Grooming a Hot Mess Who Doesn’t Want to Be Groomed: Getting the Knots Out!

I have so many wonderful memories of fun grooming sessions with my show Corgis.  Show dogs get groomed a whole lot, and my Corgis just loved it.  I often sat on the floor with a movie on, and got out my brushes and combs and went to town!  The dogs loved the attention, and often would lay with their heads in my lap and snooze while I gently brushed and combed their dense fur.  The only exception would possibly have come when I had to work on those fluffy pants that Corgis have!

When a dog’s coat grows, it grows in the direction from his nose toward his tail.  That’s generally how we all pet our dogs too…we start at his head, and stroke back toward his tail.  So what happens, is the loose coat that’s ready to come out, slides along with our hands when we pet our dog, and it gathers at his rump, creating knots in his fur that are difficult to brush through.


If you have a double-coated dog, this is why you often see clumps of fur in the haunches of your dog.  All of those little clumps represent knots which prevent a brush or comb from easily sliding through.  Haunches are pretty tender areas on dogs, and overzealous owners can really do some strong pulling and hurt their dogs while they are grooming them.  Naturally, one unpleasant grooming experience leads to your dog not wanting to repeat that experience the next time!!

Before I bathe Rugby, I always make sure that the knots are out of his coat.  Water will tighten the knots, and that makes it even more difficult to loosen them after a bath.  So I always start out with a good combing before he gets in the tub.  This also helps keep extra fur from clogging up the bath tub drain!

Rugby has a double coat, but he doesn’t have a lot of undercoat, and his coat texture is very soft and silky.  It just knots up left and right, and sometimes, because of the type of coat he has, I opt to cut the knots out rather than work them out with a comb or brush.  Usually he gets knots right behind his ears, or his belly, and once in a while, in the long fur of his haunches.  It’s typically very easy to snip those knots out and disguise the little bald place with his additional fur.

I stay on top of those mats and knots so that they don’t work down to his skin.  When they are in the loose part of his fur, they’re very easy to safely snip out without risk of cutting Rugby in the process!  If they are a bit tight, I always place a comb under the knot or mat, between Rugby’s skin and the knot, so that when I trim, I have the comb as a barrier…protecting his skin from being cut.

Rugby has a very low threshold of being “messed” with, so I try to keep grooming sessions short and sweet.  I don’t try to get all of it done at one time.  Rugby doesn’t manage that very well.  And that’s honestly why I prefer to snip out knots rather than try to pick through them.  Rugby just doesn’t enjoy that experience, and I try to minimize the negative impact for him so that he’s more compliant the next time I need to tackle grooming!

When it comes to combing and brushing, I often spread blankets on the big bed in my room and do it there.  Rugby loves being on the big bed, and that feels like a treat to him.  It’s also big enough to allow a bit of wiggling around, but I don’t have to worry about him falling off.  He’s more relaxed where he’s comfortable, and the more relaxed and comfortable that I can make him, the more time he’s going to give me to work on him.

In one grooming session, I’ll locate all of the knots and snip them out.  I use blunt nose scissors that are curved.  I might do some light brushing….just a quick once over, but nothing too much.  He doesn’t really like being brushed much, so as long as I keep my sessions short and sweet, he’s a good sport and he will play along.

In another grooming session, I might do his entire left side.  And then repeat with the right side on the next day.  So I’m working all of him over, but in short segments, with something that he can mange and enjoy as much as possible.  I don’t do a complete brush out every single week.  I don’t have time for that for starters, and I’m not sure Rugby would be cooperative if he knew he was going to be seriously worked over every week.  He gets light brushing every week, and I check for knots and mats and deal with those.  I also try to trim his nails on a weekly basis as well.

The one thing that I always do at the completion of every grooming session no matter how much time is involved, is give Rugby a very special snack.  He doesn’t get special snacks very often, so when I need to do something that I know he doesn’t like, grooming for example, he always knows that as soon as we are finished, he will get something that’s extra special.  That’s very important to both of us, and because I’m so consistent about it, Rugby knows that he can count on me to reward him for his hard work in cooperating with something he really doesn’t enjoy!



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