What is holistic dog grooming?

Holistic Dog Grooming, for Lead The Walk, is taking a tailored approach to the individual needs of each dog that visits the grooming studio. It is important to Serena to get to know each dog, their temperament, health and previous grooming experience.

The health and wellbeing of each dog is her absolute priority. Serena’s handling is focused on the comfort, safely and wellbeing of each dog at all times with plenty of breaks, if necessary.

If a dog has had a poor experience elsewhere and has become reactive to certain noises or equipment such as clippers, we adapt our grooming approach and the techniques used, working with the dog to overcome their fears.

She only uses the highest quality dog shampoos, conditioners and treatments. Any products that are used on a dog are carefully selected based on the dog’s skin condition, coat type and any known allergies. Serena uses natural shampoo’s with and without essential oils as some dog’s skin can be irritated by essential oils so they are not always appropriate.

Serena conducts a visual health check of the dog prior to commencing each groom, looking for any lumps, bumps or irregularities in skin, coat and nails. Serena will check a dogs eyes, ears, teeth and gums as well as feel for any musculoskeletal conditions.

The condition of a dogs coat and external examinations can tell Serena a great deal about a dog’s diet and overall health. Serena will provide pet guardians with guidance on diet and nutrition, if requested, and advise on any conditions believed to require veterinary assessment. 

Serena will always outline what needs to be gone at home in between grooms and provide recommendations for tools and techniques to make the grooming experience effective and enjoyable for both the dog and their human family.

It is important to build a strong relationship with each dog and pet guardians are encouraged to bring their dog for grooming at least once every 12 weeks.

Doodle Do’s

Gordon is a Cavapoochon, a mix of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Poodle and Bichon Frise.

If you are thinking of getting a doodle puppy, make sure you have considered what your new dog will need in terms of grooming. Doodles have a wool coat which will continually grow until it is trimmed. It will also mat easily if not brushed regularly and like felt material, your dogs coat will felt when the wool hairs are compacted and rub together.

You will need to budget for your new dog needing to visit the groomer every 6-12 weeks as well as how much time you will have to look after their wool coat.

You will need to brush their coat everyday or at least every other day from the first day they arrive into your home and remember that your new dog has a lifetime of grooming ahead of them so it’s important to take them to a groomers as soon as possible, not necessarily to get a trim, but for them to get used to the environment, noises and equipment. You should ensure that your new puppy has visited a groomer at least once before they reach 16 weeks as they learn to deal with new things without fear before this age. People often leave it too late thinking that their dog only needs to visit a groomer when their dogs coat is too long and it needs cutting.

On average you can budget for £60-90 per grooming visit. The cost will vary depending on the size of your doodle, their coat condition and what your requirements are. Depending on how short you keep your dogs coat, they will need to visit a groomer between 5-9 times per year.

Before you bring your new dog home, you should research if you have a qualified groomer close by and how are you going to get there. Like hairdressing, sadly the dog grooming industry is not regulated so it is important that you establish if your nearest groomer holds the appropriate qualifications and insurance.

If you want to groom your doodle yourself at home, it is important that you fully understand canine anatomy, canine first aid and how to keep yourself and your dog safe at all times.

Felting can be fatal as your dog is unable to manage its own dog temperature when their coat is matted to their skin. The only safe way to remove felting is to clip underneath it.

The best way to learn to fully groom your own dog safely at home is to attend a one-day dog grooming course at a local college, where you can take your dog and learn in a safe environment. If this is something of interest to you, it is important to consider what you will need in terms of equipment. You will need to purchase the following items, as a minimum, in order to successfully groom your dog at home; A pair of electric clippers, a pair of grooming scissors, a stainless steel comb, a slicker brush, numerous clipper blades, a hairdryer, a pair of nail trimmers, a suitable table, personal protective equipment and cleaning products. You can budget for between £500-£1000.

 If you wanted to reduce the frequency of grooming visits, you will need to brush your dogs coat everyday and have them trimmed very short each time they visit the groomer. If you like to have your dogs coat longer, you can have am interim visit to the groomer, where they do everything they would for a full groom except they don’t trim your dogs body or head. This schedule works well if you’re not able to brush your dog every day and reduces the amount of time your dog is in the grooming studio. Silk and wool coats are the most challenging to manage as they grow continuously. If you are concerned about grooming costs, you may wish to consider a short, smooth haired breed where you can learn to trim their nails and clean their ears safely.

If is a common misconception that doodles do not shed. Wool coats shed, it’s just that you don’t see the hair on your floor as the dead hair remains contained within the coat and needs to be removed with regular brushing. Brushing should form part of your dog’s daily routine.

Top reads for Pet Parents

As a pet parent and professional dog groomer, I’m always looking to deepen my understanding of dogs and how best to care for them. Over the years, I’ve read many books but there are a few which I believe every pet guardian would benefit from reading.

