Is there anything that a dog loves more than running around (especially with other dogs), exploring, and getting dirty? Ok, maybe treats for the highly food-motivated, but being active and outside has to be in at least the top two for all dogs.
We love to give Murphy the opportunity to do all of his favorite things as often as possible, and we hike, camp, and spend time exploring outdoors with him often. What we didn’t know when we brought Murphy home as a pup was how much we had to learn about grooming and gear to keep his skin, coat, and paws clean and healthy because of how active he is. We learned fast by talking to other dog owners, reading online, and a little bit of trial and error. Now we have a system and a routine down that makes it super easy. Here I’ll share what we’ve learned and some of our favorite products. They fall into three categories: maintain, prevent, and damage control.
It’s important for us to maintain Murphy’s coat between trips to the groomer so that he is healthy, comfortable, and looking good at all times. Regular maintenance also extends the amount of time between trips for a full groom.
Before Murphy came home, we purchased all kinds of tools, brushes, combs, and scissors. Here are the ones we use regularly now and a bit about how we use them:
- Steel Comb: This is our main tool that we use to brush Murphy and keep him knot free. It does a great job of getting to the root of his hair to get out any starts of tangles before they turn into mats.
- Undercoat Rake: This is used almost as much as the steel comb, especially as we get mid-way to the next visit to the groomer. This rake gets right to the root and removes any loose undercoat that might lead to matting.
- Slicker Brush: We love to use this brush before we take Murphy somewhere or take his photo. It makes him look smooth, fluffy, and soft.
- Scissors – We use these to trim hair around his eyes between grooms. His face hair always seems to grow the fastest and it can get long enough to cover his eyes. The scissors we use has a rounded end, so even if he makes a sudden movement, we won’t harm him.
We have found that spending just a little time on some maintenance each week, or before we go out on a hike/camping trip, usually means less time grooming later. Here are our go-to products and tips for preventing the need to spend a ton of hours cleaning and grooming after the fact:
- Regular maintenance: Staying on top of things and brushing Murphy weekly is the #1 way that we maintain his coat. Spending just a little time each week for a quick combing prevents us from having to spend lots of time getting out knots, de-matting, etc.
- Short hair cut: Shorter hair is easier to maintain, especially for an active dog that likes to explore, hike, and swim. We used to let Murphy’s hair get pretty long until his first summer when we learned how much this dood loves water. He swam so much we couldn’t keep up with maintaining the knots, and even our groomer couldn’t get them out. It was so bad they all needed to be cut out, and he got a cut waaaay shorter than he’d ever had. I thought we were going to hate it, but turns out Murph was even cuter this way, it is much lower maintenance, and he loved it too (sooo much cooler in the summer). Since then, we get him cut this short every-time, and we’re all much happier. If your dog is active, in/out of the woods and the water, I highly recommend a short cut.
- Dog gaiters: This is the gear we never thought we’d need, but now we use so often. Dog gaiters from Backcountry Paws are booties and leg protection in one. They’re perfect for deep snow when you want to keep it from balling up on their legs, and for rainy days when they’re going to get soaked and muddy. We have Murphy wear these in all kinds of conditions — they save us from having to remove burs, comb out snowballs, or clean who knows what else off his legs, and all while protecting his paws, too.
- Mushers Paw Protection: This balm is perfect for moisturizing dry pads and for proactively protecting paws from the elements. We use this all winter long to protect Murphy’s paws, and sooth them when they’re dry or cracked.
- Ear Cleaner: We clean Murphy’s ears after every swim using ear rinse to prevent any ear infections.
If we’re doing the first sections above right, we don’t end up here very often, but it is inevitable that we end up needing to do damage control every now and then. When there are mattes, knots, burs (oh, those are the WORST), and who knows what else, here are our go-to’s for getting back to a soft, tangle-free coat:
- Steel comb: If something is stuck in Murphy’s fur or he has a knot, we always try to use the comb first. If the comb is getting stuck, we move onto the next one…
- Matt remover: This thing is like magic! It cuts through and gets out even the toughest mats and stickiest burs. This has been a complete lifesaver so many times.
- Cowboy Magic: Ok, this stuff actually is magic, it’s even in the name. We will use this when Murphy has a lot of knots. You just massage a little into his fur and it helps to release the tangle, making it easy to comb through — like magic!
- The groomer: When things get really bad, we just bring him into the professional. We have only had to do this once (as mentioned in the story above). Otherwise, he sees her about every 1.5-2 months.
Do you have any other tips or products that you love to use?
Here’s a link to an Amazon list of most of the products we mentioned: here
Hi! I’m Theresa. I live with my husband Travis, goodlendoodle Murphy, and cat Tonka in Minnesota. I’m a marketer, adventurer, and hobby photographer. We love to travel as much as we can, and spend most of our free time outdoors hiking, camping, skiing, or at our lake cabin in Wisconsin.