Having a service dog is a real working relationship. The dog works to assist you or your loved one cope with and adjust to a disability, and in return, you work to provide care for your animal. That responsibility is more than just taking the time to complete service dog registration for training support or other needs. You can also expect to feed, house, train, and even groom your dog. Grooming is actually one of the more enjoyable ways you and your service dog can bond and be connected, especially when your dog takes a break. Here are some reasons why and how you should commit to keeping your service dog well-groomed on a regular basis.

A Clean Uniform

While on duty, your service dog will spend time in public areas, both in outside settings and in indoor spaces. Keep its coat well-groomed and regularly trimmed to present your dog with its best paw forward. Not everyone is aware of how important service dogs can be to people who need them, and by having a clean dog, you have the opportunity to promote the use of service dogs in a positive way.

Another thing to keep in mind is that not everyone is going to be comfortable with your service dog. Perhaps some people may be allergic to dogs, or maybe they are fearful of certain breeds. When you keep your dog groomed, you are helping to reduce the dander and fur that may be scattered in public spaces. A well-kept and well-trained service dog instills confidence in people who may normally be wary of animals in unfamiliar settings.

Some people may choose to record their canine assistant with the United States Service Dog Registry, an organization that promotes the professionalism and responsibility of these working animals. They may provide a patch or vest for your dog to wear in public, which, along with a clean coat, can demonstrate that these canines are not pets but rather important assistive devices for the disabled. Other people may opt for a body suit for their service dogs to keep them protected from germs and elements as well as reducing the amount of shedding when outside the home.

Grooming Basics

Caring for your service dog’s physical needs can involve a daily head-to-toe grooming session. Regular brushing is just the beginning. You may also need to control undercoat shedding, depending on the breed of your service dog and the time of year. Brush your dog’s teeth daily as well for less doggy breath and better oral health. A toothpaste specifically for canines is a must; human toothpaste with fluoride can be dangerous for all dogs. Check the dog’s ears for any smelly or dark discharge that could indicate the presence of ear mites or an infection. If your dog is prone to tear staining, you may want to look for products that can help keep your dog’s eyes healthy and face clean. Other steps to include in the grooming process are:

• Keep nails trimmed, taking precautions to avoid the nail blood vessel

• Feel around your dog’s skin for any hot spots or lumps that may indicate a sore or infection

• Bathe your dog regularly to reduce odor and dirt

• Schedule regular coat trimming for a tidier appearance

Prim and Proper

When you or your loved one takes the time to keep up your service dog’s appearance, you are providing care and nurturing to an animal that does so much in return. You may ask for additional suggestions for grooming or other upkeep when you complete your service dog registration, if you choose to do so. Allowing for rest, physical activity, play time, and grooming can keep service dogs happy and healthy as they work to protect and assist their human partners.