How to Brush a Dog Who Hates Being Brushed, According to the Groomer

We asked the expert to weigh in on everything from techniques to choosing the right grooming tools.

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woman brushing yorkshire terrier with ponytail
Photo: Ilona Shorokhova / Getty Images

Having someone brush your hair might feel relaxing for you, but your dog is less likely to understand what's going on. If not done correctly, the experience could be unpleasant or even traumatizing for your beloved pup. Pets that dislike being brushed are not destined to have messy fur for the rest of their lives, though—grooming them simply calls for the right technique and a lot of patience "Brushing your dog's hair regularly helps their coat stay healthy by distributing the natural oils to the skin and fur," explains Michelle Wildman, director of differentiated experience at Pet Supplies Plus. "It reduces mats and tangles that can become very painful for your dog. Brushing your pet regularly also reduces the amount of dead hair and dander in your home and on your clothes."

Here's how to minimize stress, keeping Fido distracted and content, the next time you take a brush to his fur.

Choose the right type of brush.

First, know that the type of brush you use can also makes a difference. "Generally, a bristle-style brush works on all coat types but is softer on a pet's delicate skin than a human brush," Wildman suggests. "For smooth, short-haired coated dogs such as Chihuahuas, you would look for a brush that has softer bristles. Wiry and curly coat dogs such as Poodles or Terriers need a brush that has firm, closed spaced bristles. Long-haired coated breeds such as Yorkies or Golden Retrievers would need a brush that has longer and wider spaced bristles." So, choose a brush that coordinates with your dog's fur length. If you're looking for a bristle-style brush, try Burt's Bees Palm Bristle Brush ($8.27,

You can also select grooming tools and supplies that address particular issues in your animal's fur. Undercoat rakes, such as the Safari Dog Undercoat Rake ($8.16,, work well for dogs that have thick undercoats and lots of hair. Combs like the FURminator Finishing Comb For Dogs ($7, can help remove loose hair, mats, and tangles. "De-shedding tools groom the undercoat and help remove shedding hair. There are de-matting rakes that can remove tighter mats, but you should use caution, as these types of rakes usually include a sharp razor that helps break up the mat," Wildman says. For serious tangles and mats, you should take your dog to a groomer and maintain a regular regimen of brushing at home afterward.

Use a gentle brushing technique.

First, consider past experiences: Your dog might not like the brush or something else about the experience from other times you or someone tried to do it. Wildman says that you want to make sure that you are calm and gentle when you brush your dog. You never want to pull at mats or tangles in their fur, because this can tug on the root, pull at their skin, and cause them pain.

Train your dog to enjoy brushing by offering praise and treats when he sits still to let you brush him. Condition him to associate being brushed with a pleasant and relaxing experience by wearing a pair of Mr. Peanut's Pet-Grooming Hand Gloves ($10, "You can use distraction techniques by putting some peanut butter on a spoon and have them lick it while you are brushing," she says. "The number one thing to remember is that a dog's skin is much thinner than ours, so do not press down hard with a brush nor make quick, jerky motions. Go slow and gentle from head to tail."

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