Grooming Cocker Legs & Paws

KLADCkrs

Well-Known Member
Owned by
3 cockers
Grooming Cocker Legs & Paws

Always start with a freshly bathed and blowdried dog. It is VERY important that the dog is completely dry, and that the hair is as straight as possible. If you try to trim a dog that has air-dried, the coat is wavy and you will never get a nice, even trim. So even if it takes several hours, make sure that you bath the dog (shampoo and conditioner) and then blow the dog dry. The best way to ensure that the dog is completely dry, it's best to teach the dog to lie on its side for blowdrying. Then you can line dry the dog, which means starting closest to the tummy, and then dry bit by bit, working towards the dog's spine, until all of the coat is dry. When working on a leg, hold the leg up, and work from the armpit out towards the paws. It is very important that all knots and tangles are taken out.

For blowdrying a dog I use a pin brush to straighten the coat. A slicker brush tends to pull out a lot of coat, so I only use them on the topknot, the ears, and sometimes the foot itself. Otherwise I stick to a nice pin brush (I buy Vellus, but lots of people prefer Chris Christensen).

Once the dog is completely dry, stand the dog up and run a comb through the coat, thoroughly checking for mats and tangles. You need to have NO tangles.

I usually start with the back feet, but it really doesn't matter. With the dog standing on the table (use two nooses if your dog likes to sit a lot while you're grooming - just get a second grooming arm and put the second noose around the dog's abdomen), trim a box around the dog's foot. Make 4 cuts - front, back and both sides of the foot. Don't trim too close to the toe nails, otherwise they will end up showing, and you don't want that. Once you have "boxed" the foot, trim the corners of the box until you have a rounded foot. Usually the "circle" should be about 1/2" or so away from the ACTUAL foot itself, if you know what I mean. If you were to draw a circle of the dog's foot on white paper, and then a circle of what you have trimmed, there should be about 1/2" difference between the two. Then, using the comb, fluff up the leg coat until it's sticking out as much as possible. Holding the shears parallel with the leg (up and down), make a straight cut "along" the foot. This is the scary part, so you make not want to take a lot off to begin with, just do it in stages.

Gradually, you will trim a column around the dog's leg. In order to trim the hair behind the leg, I bring the leg straight forward (hold it straight towards yourself) and trim a straight line "under" the leg as the hair hangs. Trim up nice and close in the armpits, because nobody is going to see it (I usually use the clippers there).

Keep coming the hair up to fluff it and make it stand out, and then trim. Always hold the shears parallel with the leg, up and down. Holding the shears that way, you get the least amount of scissor marks on the hair. As you get better, you will spend more time fluffing and trimming tiny hairs away, until your column looks nice and even. Keep in mind that this works best on Cockers with fluffy coat. Cockers with nice, correct coat are a bit harder to trim this way, because you can see each scissor mark more clearly. This is just a fact of life, and as you get better at this technique, you will notice the lines less and less.

I tried using clippers with a comb over the blade, but I could never make it look nice. So I always use scissors on the legs. For trimming the legs I use 7" straight shank shears - you can get Dubl Duck scissors for a good price. You don't need to spend a fortune, but do spend around $40 to get a decent pair. I always trim from above - so I stand over the side of the dog and cut with the scissors pointing towards the ground.

If you are getting choppy scissor marks, you are probably taking too much hair at once. I can take quite a bit of hair now, but when I was first starting I made small cuts. It's a lot harder to completely screw up a trim when you're using small cuts. And when you've done the bulk of the work and are just tidying up the cut, use extra small snips, and just take your time. I do LOTS of fluffing of the coat before cutting. Trying to cut hair that's hanging down is next to impossible. That's why if you can teach the dog to lay down for blowdrying, it really helps. That adds volume to the coat (drying it from underneath, essentially), and makes it a bit easier to trim.
 

manuel

Administrator
Staff member
Owned by
1 cocker
Thanks for your grooming instructions. One thing I didn't see mentioned are the pads. Trimming Gabby's pads is the most difficult part of his grooming. Unfortunately, our yard has pine trees and the sap sticks to hair between his pads. If you look at the picture it's the area in the black boxes. It sort of forms an upside down "V" shape. That area is ALL MATTED on Gabby. Plus, it's hardened from the pine sap. Gabby absolutely hates me digging in there with scissors. I usually lay the blades in each side of the "V" and trim. Do you have any suggestions for trimming this area or dealing with the tree sap?
 

