consuming process because your pet's skin might be sensitive and he might respond in anger if you merely jerk out the mats. Pinch a small amount at a time and separate it from the rest of the mat, holding below where you pull to prevent the hair-pulling sensation. Work in some corn starch or a commercial equivalent as needed to make this process easier.

Advanced Technique

Hold your fingers below the now smaller matted areas, then pick through the areas with a pick to further separate the hair. You can also use a grooming comb for this application. Just be sure to hold the hair with one hand and brush with the other to reduce yanking hair. Some pet owners use forced air to help remove these mats once they have worked through these steps. If this doesn't work well, however, you might need to apply a lubricant or re-bathe your dog to begin the process again since his hair will be dry.

Other Considerations

Daily maintenance is critical the dematting process. If you do not allow your dog's matting problem to get out of hand through infrequent grooming, you will have far fewer problems in this area. Many owners also shave a long-haired dog periodically to prevent matting from getting to be a big problem in the first place. While this dramatically changes his appearance, it does make maintaining a mat-free appearance much easier. Alternatively, use thinning and blending shears, which are available at pet supply stores. These shears let you cut some of the hair in a way that does not leave large clumps of missing hair or unsightly bald spots on your pet.

ReferencesBichon Frise Information Station: De-matting TechniquesDog Breed Info: Grooming, Long Haired BreedsAndrea Arden : ResourcesDog Breed Info: Grooming Do's and Dont'sOh My Dog Supplies: Dematting CombNet Places: Demat or Shave?Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty ImagesRead Next:

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