One of the things I have to routinely do for Jack, my longcoated akita, is trim his feet. The bottoms get very hairy and if left unchecked he slips around my hardwood floors. The extra fur also brings in tons of extra mud during our lovely mud season here in Maine. We have enough coming in already thank you very much. :-)
Here is a before shot of one front paw:
And the after:
Before of the other paw:
Before of both back paws:
And the after:
I carefully use sissors to trim the fur away as close as possible making sure not to cut into the pads at all. In summer I also cut the fur from inside the paw to help keep them cooler. (be very careful not to poke them with the sissors) I find Jacks back paws to be much more ticklish than his front. Sometimes I put him up on my picnic table for the trims or other times I just plunk down next to him during a nap session. He usually sleeps right through it. He is very used to all the handling. We do it often so he knows what is coming. After I trim the fur away I trim his toenails. (I trim the fur first so I can better see the nails.)
After we do the feet we do a big brushing session. For this I almost always use the table. To keep it from being drudgery for Jack I let him have free times frequently during the session to run around and burn off steam. I use a simple undercoat rake that works very well to remove all the loose undercoat.
Then I bag the hair to toss so it isn't flying around my yard. In spring I will put some fluff out in the brush for the birds to use in their nests. Sometimes I keep some fur to spin into yarn. (dogfur makes wonderfully warm and georgous yarns - check out www.vipfibers.com FMI if you are interested in your dogs fur as yarn)
He is currently shedding ALOT right now so I tossed this brushing. (there will be more later for the birds, no worries) Then after our grooming session we went for a walk.
I always take my dogs for walks on the main roads around here to avoid the potential for running into loose dogs. On Main St. most dogs are on leash and usually under control because of the heavy traffic. When walking an akita, if anything bad happens, (regardless of whos fault it is or who started it) the akita always gets the blame. (this holds true for any of the so called bad breeds or for whichever dog is bigger) Walking on main street is one way I can avoid real problems. We also walk and don't stop to "meet" or "say hello" to other dogs. I only let my dogs play with other dogs I know well and only after proper introductions to also help avoid problems. It is a system that has worked very well for us in the past. We do group off leash walks on occasion with a core group of people and their dogs that are alot of fun. (It is easier for them to play appropriately off leash)
I usually have him wear a gentle leader head collar in public to have that extra control. Being a trainer myself I get some raised eyebrows on this one. Here is why I do this. You would not believe how many people think it is ok to get right in his face to say hello. (Oh he's so CUTE!) This way I can simply pull him away from them if needed. (Helpful tip - direct eye contact in dog language can be a threat or challenge so don't stick your face in a strange dogs face EVER! Think first, you are a stranger to them. ) Jack is a very friendly akita but I just don't want him to ever feel threatened and decide he needs to defend himself. Why take chances if you don't need to? It's easier for me to have control over him than the many strangers I run into. Besides knowing I have that extra control mentally allows me to relax and have fun on our walks. He walks fine on a regular collar and he wears one to obedience classes around other dogs regularly. Besides, he is a big dog and extra control in public is always a good thing to help make other people feel comfortable around him too.
While on our walk I noticed he seemed to be lagging abit. He also looked kinda big to me. I took him into the vets to use their scale. Yup! He has fallen victim to the "winter weight" syndrome. (just like me!) He needs to trim off about 6 lbs. Then I'll re-weigh him and we'll go from there. I am usually much more on top of the dogs weight. It is one of my pet peeves, fat dogs. It is SO bad for their whole system. So we are now both on a new exercise program.
Wish us luck!