How grooming and shaping your Doodle yourself helps to improve the relationship with your Doodle


Just like clothes make the man, the coat makes the dog.
And in the case of Doodles that is saying a lot, as every owner who’s ever seen his dog after it decided to go for a swim is well aware.

The natural purpose of a dog’s coat is to protect its skin and organs, and thick long coats are generally intended to prevent hypothermia and therefore serve a practical purpose, even though there is nothing wrong with it from an aesthetic point of view either.

In these times and this society, having a thick, long coat is not always very practical, especially when it’s been bred for beauty rather than functionality. And when that coat is not just thick and long but has other structures added to the mix as well, the dog’s owner can become quite literally ‘entangled’.   

Thick, long hair works like a veritable magnet on dust, twigs, leaves, sand and other objectionable manifestations of mother nature. On top of which it takes longer to dry than short thin hair. It’s nearly impossible to pass a regular dog brush through a coat made up of really thick, really long hair, which brings us to my next point.

Thick, long hair automatically implies tangles and matted hair, as thick hair is invariably soft, and soft hair is porous and tangles easily. This is why thick hair will always tangle due to pressure, friction, movement and moisture; unless, of course, you know how to prevent this from happening. Long hair has a tendency to break and so becomes porous and liable to tangle, so a thick, long coat is logically the most difficult coat to care for. 

As the owner of a Doodle blessed with a thick coat, you bear a huge responsibility (because twice yearly visits to the grooming salon just won’t be enough with these coats). However, on the positive side, this provides you with a great opportunity to create a strong bond with your Doodle, based on leadership and mutual trust.  

labradoodle grooming  labradoodle grooming

If you’re a regular patron of a dog grooming salon, you probably won’t stop to think that grooming a dog is a matter of profound trust.

Just look at things from your dog’s perspective. Say, you’re four months old and have never been brushed. Or maybe you have, but only gently, by your owner. One day, you’re suddenly being taken away and then left to your own devices in a strange environment full of new stimuli and maybe some loud dogs and scary equipment that make you feel insecure and nervous. Your owner, the only known quantity in your life, leaves and you’re being picked up by a strange man or woman who call themselves a dog groomer and secure you on a high table and start groping your coat.


Your legs are lifted up, your head is being held, your ears get tugged at; you feel like you’re being turned inside out and there’s nothing you can do about it. Intimidated by so many unfamiliar intrusions, you keep as quiet as you possibly can, praying that you’ll be put safely back on the ground real soon.    

This is what a first experience at a grooming salon will look like for most any Doodle. And the older a pup is, the more of a fight it’ll put up, because the world as it knows it will for the most part have taken on definite form, just like its character. It’s a huge challenge in terms of stamina, self-discipline and submission, and no matter what character traits your Doodle may have been born with, they’ll definitely show on the grooming table.

If your pup is strong-willed, it’ll resist the physical interference by refusing to stand still, biting the headband, growling, biting the brush and maybe even aggressive behavior toward the groomer. A seasoned groomer will not be intimidated and continue with what they intended to do: grooming. And if the groomer remains calm and does not pay too much attention to the dog on the table, and express through their body language that they know what they’re doing and can be trusted for the full 100 percent, but that certain behavior is unacceptable and does not merit paying attention to, 90 percent of the new ‘pupils’ will eventually give up and adopt a submissive, wait-and-see kind of posture.

With some dogs it takes a little more time to arrive at the submissive phase, but a dog groomer with a friendly and patient, but strict attitude can accomplish much, if not everything.

Most owners haven’t got a clue as to how many educational techniques form part of the whole dog grooming process, but believe me when I say that dog grooming involves so much more than just grooming and that a strong bond between dog and owner starts on the grooming table.

Many first-time dog owners, or people who never owned a high-maintenance dog like a Labradoodle are taken by surprise by that first reaction of their pup. The younger a pup is, the faster it will learn and accept new things, but when an owner is initially reluctant to set boundaries because they don’t want to hurt their pup’s feelings, cause it pain or is afraid the pup will no longer want to be their buddy, they allow the pup to determine how it is to be treated.

It is fairly common for pups who are unaccustomed to being groomed or brushed to resist through growling or biting. When an owner allows himself to be intimidated by this kind of behavior and stops brushing or grooming it, the pup will regard this as acceptance of its behavior and take it a step further. This way, even the gentlest pup can eventually become aggressive.

However, if the owner sees this as an opportunity to train his pup, the first steps will have been taken on the road to a strong owner-dog relationship. Each and every interaction with your dog is really about both parties understanding what the other party wants, about trusting each other and treating the other with respect, calmly and patiently, without forcing anything. If you, the owner, take on the role of a leader or parent and reward your Doodle for good behavior instead of adopting a submissive, wait-and-see attitude toward your Doodle which would allow it to take on the leadership role, your pup will grow into a stable, self-assured dog. A quiet dog that responds well to commands, knows its boundaries and trusts you to the extent that it unquestioningly does what you tell it to, and both of you always know where you stand. Building on this kind of behavior allows you to create a really strong bond with your Doodle, based on teamwork and mutual trust.

So why leave the education of your Doodle to the groomer when you can give an added dimension to your relationship with your Doodle by taking up basic grooming, or even the full trimming process.

It would allow you to learn even more from each other, enjoy each other’s company even more, and you won’t feel like a real ‘parent' until you take responsibility for your canine ‘child’ into your own hands, right?

Do you want to take ownership of the wellbeing of your Doodle? 

Start by downloading my FREE ebook:

Or go to my online Doodle self grooming programs to start grooming: Labradoodle self grooming programs

Happy grooming!

Lots of Doodle love,

Wanda & Joy

Labradoodle grooming specialist