Tuesday, 21 August 2012

how to give a Lapphund a bath

Now that the Riemu puppies are 6 months old, their owners might find it useful to have a step-by-step guide to bathing a Lapphund.  I've conducted 1 or 2 Lapphund baths, but do let me know if I miss anything out.

If possible, put a nylon or other waterproof collar on your dog.  Or an old collar you don't mind getting soaked.  If your dog will stand in the bath without being held, take the collar off altogether.

As far as shampoo goes, I like Doreen Paige products.  I use one for Harsh Black Coats that enhances the depth and shine of dark coats without making them soft.  I also have Royal Jelly & Evening Primrose Oil Shampoo which is said to be "coat-encouraging".  Needless to say, I did not use this one on Taika.  There are also blue coloured shampoos designed to enhance white coats, and if you have a well-behaved dog who will happily stand in the tub, it's worth the small additional effort to use one of these on the white bits like paws, chest and bottom, for example.  
  • Collect at least 3 clean, dry dog towels.  Wear something you don't mind getting covered in dog water & hair.  Naked works well.
  • Close the bathroom door so your dog doesn't make a break for freedom before being towelled off - or, even worse, covered in soap.
  • Put 1 towel in the bathtub, spray with shower to dampen.
  • Lift dog carefully into bathtub with paws on wet towel.  Hold by collar until settled.  If necessary, be firm about the fact that he has to stay there.
  • Keep one hand in the collar to keep the dog from moving or trying to jump out.  Using the shower attachment, thoroughly wet the dog's belly and legs (I prefer doing it in sections).  Use your 3rd hand* to smoosh the water through the coat (that's a technical term).  i.e. massage the fur firmly using small circular movements to manipulate the water through the fur. 
  • Turn off water, pour shampoo into your hand, rub your hands together and massage into the dog's fur.  Be sure to cover every inch, especially right into the "armpits" and between toes.  This will allow you to discover any mats, seeds, ticks or other problems.
  • When the area has been thoroughly shampooed, turn on the shower, taking care to adjust the water temperature away from the dog. 
  • Rinse all the shampoo out of the fur, using the smoosh to "push" the shampoo out.  Then rinse it again.  When you're absolutely certain there is no shampoo left, rinse it one more time.
  • Repeat the wetting, shampooing and rinsing (don't forget smooshing) to the rear and tail area, then the body and back, then the neck and head. 
  • Do the head last because it is getting this area wet that makes it absolutely irresistible for dogs to shake the water out of their coat.  Up until getting their head wet, they are relatively comfortable.  
  • To wet and rinse the head, tip the dog's head gently back and be careful that no water gets into the ears by covering each one with your hand as you go.  
  • Turn off the water.  Cover the dog with a dry towel and give a good rub, especially the face and neck.
  • With dog still covered in towel, carefully lift him out of tub and stand him on another towel on the floor. 
  • Stand back because he will really need to shake now.
  • Towel dry as much as possible - don't forget the paws and tail.
  • Remove the collar (if you use one) until the fur is dry and brushed.

* You can see where a second person would be a big help in this adventure.  If you're on your own, be sufficiently firm with the dog and you should be able to withdraw your hand from the collar.  But keep a watchful eye for any body language that suggests he's about to try and escape.


Use lukewarm water - too warm would be very mean and, believe it or not, they don't seem to like it cold either.

Wet the head last and carefully protect the ears from water.

Smoosh the water into the coat - and the shampoo out of the coat.  It makes a big difference to how easy or difficult it is to penetrate through to the skin.  Shampoo can be very difficult to get out of the thick fur - this type of manipulation with your fingers really will help.

Rinse, rinse and rinse again.

Some of my Facebook friends have made excellent points that are worth adding here.
1.  Susan, mum of Tippi, uses an old rubber bath mat to stop the dogs slipping.  I have no such useful item, but it's a great idea.
2.  Mary suggested diluting the shampoo in a litre of water before applying to the dog.  I should have mentioned that my shampoo is also pre-diluted.  Most shampoos are unnecessarily thick and strong and can be safely diluted and still do a good job.  Other shampoos (like the Doreen Paige ones) actually have dilution instructions on the label.

