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Pet owners

A basic introduction to clipping your dog

BASIC GUIDELINES FOR USING A CLIPPER on your dog
Intended for those contemplating undertaking clipping for the first time!

If you are the owner of a breed of dog which requires for fashion purposes, breed style, hygiene, cleanliness or health reasons to have its coat kept short, it is highly probable you will have at some time to have to regularly undertake clipping off its coat or if you feel not confident enough, then have to take the animal to a professional, either a groomer or your veterinary surgery if they undertake such work!

Many dog owners should be perfectly capable of clipping their dog, and in deed enjoy the satisfaction of undertaking the work themselves. From the dogs point of view it is clearly less stressful to have a "shave" in its own home environment, rather than motor down to the local "barbers" - the car journey alone for some dogs can being stressful. From your point of view it will also save you money - in the long run - not initially due to the setting up costs!

First make sure you get the right type of machine, avoid the Multi Pet type at £29.99 clippers with all the pictures of animals from mice to elephants - they will not do the job as rather a lot of people soon discover after visiting the local pet store or shopping mall!

Rest assured what you need undisputedly is a clipper onto which you can fit a "detachable blade!" - the simply fact is they are designed to cut the hair and can be selected to clip at a predetermined depth! These are the type of blades either the vet or your groomer would use.

Before you get down to the real task of clipping, it is often a good idea to allow your dog to get used to the sound of the machine before you apply it. Some dogs are nervous to new sounds!

Sort out upon what you are going to stand your dog on before you start the actual task of clipping. Grovelling on the floor is not recommended! Ideally you need a table, at a comfortable height to you and which saves you bending a lot resulting later in backache! Grooming table can be purchases - these will fold for storage after use!

If you buy a table - don't be mean to yourself - get one large enough for the dog and your tools! Nothing worse than dog and tools yard/meters apart! If you have a medium to large dog get a large 4ft long table! You will find the extra space invaluable!

You may find a "control arm" post, fixed to your table useful as this enables you to, with the aid of a "noose" secure your dog and leave you "hands free to clip! Otherwise ones wife, husband, partner or the neighbour can provide useful assistance!
Only ever clip your dog, when completely dry! Ideally before you clip any animal fully, it helps if it has been bathed and thoroughly washed using a good quality animal shampoo. Gets all the dirt and dust out of the coat! When washing work the shampoo well into the hair, and when suitably cleansed, do make sure you rinse well with clean water being careful to remove any shampoo still deep in the hair! Towel the dog dry if you do not possess a dryer, otherwise dry thoroughly with a warm air dryer suitably positioned to dry the animal without causing it distress.
Before you use the clipper on your dog read the manufacturer's instructions and familiarise yourself with the machine. The on/off switch is a useful start! Instructions on how to fit the blades and oiling are all important to the performance of the clipper. Maintenance advice should be adhered to and followed out in accordance with instructions.
Be mindful blades naturally go blunt! There is no given time schedule - it just happens! Usually halfway through clipping and on a Sunday! As blades take time to be resharpened, normally about a week, spare blades are advisable! Half clipped dogs feel embarrassed being seen out on the pavement - with or without you!
When using a clipper if it is a mains appliance ensure the cable is clear of any obstacles and not in the way of your feet. Get yourself well organised, and have a safe and secure place to put the machine when not in use even if only for a few moments. Many clippers are fitted with a "hanging loop" Use it and hang your clipper up when not using it! A clipper, which accidentally falls to the ground, may easily result in either a broken blade, broken casing, or internal damage all of which apart from terminating the clipping, can also be costly!
During the operation of "actual" clipping, keep your wrist flexible and relaxed. This is very important because if the animal should suddenly decide to move whilst you are in the process of clipping, hair removed from the wrong place, or worse, a cut to the dog's body may result. Always keep the face of the blade "flat" to the body. DO NOT attempt to clip half way up the coat hair or at any part other that at the body surface! Never attempt either to angle or dig into the skin with the machine. Allow the clipper to do the work and don't be in a hurry! Rushing invariably results in an accident!
Listen to the clipper, if the tone of the motor changes, more oil may be required. If the blades suddenly start to chatter you may be trying to go through the coat hairs too fast. If the blades appear to refuse to cut into the hair try drawing back and re-approach the hair again but this time in a slower manner. Blades can refuse to cut for a number of reasons; often one single strand of hair trapped between the two blades (cutter and comb) can stop the cutting action.
Different dog breeds have different clipped out styles and there are a number of books video and other information to give you guidance on this. When clipping always follow the grain of the hair unless otherwise so instructed. Going against the grain will result in a finished cut half of the depth for which the blade is selected. For example a size #10 - 2mm blade would give a finish cut of not 2mm but 1mm! On older dogs or those, which have excess fat or conversely are extremely thin "stretch the skin with your hand as this will make clipping both easier and far safer for the dog. If you do not, you may easily cut the surface!
A few golden rules are:

1. Keep the clipper blade head flat to the body.

2. Do not attempt blade entry into the coat at some halfway point in its length; blades do not cut successful that way.

3. Clip in an organised direction or pattern.

4. Note items of importance - at least to the dog!
certain "bits" can get removed by accident!

5. Dogs who are thin or older of for whatever reason a bit skinny or wrinkled, stretch the skin as you clip - makes for a smoother surface.

6. If previously washed make sure the dog is TOTALLY dry before you start clipping.

7. As most dogs whatever their nature are normally not enthralled at the invitation to be clipped, so when you have completed the task, assuming you dog has not taken one look in the mirror, vowed to have it revenge on you at the first opportunity and fled, a quiet moment with a plate of its favourite treats might be a good reward! A nice tripe stick rarely goes amiss!

8. This is a task, which you are likely to find becomes a routine, so be mindful of every action you undertake, and try to make them all as pleasurable as possible for the dog!

9. After clipping, discipline yourself to immediately cleaning both your clipper and the blades used. Not only is this a good and sensible practice, but it will over the years also save you considerable sums of money on unnecessary repairs and other bills. Having suitable cleaned and re-oiled your machine and the blade next carefully put them away in a dry and secure place.

10. Lastly! NEVER lend your clipper to a friend! -whatever the reason!

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