I get asked many times as a groomer how owners can maintain their dogs coats in-between regular grooming sessions or when their dogs get in sticky situations ie spaniels with ears full of burs. Obviously, regular appointments with your groomer will keep your dog in good health and condition and whatever the breed, will benefit its wellbeing.

But, between these appointments, situations may arise. Owning two working dogs myself, I have often found myself giving an emergency bath at 11.30 at night after a rolling incident or stroking my spaniel’s ears to discover a knotty mess with burs in. You’d also think my English pointer requires no grooming but will sometimes leave a trail of white hair on everything he touches if his coat isn’t maintained.


Ideally making “grooming time” part of your training/routine and having space for this will help both you and your dog. For many dogs that visit us in the salon, owners have said they struggle to brush their dogs either because the dog doesn’t seem to like it or they end up chasing the dog around the house. Getting your dog to cooperate, sit up and participate in grooming time can be challenging and is often not practical along with being uncomfortable for your knees, rolling around trying to keep hold of your dog on the floor.

We usually advise a worktop space or a table that you can safely lift your dog onto. Obviously, for bigger dogs, this may not be practical or safe so this would work better in the bath or shower where the means to escape is restricted.

For dogs that are groomed regularly, being placed on a raised surface such as a table or worktop (as long as you can be sure your dog will not jump off and can be safe) will remind them of being at the groomers and should go some way to helping them relax.

Ideally getting your dog used to grooming time is something we should be doing from the word go. This will make your life easier and the whole experience more pleasant and enjoyable for your dog. Having this time will give you chance to concentrate with ease when brushing, combing and checking your dog over from head to toe.

For working breeds that require regular brushing – for example, cocker spaniels, springer spaniels and setters – the main areas to concentrate on are ears, tail and feathering. For breeds such as cockapoos, they require daily brushing all over!


Start with the comb and ensure it touches the skin through the coat and glide gently in the direction of the hair to brush through. If you hit a bit of tension and it won’t brush out (eg a knot or tangle of fur) then you will need to use a slicker brush to work through it. Make sure you use your fingers as a barrier to protect the skin and do not pull the hair when brushing, this will cause discomfort. (VIDEO)

If the slicker brush is not brushing the knot out, then repeat the process. If it is a bad knot and you can’t clear it then call your groomer and book an appointment.

Removing Sticky buds/burs and any debris:

Many dogs especially spaniels will end up with all sorts, mainly in their ears and feathering. Simple steps to removing these:

  • Use a detangler or conditioner spray on the affected area
  • With your none brushing hand, hold the hair above / behind the bur to prevent pinching or pulling of the skin when brushing as this may cause discomfort.
  • Use a slicker brush from the base of the coat to create a smooth path for the bur to slide out.
  • When removed, use a comb to brush through from the root to the tip to ensure there are no remaining burs or knots.
  • If the comb pulls and doesn’t glide smoothly through the coat then repeat with your slicker brush until it clears.


As dog owners, we all abide by the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and its 5 freedoms (see picture below). Heavy matting or knotting that won’t brush out or requires more than 15 minutes of brushing will cause large amounts of discomfort, pain and stress to your dog. This means the matted area needs to be removed humanely for the welfare of your dog – this generally will mean having the area clipped. 

If you think your dog is heavily matted and may need a professional, then contact your groomer to get them booked in as soon as possible.


Short-haired breeds are a little bit easier to manage. They don’t have as much hair for sticky burs to cling to, but having a number of these brushes (see image below) to hand will help remove any debris and excess hair when shedding is at its worst. These brushes essentially do the same job – some brushes work better on different coats so it’s trial and error.

You’ll be surprised how much hair you can remove with one of these! 


Ideally, you should be cleaning your dog’s ears once per week. Any ear cleaner or wash from the pet shop specifically for dogs is perfect, used with a cotton pad. We use cotton pads not earbuds to wipe around the entrance of the ear safely. Doing this weekly will give you the opportunity to see if there is any wax/dirt build up or if there is any redness, smell or signs of anything untoward happening.


Keeping nails at a healthy length and getting them trimmed regularly will avoid uncomfortable paws and ingrowing/curling round nails. If your dog has dewclaws, these may grow quickly as they aren’t worn down as well as the nails that are making contact with any surface. Some dogs do have rear dewclaws and the same applies. If you feel confident in trimming your dog’s nails, get yourself a pair of dog-specific nail trimmers. If you don’t feel comfortable then again, book your dog in at your groomers to ensure they do not catch or split a nail.

If you are unsure about anything when it comes to anything mentioned in this blog then drop me a message on Instagram.

Written by Stacey Tyers from The Grooming Room.