Monday, 20 August 2012

the grooming of a reluctant Lapphund pt 1

I don't do smelly dogs.  One of the appealing features of Lapphunds for me has always been the lack of typical doggy smell about them.  Even when they're wet they are not particularly offensive.  So when one of the gang in my house gets a bit whiffy for any reason, off he or she (usually she) goes to the bathtub.

Granted, my dogs only get bathed about once a year because - and this is another of the very convenient Lappy features - they don't need frequent bathing.  In fact, I know some Lapphunds who have never had a bath in years of adulthood.  Grooming, yes, spot-baths, yes, but full-body baths, no.  And they are gorgeous paragons of immaculate perfection. 

When Taika hopped out of the car to greet me, I thought I detected a faint hint of fox about her.  And that meant that she was doomed for a bath.  It's very possible that she hadn't had one since she was last in my bathtub after her puppies were born a couple of years before.  I knew that my work was most definitely cut out for me. 

If ever there was an argument for NOT neutering your dogs, the change in coat texture is definitely a convincing one.  When Lapphunds are entire, their coats are thick and long, yes, but they are coarse and easy to manage.  And, if all else fails, almost all the coat falls out at least once a year, and usually twice, so you get to start over again regularly.

After neutering, Lapphund coats become heavier, longer and more woolly.  And they just don't moult in the same way or with the same regularity or thoroughness.  Some individuals are more prone to this than others, of course.  Neither Neka nor Maija were blessed with particularly luxuriant coats to begin with and so after spaying they remain relatively easy to maintain.  Taika, on the other hand, has the most extreme case I've seen yet of any of the neutered branch of the Infindigo family tree.  Her coat is bountiful in its abundance.  Or, in other words, there's way too much of it.

It's not overly long, really, although it definitely is rather long.  But it is unbelievably dense now.  The undercoat is so thick it's difficult to part it sufficiently to see her skin.  And the fur on her belly has the harsh, wiry texture of steel wool - incredibly difficult to brush.

This is Taika at about 2 years old, before puppies and spaying.  Even in those days she had the steel wool belly, though.

And this is how she looked on her way into the bath.  You can sort of see how long and thick the fur around her neck and shoulders has become. 

From the top you get a slightly better idea - under there is a relatively small dog.  Believe it or not.

This belly would have no problems keeping warm during a Finnish winter.

The Bath

I was assured that Taika absolutely hates being brushed.  As a friend of mine on Facebook said, not liking being groomed is not an option in this house.  But I can see how a dog as well behaved and easy to live with as Taika might get away with murder on some matters when she puts her mind to it.

Lapphund youngsters are all likely to put up a bit of a fight when it comes to being groomed.  It goes with pushing the boundaries and trying to command a little independence as they mature.  I always tell everyone that when it comes to battles of will over anything with their growing puppy, they must always win (the people, not the puppy, that is).  That is the way to ensure that your Lapphund grows up to enjoy being groomed - or at least to be willing to put up with it.

If Taika was going to be difficult to brush, then I was pretty sure she wasn't going to approve of going into the bathtub either.  But, you know what?  She wasn't that bad.  I am firm and matter of fact when it comes to complaining Lapphunds, and so, apart from a few dirty looks, she just let me get on with it once she realised I wasn't going to give up.

Standing on a towel to minimise paws slipping on the slick enamel.

I tend to wet, shampoo and rinse in sections, starting with the belly and legs, moving to the rear end & tail, body & back, then the neck.

I always do the head and face last because it is the wetting of the head that makes shaking absolutely irresistible for dogs.

Careful rinsing around the ears to make sure that no water gets in there.

A bit of towelling off before getting out to minimise the mess from shaking!

Careful climbing out as it's very slippery under the paws.

Downstairs again to dry off and do a bit of sulking.

It took 2 days for that coat to dry thoroughly for a good brushing.  The brushing was an event by itself, so deserves its own post.

Tomorrow - how to bathe a Lapphund - the unabridged step-by-step version.

