Tips about Handstripping
(some from a dog's perspective)
- Time the handstripping phases backward, according to the dog shows scheduled. It takes about 4-6 weeks for the longest areas (back and saddle), and 2-4 weeks for the shortest areas (head, face, neck, butt). Therefore, begin the strip about 4-6 before the dog show for optimum length required. For those of us, who are just pets, we don't need to be stripped in phases.
- When starting out, pluck out only a few hairs with one stroke and work up from there. Don't try to pull too much at one go, cos it will make us hurt.
- Make it a pleasant experience for us doggies, use tonnes of treats frequently when we cooperate.
- Don't coo and baby us, we don't need to make handstripping an emotional experience.
- Use the coarse stripping knife on the back and other areas where the hair is long, and use the finer knives on coat which is tight on skin, such as the head and face. My mum uses a combination of both coarse and fine on the same areas, coarse on the longer outer coat, and then fine on the shorter undercoat.
- Leave us as dirty as possible before handstripping, and only give us a shower at the end of it all.
- Start handstripping us at around 4 months of age, and get us used to the grooming table, and tools as early as possible. First time I saw a clipper, I was only 10 weeks old, and I've been brushed since I was 8 weeks old. I've had nail cutting done since I was 8 weeks old, and grooming is a regular routine for me, so I really don't make a fuss. My mum enjoys grooming me and I feed off her energy as it being our personal 'bonding' time, where she gives me 100% attention and focus. I have learned to enjoy it tremedously.
- Make the grooming table a fun place to be at, and not only for grooming. Let us get on it for no reason and give us a treat, so we associate the grooming table to something positive.
- Have lots of breaks in between handstripping sections.
- Do the sections systematically, and not jumping all over the place.
- Using the left hand, pull the area's skin taut (in the opposite direction), so that plucking will be easier, and less painful for the dog. (Imagine eye brow shaping, my mum pulls the eye brow area taut to access the easier plucking of her eyebrows)
- Card the area before handstripping it, it will save a bit of time.
- A human who constantly handstrips Airedales for shows would gain more experience and speed, and may develop calluses and tough skin on the hand, so it would hurt less with time. For my mum, she gets those blisters because she only strips me 3-4 times a year, not enough to get tough skin.
- It is a very good idea to wear out the dog by various activities before handstripping. (Can be previous day or on actual day prior to handstripping) These activities can include an hour long walk, running many miles, biking with the dog, agillity training. Anything that would wear out doggie before handstripping.
The Airedale Terrier is known as being one of the most difficult to groom breeds for the show ring, handstripping is painful (for the human), expensive (for pros to do it for you) and time consuming. Most pet Airedales are clipped (shaved) to save time and money, it is also quick and the pet doesn't need to sit through hours and hours of grooming.
Go to this website for clear step-by-step explanations on how to 'Handstrip an Airedale'. The model used is the wire fox terrier, but it is good enough to use for an Airedale. It also has picture charts of the phases and good explanations. Also contains "what not to do".
and Kimi's mum (Sheila)