Pet Food Fraud – Dr Tom Lonsdale

If you feed your dog a highly processed commercial dog food such as kibble, tinned or food in trays, I highly recommend that you read this book. Whistleblower vet Dr Tom Lonsdale shines a spotlight on the connection between the world’s biggest pet food manufacturers and the increasing ill health of our dogs.

The Forever Dog – Rodney Habib and Dr Karen Shaw Becker

Raw Meaty Bones – Tom Lonsdale

The Complete Book of Cat & Dog Health – Lise Hansen

Whether you’re an experienced pet parent or considering buying a puppy or rescuing a dog, I urge you to read this book.

The Complete Book of Cat & Dog Health contains the most up to date information on looking after your dog’s health and wellbeing and is written with honesty, integrity and authority.

Lise Hansen, a holistic vet at the Hyde Park Veterinary Centre in West London, has worked in small animal practice for over 25 years. In her book, Lise talks about puppies and the importance of early socialisation, diets (commercial, homemade and raw), the truth about vaccinations and neutering and the dangers of chemical wormers and flea treatments. An expert of herbs and homeopathy, Lise outlines common canine health conditions, symptoms and alternative treatments. She dispels common misconceptions on vaccinations and neutering and challenges outdated views and conventional thinking.

Cooperative Care: Seven Steps to Stress-Free Husbandry – Deborah A. Jones

This is a recommendation for any dog parent struggling to clean their dogs ears, clip their dogs nails, administer eye drops or brush their dogs teeth.

Cooperative Care: Seven Steps to Stress-Free Husbandry is a practical guide to conditioning your dog to become a willing participant in their own health care, grooming and general body handling.

In this practical, easy to read book, Deborah presents step by step guidance, methods and exercises for working with your dogs head, ears, eyes, teeth, and feet. She also presents invaluable advice on muzzle training and the administration of medications.

Why You Need to Feed Your Dog a Raw Food Diet – Amy Marshall

The title of this book could be considered a little misleading. Rather than a complete introduction to raw food diets for beginners, it is more a justification for why you should not feed your dog anything other than a raw food diet.

In an easy to read format, Amy Marshall discusses canine evolution, the carnivore vs omnivore debate and the history of the dog food market. She looks at the power of pet food advertising, dog food ingredients and the dog food manufacturing processes.

If you are questioning what you are currently feeding your dog, this is the book for you.

Dr Beckers Real Food For Healthy Dogs & Cats – Beth Taylor and Karen Shaw Becker

I’ve been a huge fan of Dr. Karen Becker for many years now and if you haven’t heard of her before, I strongly suggest that you explore her videos on Youtube or visit the Mercola Healthy Pets website for articles packed with helpful information and tips on caring for your pets the natural way.

Based on ancestral and species appropriate diets, Real Food for Healthy Dogs and Cats book, provides a nutrition plan and recipes for a meat based diet. Dr Becker explains the impact proteins, fats, carbohydrates, bone minerals, vitamins, and fibre have on the health of your dog. She describes how to prepare your homemade food, what equipment you’ll need and how to store your meals. This book includes recipes, feeding charts and explains how to transition your dog to a raw food diet.

You may find the charts and calculations a little daunting at first but it’s worth persevering, as your dog will be happier and healthy for it.

Feeding Dogs – Dr Conor Brady

If you’re keen to develop your knowledge and understanding of raw feeding and looking for a heavy weight book on the subject, then look no further that Feeding Dogs by Dr Conor Brady.

Dr Conor Brady, a canine nutritionist, has dedicated the last 10 years of his life to researching and meticulously pulling together all of the information presented in this hard hitting book. Written with passion and conviction, Dr Conor Brady, revisits the carnivore vs. omnivore debate, the ancestry of the domestic dog and discusses the issues with kibble and why it is so damaging to your dogs health.

Dr Brady challenges the practice of commercial vets encouraging pet parents to feed their dogs kibble and the influences on the veterinary sector. Dr Conor Brady demonstrates the benefits of feeding your dog a raw food diet and includes recipes and methods for preparing your own raw dog food at home.

5 top tips for dog parents

  1. Before washing your dog, make sure that you’ve de-matted their coat first, as mats will tighten when immersed in water, making them more difficult to remove afterwards.
Remove mats and tangles before bathing

2. Dried sleep and gunk is easier to remove from the corner of your dogs eye when wet. Instead of trying to remove when dry or resorting to scissors, gently run a little warm water from a shower head over your dogs muzzle or use a moist cotton wool pad to soften the gunk. Once wet, gently and slowly use your finger or a clean damp face cloth to remove.

Tear staining can be reduced with a change of diet

3. With any new puppy, get them used to you touching their legs, feet and tail, as well as standing on a table and running your fingers between their teeth and gums. This will benefit you, your groomer and your vet as your puppy gets older as they will not find this activity unusual or frightening.

4. When using eye and ear wipes, make sure you use a separate wipe for each side even if the wipe appears clean to avoid transferring bacteria from one to the other.

5 Feed your dog the best quality dog food you can afford as this will not only improve their digestion and overall health but improve the condition their skin and coat too.