Friday, 17 August 2012

house full

When Kate & Jerome asked us to look after either Taika or Minna while they went on holiday for 2 weeks, we didn't hesitate to agree.  Neither of those girls is any trouble at all, and so we ended up with both of them.  After all, if neither is any trouble, then it's almost as easy to have 2 as only 1 of them.  With 4 dogs already in the family, an extra one inevitably means an extra walk if on-lead walks are the order of the day.  And it's just as easy to walk 6 as 5.  So down to Devon they came for their holiday.

Everything would be fine & dandy - even easy! - just so long as it didn't rain.  6 dogs in a relatively small house is no problem as long as they're not wet & muddy.  That's when things get tricky, even with 4.  Or 3.

They arrived one evening and the weather forecast for the next day was heavy rain and gale force winds.  Of course.  So having woken up early to see that it had not yet started raining, we decided to get a jump on the exercise and get them all out for a run while we could.  We bundled the gang of 6 into the car and they were racing around the fields before 7am.

Luckily they all have excellent recall (well, they do before breakfast, anyway), as an unsuspecting small dog ventured into the field and all 6 Lappies went racing over to say hello.  It was quite overwhelming for the small one, and she got scared and ran away from them.  All the older Lappies just wanted to say hello and so they then left her alone, but Tuuli, fired up by pack mentality, thought the little one was fair game and decided to give chase.  After all, when she runs she expects to get chased - that is the game, as far as she's concerned.  And she's quite accustomed to meeting up with dogs in these fields for impromptu games of chase.  Luckily, though, she quickly gave up and followed the others back to me, leaving the newcomer in peace.

Tuuli flying back.  It's a shame this is just a phone pic and too far away for a good resolution.

What a good bunch of dogs.
L-R: Minna, Keskiyo, Taika, Neka, Maija, Tuuli

Minna, Tuuli, Maija, Taika

Taika, Keskiyo

Minna with her little shadow Tuuli

Everyone loves Minna - Keskiyo with his favorite girl.

Bunch of happy dogs on the way home and ready for breakfast.  Keskiyo is out of shot on the back seat.
L-R: Taika, Maija, Tuuli, Neka, Minna

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Mikko growing up

The last of the puppy updates falls to Mikko.  He is a boy who, right from the earliest days, looked so much like his mum - he's exactly the same colour and also with Keksi's sweet expression.  I dare say he will grow into a big brown bear of a boy too. 

You can tell my his knobby knees that he has a lot of growing to do yet - and filling out.

 Sweet boy with his well-worn bear (or whatever it was...)

 Loves tennis balls, like all Lappies.

In a few days the puppies will turn 6 months old and then a whole new world of experience starts for them and their owners.  For the girls, it's hormones, hormones, hormones with their impending first seasons and perhaps a bit of moodiness from time to time.  For the boys, it's... well, hormones too, as they start to realise what the opposite sex is all about.   There might be some humping.  Er, possibly a lot of humping.  I always recommend to everyone to treat youthful humping just like any other unwanted behaviour - nip it in the bud.  Firmly and quickly.

They all will settle into their adult height over the next couple of months, and they will slowly start to mature and fill out.  They will lose their puppy coats and grow a new one.  And in about a month from now, they will all start to find their feet and try out a little more independence.  Time for owners to be vigilant and strict with the training.  The formerly well-behaved puppies will morph into monsters for a few months, by comparison.  Deep breaths, lots of training, and maintain your nerve and they will all come out the other end.  Eventually.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Tiia growing up

Tiia and her big sister Marja are lucky enough to get lots of walks on Dartmoor.  Hopefully Tiia is following in Marja's pawprints and is growing into an obedient, well-behaved girl who doesn't bark at or otherwise harass the Dartmoor ponies.  Neka and Keskiyo were always quite respectful to the ponies when they went there, but Maija was a little less so.  I'm sure Tiia is picking up all Marja's good behaviour habits.  Hopefully.

Riemu Tiia age 4 months

A walk on Dartmoor

Some running

And some jumping

Getting the better of Marja in a game

Friday, 3 August 2012

Miia growing up

At this age the puppies who will be going into the show ring are learning their ringcraft and they are all finishing their first puppy training classes.  Here is Miia showing off her Down and her certificate.

Riemu Miila, age 4 months

Fun in the long grass.

Doing a bit of pruning in the garden.