I tend to be very gentle when I brush my dog, but I've seen some people, even experts, use more firm, vigorous strokes. Which method is better?
From the Editors of The Dog Daily
If you have a large, long-haired breed, such as a sheepdog or a Lhasa Apso, brushing and combing sessions can provide you a workout. Many dogs, like cocker spaniels, also have very thick fur. If the fur is full of tangles, some effort will be required to remove them. You should, however, avoid brushing hard against your dog's skin. Some owners do this to the point that medical attention is required for their pets. The problem is known as "dog brush burn."
You could try using a spray-on coat conditioner before the grooming session. Such conditioners are somewhat comparable to de-tanglers for children. They contain oils to help separate individual fur strands. Take care when brushing and combing your dog's stomach area, at or around the head and along the inside of your dog's legs. These places are tender and require a gentler touch.