Elsa and I spent a day learning how to style her fur like a professional!
As far as grooming Elsa is concerned, we have an everyday routine at home that involves brushing and removing any tangles as well as an occasional bath and dry her to keep her coat in good condition.
Lhasa Apsos have a natural 'drop coat' which has a long, flowing outer layer covering a dense, fluffy undercoat. When it comes to the length of Elsa's fur we like to keep it long but manageable, which means that she needs regular trips to a professional groomer in order to maintain a practical length.
I've often wondered how her groomer transforms the scruffy little tramp that arrive with into a beautiful lady who looks and smells gorgeous...There have also been a few occasions where I've attempted to trim parts of her fur myself, usually with disastrous results!
I knew there must be a certain technique to trimming her coat, but I also realised that I'd need professional guidance to learn the correct way to do it so I booked us in for the 'Groom Your Own Dog Day' course with Four Paws Groom School.
The course was booked several weeks in advance so that Elsa's fur would have plenty of time to grow...and grow it did!
As you can see from the picture here, her coat was well on it's way to the ground!
Believe it or not, it's not much harder to keep her coat tangle-free when it's this length because the part that gets matted is her undercoat, particularly between her legs and behind her ears or where her collar/ harness rub when she walks. Regular brushing helps to keep on top of these mats.
We are often asked when we will be having her 'shaved'! Many people mistakenly think that you need to clip a Lhasa's fur short to keep them cool in the summer, some just don't like long fur! Whatever their opinions are, we love letting her hair grow and I don't think we'd ever cut it really short...
The biggest problem that we have is keeping her dry and clean. Her fur is very absorbent; you can actually ring her feet out when she comes in after a walk in the rain! We would normally take her to a groomer every 6-8 weeks.
Four Paws Groom School is based in Northwich, Cheshire and it took us about an hour to get there. The course began at 10am and we couldn't wait to get started! My tutor for the day was called Sian and she showed us into the classroom and explained what equipment we'd be working with throughout the day.
The first thing that we did was give Elsa a very thorough brush to remove any mats and any loose undercoat. Then we cut Elsa's nails...or at least we tried. She really, really hates having her nails done!
When that was over we moved onto bathing and drying, much to her relief! Even though I do this with her at home, I feel like I learned how to brush and dry her more 'efficiently'.
We had a lunch break so that Elsa could stretch her legs and have a rest before we moved onto styling her coat.
Sian guided me through the whole process first starting with trimming Elsa's feet and legs, moving on to the body and finishing with her face. Soon I was handed the scissors and anxiously started trimming... It's not as easy as it looks!
When we finally finished I was both relieved and exited.
I have been wanting to do this course for so long and it was definitely worth it because it taught me everything I needed to know about grooming Elsa from head to toe!
It was harder than I expected and I have so much respect for the groomers that do this day in, day out; it's a very physically demanding job.
I will need to practice... a lot! So, if you see Elsa looking a little dishevelled over the coming months, please have pity on me!
We already have a few grooming tools at home but after using the professional equipment at the groom school I decided to treat Elsa to a blast dryer! We also got some nail clippers and a new, fine tooth comb for making sure that her fur is completely free of any mats. We've found that a Tangle Teezer works just a well as a slicker to brush out her undercoat, and is much gentler on her skin. This one is designed for thick and curly (human) hair so the bristles are longer and firmer, perfect for grooming Lhasa Apsos! I wonder if Shaun P realises that he's missing out on a whole market segment?
Along with professional full time grooming courses, Four Paws also offers a range of services to dog owners including Doggie Daycare, a regular grooming Salon (special discounts are offered if you would like your dog to be used as a model for the grooming students) and there are spacious boarding kennels on site too. We had a quick look around before we left and were delighted to see so many lovely dogs relaxing and enjoying their time there.
The whole facility is laid out very well with areas for dogs to spend time both outside and under cover during the day - they even have sofas to sleep on if they want to! If your dog stays in the kennels they also have the option of joining the dogs in daycare for a small, additional fee.
One of our biggest worries about leaving Elsa somewhere is that she won't be groomed properly while we are away and we'll come back to a huge, matted mess but we definitely wouldn't have to worry about that at Four Paws!