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In the beginning the goal is to get your Coton used to the grooming process and make it a nice experience. The puppy coat is so soft and easy to care for but as they get older it becomes more difficult. At the age of about seven months old the puppy coat will start to come out and the adult coat will come. As this happens matts will form and you need to keep up with their coat. You must diligently brush and comb your puppy and see a groomer on a regular basis.
First you must choose the correct equipment.
Brushes: soft slicker brush for the legs and feet and a pin brush for the body. I recommend the Les Pooches matt zappers emergency brush with the red handle for getting out matts. This brush is expensive but really works great. Also, be careful it can hurt you and your puppy.
Combs: a combination of fine and course teeth metal comb.
Grooming Table: should be sturdy and covered with a non-slip surface, some are folding tables.
Ear Care: always have an ear cleaner on hand as suggested by your vet. Carefully wipe the inner ear with ear cleaner on a coton ball.
Coat Conditioning spray: I like Chris Christensen’s Ice on Ice to spray before brushing. It prevents hair breakage and helps with tangles and matts.
Brush your dog while they are standing and laying down. While the dog is laying down on its side have the paws facing towards you. Pick up the front paws one at a time and brush the hair under the chest and armpits. Starting at the chest part the coat the entire length of the body. The rest of the hair will fall toward the top line or back spine of the dog. Spray the hair lightly with conditioning mist. Then, in one inch sections brush from the skin all the way through the hair. After brushing, you should be able to get your metal comb through each small section. When you have finished each section in the row, make another part one inch above this one and repeat the process of brushing small sections along the row. Continue to brush each layer until you reach the top line or spine. Then turn the dog over and repeat the process on the opposite side.
When you brush the paws start at the toes and brush in layers working your way up to the shoulder. The inside of the front paws gets matted quickly pay special attention to this area.  Next, brush the chest also in layers moving upward to the neck and chin. Brush the cheeks and muzzle up towards the top of the head. Do not spray coat conditioner on this area. Also, be careful near the eyes with your brush.  Brush the ears downward on the front and back and check behind the ears. Brush the tail in a downward motion while holding your hand on the tail. Lastly, brush the top line or spine where you made the part back toward the tail. Go over the entire coat with the metal comb to make sure you have not missed any knots. If the comb does not go through brush this area again.
If you find matts because you have neglected to brush at least two or three times a week, separate the matted hair with your fingers. Try to work it apart by gently pulling on each side until you can brush it out. Here is where the fabulous Les Pooches matt zapper brush comes in handy. It gets in the matt and smoothes the hair.
Brushing needs to be done before bathing. Never put a a dog with tangles or matts in the bath. Water only tightens the matts.
Keep the toe nails short but be careful not to clip the quick. this is the red vein in the nail. If you hit it with the nail clipper it will hurt the dog and bleed. Quick stop will make the bleeding stop but your dog will not want its nails clipped again. It is best to let a professional groomer or vet clip the nails.  The paw pads need to be cleared of hair because it can cause the dog to slip and particles can get caught in the hair. Use blunt scissors to trim this hair and be careful never to nick the pad. It is hard to get the pads to stop bleeding. Again, I would recommend a professional groomer or the vet to do this.
Ears: You should care for your dogs ears weekly. Hair grows inside the ear canal and needs to be removed by your groomer. If you choose to do it yourself you must use ear powder which helps gripping the hair easier. Only remove the hair growing inside the canal pulling a few hairs at a time using your thumb and index fingers. Then, use a cotton ball dipped in ear cleaner to wipe the ear never go in the ear canal. If you find a brown discharge, your dog is itching their ears, shaking their head and you smell a foul odor in the ear this is an infection, please go to your veterinarian immediately. The doctor will give you drops that will clear up the ear infection.
Eyes: If your dog has tear staining or dirt near the corner of their eyes you need to clean it. There are eye wipes available or you may use baby wipes. Always keep this area dry by dabbing some corn starch on the hair here. Also, you may apply neosporin on this area which acts as a barrier. When the tear ducts drain it rolls down the neosporin rather than getting to the skin and causing irritation. If your dog has bad tear staining that you cannot control I recommend using a product called Angel Eyes.  It is a powder that is sprinkled on the dog food and it really does work.
Teeth: You need to clean your dogs teeth with a finger toothbrush and dog toothpaste. preferably daily but three times a week will help. As your dog gets older professional teeth cleanings from your veterinarian will be necessary.
Baths:  My dogs are bathed on a weekly basis.  How often you bathe your dog depends on your lifestyle. My dogs are free in my home, yard and some sleep in my bedroom. Therefore, I like them clean at all times.  Before the bath, your dog needs to be thoroughly brushed out. Any matting or tangles will only become tightened and worse when water hits it.  Make sure you bathe your dog on a non slip surface whether it be in the sink or a tub. Do not get water in the ears or eyes. Either put coton in the ears before the bath or fold the ear with your fingers so no water can get in. Use a tearless shampoo for the head and a heavy conditioning shampoo for the body. My favorite is Duursted but since it is not manufactured any more, I do use Les Pooches and other brands as well. The water temperature needs to be luke warm. Dogs have a higher body temperature than humans so please never use hot water. Wet the entire body and face, remember to fold the ears to prevent water getting in. Start at the back end and rub in the shampoo on every part of their body to the skin. When you get to the head use the tearless shampoo. Always apply conditioner after you have rinsed the shampoo. Rinse thoroughly both the shampoo and conditioner until there are no suds only clear water. After dry the the dog with towels and leave them around the dog. Then, dry with a low heat dryer that has a lot of power. Start at the rear moving the dryer constantly. Leave a towel around the areas of the dog you are not drying it will absorb the water you are getting off other areas. When the coat is almost dry you may take a pin brush or very soft slicker brush and fluff dry. This is brushing while the dryer is hitting the hair comparable to straightening our own hair. After the coat is completely dry use a metal comb to make sure you have not missed any tangles. Finally always give a treat after the grooming.

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