She takes Winston, her 3-year-old Golden Retriever, to Independence Grove Dog Park in Libertyville when she can. Most of the time, however, they walk to the prairie a couple blocks from their Libertyville townhome. And, boy, does Winston like to run. He runs. He barks. He chases happily after birds and squirrels.
Sometimes, Winston gets into the tall grass. If she’s not careful, after they’ve had a lot of rain, Winston also gets into some of the swampy areas. He seems to like this the most. Maybe it appeals to his hunting-dog instincts, not that she ever takes him hunting. He’ll spook some birds. He’ll have a ball. But she has mixed feelings about his romps in the weeds. Sticklers inevitably gather in his hair. Either way, matts are sure to appear.
She’s learned to deal with the sticklers and mats promptly. Keep in mind that the sticklers are the foundation for the biggest mats. But, however the mats start, with or without the help of sticklers, the longer they’re there, the larger and more tangled they become.
One way to deal with mats in your dog’s hair is to keep them out of areas that will tend to cause more mats. She could do this, but Winston loves running through the weeds so much that she hasn’t got the heart to stop him. Of course, mats will tend to appear in the coats of dogs with longer hair even if they avoid romping in troubled areas.
Assuming that mats are inevitable, what can you do about them? Here are some tips on how to deal with mats in your dog’s hair.
- Brush often. If you brush your dog, even when you don’t find any mats, you may brush out the foundation for future mats. Besides, your dog will probably enjoy the attention, especially if you make the activity fun. You can even reward your dog afterwards with a treat. Before you know it, your dog is liable to come to you, tail wagging, and the brush in its mouth.
- When you find the mats, be gentle. Removing mats from your dog’s hair is a tedious and time-consuming task. It’s often frustrating. Keep your emotions under control. Become good at taking them out without hurting your dog in the process. If you do hurt your dog taking mats out of his or her hair, you’ll probably find that you have to fight with them when it comes time to get the mats out.
- Collect the tools to improve your ability to deal with mats. A brush, a scissors, a metal comb, some spray de-tangler: these are some of the tools you’ll probably want on hand. But, among your most important tools, other than patience, are your fingers. Learn to use your fingers to pull the mats ‘gently’ apart. Pull them apart little by little. And, once they’re starting to come apart …
- Brush gently. When brushing, hold the hair so that it is slack between your fingers and the dog’s skin. Then, brush beyond your fingers. Remember, your fingers are there to buffer the pain for your dog’s sake.
- Time for a bath? Once you’ve taken the mats out, you may want to give your dog a bath. Use some dog shampoo. Rinse and ‘repeat’ – Not necessarily. Instead, you may want to use a conditioner to soften the hair. Then, after you’ve dried your dog with a towel, brush your dog.
If you stay on top of the mats, your dog will appreciate it. And, when you take your dog out for a walk on a Libertyville sidewalk, your neighbors are liable to comment about your dog’s beautiful, mat-free hair.