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KLADCkrs

Well-Known Member
Owned by
3 cockers
Not sure about tree sap, but you can use your clippers to clean out the hair between the pads if scissors aren't working for you. Now, some dogs are VERY ticklish in that area, so they will try to pull their feet away. I find if I trim from behind, or from an angle that the dogs can't see, it's a bit easier.
 

Clinton Oaks

Senior Member
Owned by
5 cockers
Thanks for your grooming instructions. One thing I didn't see mentioned are the pads. Trimming Gabby's pads is the most difficult part of his grooming. Unfortunately, our yard has pine trees and the sap sticks to hair between his pads. If you look at the picture it's the area in the black boxes. It sort of forms an upside down "V" shape. That area is ALL MATTED on Gabby. Plus, it's hardened from the pine sap. Gabby absolutely hates me digging in there with scissors. I usually lay the blades in each side of the "V" and trim. Do you have any suggestions for trimming this area or dealing with the tree sap?

The best blade to use in that area with matts and sap is a 40 blade...the same blade that they use to shave a surgical area. If you are having a hard time or dont have a 40, come on by the kennel I will do it for you. You can hold Gabby and I will shave his pads.
 

Polly

Super Moderator
Staff member
Owned by
1 cocker
Kelly!
Great, great instructions. I can never use those clipper combes either, I still do legs with scissors, they don't always look perfect, but, I'm not perfect either.:naughty:
 

manuel

Administrator
Staff member
Owned by
1 cocker
Thanks for the advice both of you. I'll take you up on your offer later this month when I get my work schedule. :)
 

DJ's Three

Well-Known Member
Owned by
1 cocker
Gina,

Thank you for all the grooming instructions, especially the pads of the feet. I hate to do them and years ago my Booker had a very bad injury to her pad, it was almost cut off by a young groomer who did not know to use clippers. The worst part was they tryed to take care of it themselves without notifying me. By the time they brought her out to me it was almost too late to get her to the vet to save the pad. It bled so badly. Stitches and a hard bandaging and lots of prayers got her through. I had to fight with the groomer to pay my vet bill. I am very careful with sissors. When I was first learning to groom a friend was showing me how to do ears and I accidentaly snipped (a very small snip) on one of Phreddie's ear. Oh man I cryed longer than the dog and vowed never to use sissors again.

but thanks again for the great instructions.
 

Polly

Super Moderator
Staff member
Owned by
1 cocker
Oh DJ
I can sure sympathize with you. I have clipped an ear before, and also a nail that caused it to bleed. That's why I'm so afraid to do nails. Now I'm tipping them because I think paying $25 per dog is too much for nails.
 

smh

Member
Owned by
2 cockers
I must confess, I "tried" to clip both Noodles and Stars feet yesterday..I have to tell you I suck at this and they both have dorky looking little poodle feet..very sad situation. But the good news is it is only hair, it will grow back and I can try again. ;)
 

Clinton Oaks

Senior Member
Owned by
5 cockers
:)
I must confess, I "tried" to clip both Noodles and Stars feet yesterday..I have to tell you I suck at this and they both have dorky looking little poodle feet..very sad situation. But the good news is it is only hair, it will grow back and I can try again. ;)

Here is a trick, pick up the foot, brush all the hair toward the bottom of the foot, trim around the foot from the bottom. Brush all the hair up and "picture" in your head a tube...like a paper towel tube and hold your scissors straight up and down...not at an angle out or in...and scissor the legs UP...recite those instructions for the next 6 weeks and try again:)
 

smh

Member
Owned by
2 cockers
:)

Here is a trick, pick up the foot, brush all the hair toward the bottom of the foot, trim around the foot from the bottom. Brush all the hair up and "picture" in your head a tube...like a paper towel tube and hold your scissors straight up and down...not at an angle out or in...and scissor the legs UP...recite those instructions for the next 6 weeks and try again:)
I was actually wondering about using a cut down split empty wrapping paper cone to put around one of my babies legs just to help get me started off on the right foot (sorry couldn't resist that one:)) and yes I will keep trying to master my little "foo-paw" (gosh I am full of it tonight) till I get it figured out and will post a picture of my progress, once my little blunder grows out and I can give this another try. thank you!
 
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