Crates: I've got an assortment of plastic and metal crates, and some are better than others for the way we travel and live with our dogs. Make sure that whichever crate you choose is substantial. I usually start puppies in a small VariKennel, but prefer a wire crate for most uses. A female adult Barbet fit well in a 30" or 36" crate. At the beginning, you will want to use a small crate so that your puppy won't use half of it for a bathroom. I like a heavy weight wire crate when it's warm, and I also use Ruffland plastic crates and East Coast aluminum crates for the shows.
Grooming: When you first get your Barbet puppy, you will brush the coat, trim the nails, admire your pup, and wonder what all the grooming fuss was about. This isn't so hard! Then one day you will put your hands on your pup and discover that your wonderful pup is starting to matt. Now what? Usually the transition from puppy coat to adult coat is the most effort that you will have to put into grooming your Barbet. After the adult coat is fully grown in, you will find a routine that works for the particular coat that your dog has. Whether the dog can go from 4 days between comb-outs or can stretch to 10 days with an easier care coat, I use a range of combs, brushes, and tools that are listed below. You can often pick these items up at a local AKC dog show for less than ordering online. Cherrybrook, Groomers Mall and PetEdge usually have a good supply, and Amazon often carries the same items. In my experience, the tools at PetSmart and Petco aren't great. You'll want to buy good quality, strong combs and brushes because you will use them a lot. You probably won't need all of these things; I'm only sharing what I use and have had success with and no, I don't need it all every day!
I always start with a quick spritz of water with just a bit of conditioner mixed in to moisten the coat before brushing. A dry coat is prone to breakage. You can also purchase sprays that make brushing easier.
The first brush I reach for is a wooden pin brush. This loosely bristled brush is excellent for loosening the small knots and tangles and preparing the coat for finer grooming. It is also a comfortable first brush for teaching your puppy to sit or stand patiently while being brushed.
The next brush I use is a stiff pin brush, specifically the Bass A12. This brush will pull out the undercoat that collects next to the skin and cause matting. Frequent use of this brush will prevent mats from forming tight and close to the skin. Pay special attention to the elbow and flank areas, behind the ears, and the moustache and beard. This is the brush I use most often.
For combing through the hair in better detail than a brush will give, you will need several kinds of combs. The Poodle comb is a wide-toothed comb with strong metal teeth that should be your first tool for a comb-out. The #1 All Systems is also a good Poodle comb for a little less money (this is the comb that they call the Fabulous Dematting Comb).
The final step for combing through the entire coat is a good bi-comb, with two different tooth gauges.
Another tool I frequently use to ensure that the coat is clear to the skin is a V-rake. These are also good for picking apart matts without damaging the coat.
You will need to pull the hair from the ears a few times a year. You can see a video here demonstrating how to gently remove the hair from the ear.
After the dog is all combed out, it's time for a bath. My #1 favorite grooming tool is my Bathing Beauty, a sump pump washing system that distributes soapy water via a hydrotherapy message throughout the deep coat of the Barbet. Expensive, yes, but for me it not only saves time, it does a much better job washing and conditioning than I can without it. If the dog is exceptionally dirty, you can even start with the Bathing Beauty, and then comb the dog, because the washer won't add extra tangles to the hair like my fingers would.
For Shampoo and Conditioner, I most frequently use PurePaws, Chris Christensen, and #1 All Systems. I particularly like the PurePaws Reconstructing line. Using a product line that is particularly formulated for dogs will make your dog's hair look and feel better and will be easier for you to use and rinse.
When I want to dry the hair, I use a Kool Dry high velocity dryer.
For trimming the hair, a comfortable set of shears from Chris Christensen in both curved and straight allow me to keep the hair at the proper length.
Thinning shears are great for cutting out any matts on the tummy or behind the ears. Instead of trimming straight through the knot, cut in the same direction that the hair grows for less disturbance of the coat.
I also like this little series from Wildrose Retrievers on Puppy Starting. In particular, this instruction on tie-out training is essential for teaching your dog to lead without pulling.
Here is a great article entitled Establishing Yourself As Pack Leader, that I recommend all Barbet puppy families read and follow.
Whether you have just adopted a young pup or an adult dog, you have many things to teach your new companion. You want your dog to be loved, trained and lively, but not spoiled, a robot or uncontrollable. Dogs can be naturals at learning manners and commands, particularly when you understand a key aspect of their nature. Dogs are social, pack-oriented animals. Your dog will respect a strong, clear, fair leader. If you fail to establish this position for yourself, your dog will feel obliged to try to take the position of leader for himself...more
Books: You may want to read some puppy training books before your puppy comes home. It is usually very helpful to review advice for raising a puppy ahead of time. My recommendations are:
Training the Best Dog Ever
Culture Clash by Jean Donaldson
By far the most common problem I see people having with their pet Barbet is poor leash manners. It is definitely up to you, the kind yet assertive owner, to maintain the leadership position and not let your dog drag you all over town. Prong collars, harnesses, and halters, often suggested by trainers, are just gimmicks that may or may not help and are not addressing the problem of the dog making decisions that should be the responsibility of the owner. A flat collar and lead are all that is necessary. From the very beginning, teach the dog to walk nicely with you on light pressure from the lead. As soon as you allow pulling and straining at the collar, you tell the puppy that this is acceptable behavior. Don't ever write off poor leash manners to a young age. All puppies can learn and should learn to walk nicely and sit patiently. Don't let the dog make the decisions! Teaching a good sit/stay is also very helpful for the dog to patiently wait while you speak to people or watch a baseball game.