Brushing your dog's fur not only removes mats and tangles, but pulls out dust and shedding hairs, and spreads natural oils that make the fur glossy. Brushing too much, however, can break the hair and irritate your dog's skin. Finding the right balance depends on your dog's experience, maturity, health and the type and condition of his coat.
Whether you're working with a young puppy or an adult dog, if he hasn't been brushed before or dislikes the experience, start with short brushing sessions. Even if you're not able to brush his entire body, work for only a couple of minutes at a time. Make the experience positive, offering him plenty of praise and treats. Gradually increase the time you spend brushing him, adding a few minutes every session. If you are working with a young puppy, it may take some time for him to become patient enough for grooming sessions that last longer than 10 minutes.
Once your dog is used to being groomed, and is mature enough to sit still for more than a few minutes at a time, brushing sessions can last up to 30 minutes. You should brush only for as long as it takes to remove any tangles, loose hair or dirt on your dog's body. For short-haired dogs, this may only take a couple of minutes. A long-haired dog might take 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the thickness and condition of his coat. If it takes longer than 30 minutes, give yourself and your dog a break, and try again later in the day or the next day.
Brushing the same spot for too long can lead to "brush burn" or red, irritated skin that is sensitive to the touch. Also, if the brushing session becomes uncomfortable or tiring for your dog, he may resist being brushed. Follow your dog's lead when it comes to the amount of time you spend in a grooming session. If he has been sitting patiently and then acts impatient or uncomfortable, it's probably time for a break. Senior dogs or those with injuries may need shorter brushing sessions since it can be painful for them to sit or stand in certain positions for long.
As a general rule, dogs with short fur should be brushed about once or twice a week, and those with long fur should be brushed two to three times a week. If it's necessary to break up the brushing into several sessions to finish his whole body, brush him every day or every other day so that his whole body gets brushed two to three times per week.
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