Although most Australian Labradoodle owners have their dogs professionally groomed, I would like to offer some hints and tips that you can use at home between visits to the groomer.
First, let’s talk about dog groomers. As with anything, please do your homework in order to select a groomer that has your dog’s best interest at heart. I find the best way to find someone great is to ask other dog owners, especially doodle owners. Visit the shop and meet the groomer ahead of time and ask lots of questions. Some groomers are not familiar with taking care of doodles so search the internet and find photos of haircuts you like. If you take those in, it will help your groomer achieve the look you are going for. It may take a haircut or two before you and the groomer are both satisfied with your dog’s haircut. Always communicate clearly and respectfully in order to forge a good working relationship with your groomer. I have my dogs groomed every 8 weeks with at-home maintenance in between appointments.
Brushing your best buddy
Try to get into the habit of brushing your dog at least three times a week. This will prevent matting of your dog’s coat. If mats develop, they can hold moisture and cause skin problems. Mats can become so thick that they cannot easily be removed and the entire coat must be clipped short in order to begin growth again. The grooming tool that I use most is just a simple metal comb that I order online. If there are just a few mats, you can also use a dematting comb but only if your dog remains comfortable. If the mats are numerous and/or large, you can clip them out carefully with blunt end scissors. The last thing you want to do is put your dog in pain by trying to comb out a serious case of matting. Regular brushing will prevent this from ever happening or, if it does occur, make a grooming appointment and let the professionals take care of it.
Most young puppies do not naturally enjoy being brushed. Working gradually, try to brush the hair a little each day, if only for a minute or two. Be gentle and use a soothing voice. It will take patience but eventually you will be able to work with the coat for longer periods and eventually your dog will likely enjoy daily brushing. After all, it can be a great bonding time for you and your dog.
Into the bath
Before bathing your dog, make sure that he/she is completely brushed first. I use Mink Sheen 4 in 1 pet shampoo. It is a great product that is a shampoo, conditioner, odor control and natural insect repellant all in one liquid. The shampoo is made in Oregon and is available to order online.
While still a puppy, you can use the kitchen sink for baths. Make sure the water is tepid. Take it nice and easy at first and reassure your puppy. As your dog grows, it is quite easy to bathe them in the bathtub. Just keep the water running and use a plastic pitcher to wet and rinse your dog. It is actually possible to teach your dog not to do the “dog shake” until after you have towel dried them. You can search online if you need more details or hints about bathing your puppy/dog.
Nail clipping should be done carefully. I like to use the scissor type nail clippers every other week or so to just take off the very end tip of each nail. If you are at all unsure about clipping nails, have your groomer or vet help you at first. You never want to take a chance and cut the nails too short as they can bleed profusely. If your groomer uses a Dremel type of tool for nails, you can accustom your puppy to foot vibrations by using an electric toothbrush. With the toothbrush on, lightly pass the buzzing handle over the puppy’s feet each day. In no time at all, your pup will be used to those vibrations and ultimately accept Dremel nail trimming just fine.
For home care purposes, I clean my dog’s ears weekly using a cotton ball and canine ear wash. I do not pluck any hair out of the ears as some suggest. Consult your groomer if you have concerns about ear care.
It is a good idea to check your dog’s coat daily especially if they play outside. It is amazing how many little bits of nature can get caught in their hair. A good brushing will keep your dog’s coat healthy looking and free of debris.
Of course, one option for easy care is to keep your labradoodle’s hair cut fairly short. The shorter style is definitely easier to brush and keep clean. It’s really up to you.