Grooming is part of the dog parenting experience some owners enjoy doing while others prefer leaving it in the hands of professional dog groomers. In this article, we will explain how to groom your own dog in the comfort of your home.
Studies show that visiting the grooming salon can be a stressful experience for most dogs. And with prices ranging from $40 to $75 per session, visiting the local groomer is stressful for pet parents as well.
Since taking care of your dog’s coat takes more than an occasional brush and trim, you need a quick lesson grooming course. Keep reading as we will reveal the secrets of DIY dog grooming.
Grooming Supplies You’ll Need
This grooming tools list may seem long and pricy, but once you pay for the initial supplies, you will not have to spend another dime for your dog’s grooming needs. Basically, it is “save money” mode from that point on.
Scissors and Clippers
Scissors and clippers are the basic tools of the DIY dog grooming kit. The clippers are more straightforward to use, but your dog might find the noise troublesome (newer electric razor clippers are less noisy). The scissors are better fitted for hard-to-reach spots but make it easier to nick your dog’s skin accidentally. Choose a clipper with different blade lengths and short and sharp scissors with straight edges.
Brushes for your Dog’s Coat
The brush you need depends on your dog’s coat type (short-haired dogs have different needs than long-haired dogs). If your pet has different dog hair lengths and styles on different body areas, you might need various brushes. You should also invest in a high-quality flea comb for removing these pesky parasites from your dog’s coat.
The Honest Paws Wag N’Brush features rubber bristles that are soft enough to give your dog a good massage while strong enough to remove dead dog hair and dirt. Plus, it has a dog shampoo dispenser and can be effortlessly used while bathing.
Nail Trimming Tools
There are two options for trimming your dog’s nails – a nail grinder or a dog clipper. The nail grinder is more expensive, a bit noisy, and takes a few more minutes, but it is safer. The nail clipper is inexpensive, quiet, and fast, but you can accidentally clip your dog’s nails too short (cut the quick).
Dog Shampoo and Care Products
The shampoo and care products depend on your dog’s breed and individual needs. For example, if you have a Maltese Poodle, you will need a dog shampoo formulated exclusively for white-haired dogs. As for individual needs, dogs with skin issues need medicated shampoos and conditioners (ask your vet or a professional groomer for advice).
Grooming tables are not essential, but dog groomers use them because of practical purposes. A good grooming table will keep your dog calmer (most dogs are calmer when in high places) and is easy on your back. If you plan to groom your dog at home regularly, you should invest in this tool (there are reasonably priced grooming tables).
Treats and Patience
Although not actual grooming tools, treats and patience are vital when planning to groom your own dog. Your dog picks up on your feelings – if you are annoyed, your dog will be nervous.
General Tips for Dog Grooming
Do not expect to become a professional groomer after watching several YouTube videos. Home grooming takes time and practice, but as the skills evolve, you will be able to decrease the number of grooming salon visits. Here are some basic tips on DIY dog grooming.
- Manage your expectations – your West highland terrier can look great after a DIY dog grooming session (with a puppy haircut). In contrast, your Poodle’s body haircut requires the expertise of professional dog groomers (especially if prepping for a show).
- Familiarize yourself with the grooming process and your dog’s hair type – watch grooming videos online and make a list of the supplies you will need (start with the basics).
- Hit the grooming shop and purchase the right grooming supplies – this may seem like an investment but will help save money in the long run. You must never use human clippers or other tools on dogs.
- Start grooming your dog while a puppy – at this point, the goal is to get your pup used to the handling so it can enjoy grooming when an adult. Also, use tons of dog treats (peanut butter works excellently) – your dog needs to associate the grooming with fun time.
- Learn as you groom – observe your dog’s well-being and reactions and adjust your grooming accordingly; for example, if your dog hates having its ears handled and enjoys brushing, leave the ear cleaning for the end and spend extra time on brushing.
- Outsource certain tasks – if expressing the anal glands is too hard (too gross) or your dog stresses over nail trims, leave these services to professional groomers.
Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
To take care of your dog’s teeth, all you need is a dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste. Using a special dog toothpaste is critical as human versions contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs. Your dog needs regular brushing of the teeth – no less than three times per week.
Trimming Your Dog’s Nails
Nail trimming is an integral part of the DIY dog grooming process. Once you chose the tool (nail grinder or clipper), the technique is the same – hold your dog’s paw steady and make sure you get a good visual of the quick (if your pup has black nails, do not go past the nail curve).
Cutting your dog’s nails too short will result in pain and bleeding (copious but not dangerous). However, it can make your dog scared of future nail trims.
Just keep in mind that dealing with your dog’s nails can be a two-person job – one person to do the manicure/pedicure and the other to calm the dog (hold a spoonful of peanut butter or offer dog treats).
Brushing Your Dog’s Fur
Most dogs enjoy being brushed, and pet parents love this part of the DIY dog grooming session. If your dog has short hair, you can brush once a week, but you will have to brush daily if it has long hair.
You should brush the mats out by holding the dog’s fur close to its skin. If working out the mat is impossible or too painful for your dog, do not hesitate to cut it out.
Bathing Your Dog
Before bath time, put mineral oil around your dog’s eyes and cotton balls inside its ears to keep water and shampoo out.
When bathing, start at the top and gradually work your way down (leaving the face for the end prevents getting shampoo in the eyes). Use warm water to soak your dog and the Honest Paws Wag N’ Brush to get the shampoo into your dog’s fur and skin.
Once well-shampooed, rinse your dog thoroughly and let it drip dry for a few minutes before toweling. Your dog needs to be 75% dry (you can use your hairdryer) before moving to the next step – the haircut.
Bath time is the perfect opportunity to examine your dog’s skin for issues – cuts, bruises, lumps, or ticks.
How to style your dog’s hair is completely up to you. If you want an easy-maintenance style, go for a puppy haircut or if you want a more complex look, give your dog a haircut based on its breed
The actual grooming part is straightforward – you cannot hurt your pet if you are careful and using high-quality dog clippers and scissors.
Trimming the Face
Since most groomers leave the face for the end, you should do the same. To groom the facial fur, use small clippers and scissors – they allow more precise trims and are safer. Be extra careful when working around the eyes, and make sure you do not accidentally cut your dog’s whiskers.
Trimming Around the Ears
You need to be careful when working around the ears – these are sensitive body parts for your pet. Dog groomers wax the inside of the ear. The DIY dog grooming does not include waxing, but you can clip the hair inside the ears short to prevent dirt and moisture accumulation, and infections.
Trimming the Body Fur
If using pet scissors, eyeball the coat length (comparing it to your fingers helps). To prevent nicking your dog’s skin, use your fingers to create a barrier between the scissor blades and the skin.
If using dog clippers, set them to standard length and make frequent pauses (the blades can get hot and burn your dog’s skin).
Keep in mind that your dog’s skin on the belly and in the armpits and groins is more sensitive. Also, pay extra attention to your dog’s neck (especially where the collar normally stands) and groom this area carefully and thoroughly.
Trimming the Paws
To groom your dog’s fur around the paws, you can use the same grooming tools you used for the face. The dog’s feet are generally very ticklish, so you need to be extra careful and let your pet take frequent breaks (bribing with treats helps too).
Our Final Thoughts
The basic DIY dog grooming session includes several services – dog hair brushing and clipping, bathing, nail trims, teeth and ear cleaning, expressing the anal glands. Each requires different grooming tools, techniques, and skills.
However, grooming your dog should not be imagined as a tedious task – think of it as an opportunity to bond with your pet (the health benefits are a bonus).