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To Groom your Silky you will need certain basic tools:
- a pin brush
- a boar bristle brush
- a fine comb
- nail clippers
- quick stop
- thinning scissors
- electric clippers
- hair dryer
- shampoo & conditioner
Your Silky should be bathed every couple of weeks if you want to maintain the beautiful silky coat that the breed is known for. This needn't be such a terrible chore for either one of you as long as you start the process when your Silky is a puppy so he/she becomes used to it. Most will even get to enjoy the time that the two of you get to spend together.
First, place your Silky in the tub of warm water and wet the down down thoroughly. Then add shampoo and work in completely through the coat, being careful not to get any in your Silkys eyes or ears (you can put cotton balls in the ears to help prevent this). Rinse thoroughly. Repeat. Then add the conditioner and work it in. Leave the conditioner on the dog for 5 to 10 minutes then rinse until the water is clear and no bubbles are forming. Towel off your dog with a good absorbent terry towel.
Next, place your dog on your grooming table. If you don't own one then a rubber-backed bathmat placed on a table or counter will work just fine. Just make sure your dog has firm footing and cannot slip. I find the grooming is easier if you first blow-dry your dog for a few minutes on medium heat (never high) to allow the coat to start drying - but still remain damp. Then put down the dryer and work with your pin brush or comb (whichever you find works best for you) until you're sure you have removed any tangles or knots. (Hint: if you brush your Silky daily you will find your grooming sessions much easier on you both!) Once any tangles are removed then pick up the hair dryer again and finish drying your dog, stopping every couple of minutes the brush the coat in the direction you want it to go (from a centre part down the spine and straight down on either side). If you have either a grooming arm on your grooming table, or someone else to hold the dog while you groom, then you can blow-dry and brush at the same time. If you are alone do NOT take both hands off your dog at the same time. You would be amazed how quickly they can jump off the table and they can injure themselves quite badly.
Once the dog is dry you can begin to do the trimming. Don't panic - it's really very easy and once you've done it a couple of times you'll wonder why it ever worried you! The tail can be tidied by parting the tail on the upper side (like an extension of the part on the spine) and then using two of your fingers to pull the hair around the tail and to the back of the tail. (Your fingers should now be pinched together along the back of the tail with the excess hair sticking out from between your fingers). Scissor off the excess hair. Tidy up any loose ends and the tail is done.
Next, the feet. Holding the foot in your hand, use the other hand to brush back (towards the body) any hair that is growing above the "knee" joint. You are going to cut all the hair that grows below this joint and afterwards you want to be able to brush down the longer hair from above the joint so that your masterpiece of a groomed foot can peak out through the hair. Now, take your clippers and, holding them flat against the dog's leg, stroke the clippers in the direction that the hair grows (from the knee to the toes). Take long strokes from top to bottom and work your way all around the leg. When that is done, take your scissors and cut off any excess hair growing bewteen the pads as well as any longer hairs left growing around the foot that the clippers didn't remove. Then use the nail clippers to trim the ends off the toenails. (If a toenail bleeds, don't worry - it looks much worse than it is. Use Quick Stop on the nail to stop the bleeding. If you don't have this try corn starch.) Now, repeat on the other 3 feet.
You've now made it to the head. Using your clippers, and working in the direction the hair grows, clipper off the hair on the back of the ears (I find putting your hand under the ear while you're clipping gives you a more solid surface to work with) and the inside of the ears. Be very careful not to nick the ear. Then, using your scissors, trim off all the hair that sticks out off to the side of the ears. This will give the ears a nice, sharp, clean appearance.
Now the muzzle. The hair in between the eyes should be trimmed to resemble an upside-down V., rather like this: o/\o. Have the scissors pointing up and the tips well above your dogs eyes in case it suddenly jerks. Then use your thinning scissors to shorten some of the hair that grows on top of the muzzle to give your dog that well-groomed look.
Periodically you should check your dogs ears for build-up that might need cleaning out, and you might want to talk to your vet about what he recommends for cleaning the teeth. Toy breeds are prone to developing teeth problems - not because of problems with the dogs.... but because of the owners! People love to give their dogs people food, and they love to give them tins of moist food. Neither of which helps the dog maintain good teeth. Give your dog raw beef bones to chew: the meat on them is good too, and large hard biscuits also. Both help to remove build-up of tarter from your dogs teeth.