The Ultimate Guide to Brushing Your Dog

by Samantha Meyers February 10, 2017

The Ultimate Guide to Brushing Your Dog

When we first brought our doodle home, I looked forward to doing her fluffy hair and putting it in tiny bows, something I never had the chance to do with our Frenchie. So needless to say I was shocked when she kicked and yelled anytime I came near her with a brush.  What was I going to do with a longhair dog who hated being brushed?

I feared we would end up in mat-city or with a shaved, naked dog, if we couldn’t come to an agreement of sorts. But with a little time, the right tools and a whole lot of patience, brushing has become one of her favorite activities. Here's what we learned:

Whether your dog has long hair or short they will need to be brushed regularly. Brushing can increase your dog’s overall comfort, helps with shedding and is a great way to spend time bonding with your dog.

1. Choosing the Right Brush- Having the correct equipment is the first step.

  • Slicker Brush – Perfect for dense coats. Great for getting out mats and tangles.
  • Rake – Use on thick-coated dogs. Perfect for pulling out dead hair and debris from dogs with double coats like the Chow, Siberian Husky, German Shepherd, etc. It can also help with mats. Make sure you choose a length that is not too long or too short for your dog’s hair.
  • Bristle Brush – Great for shorthair dogs and finishing medium/long-hair dogs.  Pulls out loose coat and dirt and keeps them looking shiny and smooth.
  • Pin Brush – Good for longer coats with a fur more similar to human hair. Good for dogs with no mats, can be helpful during blow-drying and can also be used to fluff a coat at the end of grooming.

2. Set the scene – Set your dog up for success. Create a safe and comfortable environment. Not all dogs like being brushed, especially if mats are involved so be calm and gentle, and have a few calming treats on hand.

3. Detangle – The most important part of brushing is to make sure your dog is clean and tangle free. Using a good detangling product can help make this process smooth and more pleasant for everyone involved.

  • The most common places for mats are behind the ears, anywhere a collar or harness may rub, such as under the neck, or under the arms, belly, back of legs and the base of the tail.

4. Brush Your Dog

  • Use firm, but gentle strokes to brush your dog's coat.
  • Do not brush too hard - you should be able to hear the brush scraping the skin.
  • Make sure to get to the root of the hair, without brushing/irritating the skin.
  • For shorthair dogs, use short, quick strokes and on longer-hair dogs, slow and long strokes.
  • Take extra care to be gentle around the face, ears and underbelly.
  • Work your way through the body. Start at the front or back, and work systematically to get to the other end.
  • Create a routine so that your dog gets accustomed to being brushed in a certain manor.
  • If your dog is new to being brushed, make sure to reward them along the way to help create a positive experience. If they can’t stand the brush, reward them for just sitting near it or having it touch them without being brushed and work your way up.

Most importantly enjoy this time with your dog. Though it can sometimes feel like a chore to both of you, this can be a wonderful to relax and enjoy a positive and calm interaction together. 

Samantha Meyers
Samantha Meyers


Samantha is the former web editor for DogFancy and and has enjoyed years of sharing her passion and knowledge for pets with the world. A lover of all things dog and an avid baker and crafter, she regularly contributes dog-friendly recipes and projects to Dogster and Lucky Puppy magazines. Sam lives in Southern California with her husband and their two dogs Huggs the Frenchie and Quinn the Aussie-Poodle. 

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