By Deborah Walker
Braiding is a new and exciting way of adding creativity to your grooming. Adding this technique to your extra service will set you apart from the competition. Any dog that has at least a 4 inch coat can have braiding done as an enhancement to their finished look. Braiding is the next up and coming phenomenon that is crossing the grooming nation; from one braid to braiding the whole dog. So get on the braid wagon and let’s get started.
To start braiding, you must condition the hair properly. To accomplish your goals the coat must not be too oily or too dry. Some coats may require medium to heavy conditioner to help weigh the coat down. Gel or mousse can be used to help control the direction in which you are setting the coat, or you can braid the hair when wet.
The coat should be at least 4 inches or longer to braid; the longer the hair, the easier it is to braid. Braiding coat can help with hair growth and protect the hair shafts from breakage. But keep in mind, the animal has moving parts so don’t set the braids too tight to the skin that they would restrict the dogs movement. When the dog gets off of your table and the braids are too tight, it may cause the dog to scratch the braids out. Don’t make them too loose because the braids may not hold.
There is single braiding and French braiding, as well as bead stacking. These different types of braiding can enhance beauty and help protect the coat from matting and breakage as the hair grows. Beading and bows are also a fun way to add style and color to your dog.
Once the coat is properly prepared, comb the hair straight. Then begin dividing the hair into 3 parts. Hold the parts in both hands, the thumbs hold the center part. Start with the left section of hair and over lay the hair across the center section. The left section becomes the center part and the center part becomes the left section of the braid.
Next, take the right section and lay it over the center part, making the right section the center and making the center the right section. Repeat this over and over until you get the length of braid you desire. Tie it off with a small rubber band, a baby hair clip, or a bead at the end.
Adding beads is a snap. All you need is a crochet hook and different color beads. The opening of the bead must be large enough to get a crochet hook and hair though the hole of the bead. Place the bead on the crochet hook, wrap the hairs around the crochet hook then pull the hair through the hole in the bead. If you miss some hair, don’t panic, just place the crochet hook back through the hole and gather the rest of the hair.
Push the bead in place and move to your next step. You can place as many beads as you wish or braid between beads. Allow enough hair at the end to rethread or tie off with a rubber band or clips.
To tie the bead back into the coat without using rubber bands, you take the section of hair that is hanging down below the bead and bring it back up to top of the bead, then wrap it around the crochet hook and pull it through the bead again.
For French braiding you start out the same way as the single braid; comb and divide the hair into 3 parts. Hold the parts in both hands, the thumbs hold the center part. Start with the left section of hair and over lay the hair across the center part.
The left section becomes the center part and the center part becomes the left section of the braid. Next, take the right section and lay it over the center part, making the right section the center and making the center the right section. At this point you have completed the first cycle of braiding.
Continue braiding until you are ready to start adding hair to the braid. We recommend braiding a few times and then start adding hair.
Starting with the left section, lay it over the center part, then with your little finger pick up a few hairs and then place those few hairs over the center also. The center now has become the left section and the left section has become the center.
At this point, take the right section and lay it over the center. Using your little finger, grab a few more hairs and place it over the center with the other hairs. Repeat these steps as you go down the direction you want the braid to go.
French braiding looks good going down the back of the dog, starting from the head to tail. You can split the braid from the rump and travel the braids down both back legs as well.
A bead stack can be used for the topknot to protect breakage of coat and is nice to look at. To start, divide the topknot into 3 sections. Next, place a bead in each section, then gather all three sections into one and add another bead. You do not need to braid the hair to get the same affect. You may also choose to split the hair into more sections depending on the length of hair you have to work with.
Practice makes perfect. Practice on stuffed animals until you get the hang of it. Dogs are moving objects so if you get the technique down then it’s easier to work with them. Adding bows and other types of creative items is left up to the imagination of the stylist. Creative braiding can go anywhere…the head, shoulders, hips, neck, back and even ears and tail. Good luck, HAPPY CREATING!!