30 Best-Practice Tips on Dog Grooming at Home
While the professionals make it look easy, dog grooming takes a lot of skill, not only to make it look good but to also do it safely.
30 Best-Practice Tips on Dog Grooming at Home
Whether you want to touch up your dog between grooming appointments, have a dog that is too scared to go to the groomer’s or just need to save a little money, learning how to groom your own dog is a useful skill. And, of course, sometimes there are accidents that require you to do some immediate grooming — like the time your kid put gum in your dog’s fur or they rolled in pine pitch — we’ve all been there!
While the professionals make it look easy, dog grooming takes a lot of skill, not only to make it look good but to also do it safely. Here are 30 tips on dog grooming at home to help you freshen up your pup’s look.
Invest in Good Tools
The first and most important tip is to make sure you have good tools. Quality grooming supplies will make your job easier and will lower the risk of injury to your dog.
Ask your groomer what kinds of brushes are best for your dog’s coat type. Invest in quality clippers and a range of blades and combs, depending on the type of clipping you will be doing.
Have the Right Hair Products
Invest in high quality, natural shampoo, conditioner and a leave-in treatment (particularly important for long-haired breeds).
A good quality dry shampoo is good to have on hand, too, when you just need to freshen up your dog’s coat before the mother-in-law visits.
Have Styptic Powder on Hand
No one wants it to happen, but sometimes it does. You cut a nail too much or nick your pooch’s paw with scissors.
Because of this, it’s smart to have styptic powder on hand to stop any bleeding that can happen. Just a dap on the wound should stop it quickly.
Brush Often to Avoid Mattting
If you are going to be grooming your dog at home, make it easy on yourself (and your dog!), and brush often.
Once a week should be enough to keep most mats away.
A Grooming Table Is Your New Best Friend
It’s much easier and safer to groom your dog when they are up on a grooming table. A standard table does not cost that much and will become your back’s new best friend.
If you have a large dog or a really bad back, you may want to look into getting a table that lifts on hydraulics. It will do the heavy lifting for you!
Get Your Dog Used to the Table First
If your dog is nervous at the groomers or is a puppy that hasn’t been, get them used to the table before doing any “scary” grooming stuff. Do this by putting them on the table and feeding treats or a meal. Scratch them in their favorite spots.
Then, put them down and be done for the day. Do this until your dog can relax on the table.
Start With a Thorough Brush Out
The first thing you should do is thorough brushing.
This will reveal any mats that need to be removed, as well as get rid of any loose hair, making trimming and clipping easier.
Your New Secret Weapon: Baby Powder
Have stubborn tangles? Baby powder is going to be your new best friend. If your dog’s hair tangles into small- or medium-sized loose knots that don’t have a hard mat, sprinkle baby powder on them before brushing.
The powder will make the tangles brush out much easier.
Take Frequent Breaks
The best way to keep grooming from becoming a terrible ordeal is to take frequent breaks. Let your dog rest, have some water, maybe even play with a toy.
This is especially important if your dog is a puppy, senior dog or simply stressed by the routine.
Cut Out Bad Knots That Are Not Close to the Skin
After you’ve uncovered all the mats, it’s time to decide the best way to get rid of them!
If they are not close to the skin, you can cut through the middle of the mat and then brush it out, thus saving more of the hair.
Use Blunt-Tipped Scissors
Make sure you are using blunt-tipped grooming scissors and not just any old pair of scissors from your house! These will help you prevent injury to you and your dog.
You will probably want both curved and straight scissors, depending on the groom you are doing.
Shave Mats That Are Close to the Skin
If the mat is really close to the skin, it’s easier on you and your dog to shave it using the clippers. This way, you won’t accidently cut them.
Yes, your dog may have a bald spot, but thankfully, dog hair grows back quickly.
And Watch for Skin!
As a mat forms, it pulls your dog’s hair up. With really bad mats, the dog’s skin will also be getting pulled up, making it easier to accidently cut them.
So, always watch for their skin and be extra vigilant.
Research the Right Blade for the Job You Are Doing
Know your blades! Ask your groomer what number blade they use to get the length you are looking for.
When you are cutting out mats, a size 10 or 40 is usually a good choice.
Do not rush! Rushing is when you end up cutting your dog or shaving them bald. Take breaks as mentioned if you or the dog are getting tired and you feel yourself starting to rush.
You can even spread it out over a few days if needed for both you and your dog’s sake.
Be Sure the Clipper Is Flat When Shaving
When using clippers, keep them flat against your dog’s coat.
There are two reasons for this. One, it will help prevent you from accidentally nicking your dog’s skin. Two, it will give you a more even trim that is not too deep or choppy.
Start From the Neck for All-Over Trims
If you are clipping your dog all over, say for a puppy trim, start at the neck and work your way down.
This is how the pros do it to give your dog a nice, even, appearance.
Start With Clippers, Finish With Scissors
When doing any type of clipping, whether full-body or just cleaning up paw pads and a sanitary clip (clipping the hair around your dog’s privates so it doesn’t get matted), you will want to first use the clippers.
Then, you can “clean up” any unevenness or stray hairs with the scissors.
Trim Your Dog’s Coat in the Direction the Hair Flows
Always use your clippers and scissors in the direction the hair flows. If you go against the hair, you will end up getting a choppy cut with weird lines throughout.
So, this means you will be shaving down and away from your dog rather than up and towards their skin.
Thinning Scissors Will Give You a More Natural Cut, Especially on the Face
If you just need to clean up your dog and want them to still look natural, thinning scissors are a good choice. But be very careful when cutting anything on the face.
It’s best if you have someone with you to help you hold your dog. Only use blunted scissors, and again, go slow!
Always Point the Scissors Away From Your Dog
Another safety thing, be sure to keep your scissors pointing away from your dog. Even blunted scissors can cause injury, and you never know when your dog is going to move.
And since you should be grooming down and away, there really is no reason to have them pointed toward your dog!
Use a Paw Wax on Your Dog’s Paws
Don’t neglect the paw pads during your groom! A natural paw wax will help protect and heal damaged and dry pads.
There are many brands of paw wax, so choose one that doesn’t have any ingredients your dog is allergic to, preferably an all-natural one.
Bathe Your Dog After Trimming
It’s a lot easier to work on a dry coat when it comes to clipping and finding mats, so do that before you bathe.
Then, bathing will remove any loosened hair so your dog is not itchy.
Put Cotton Balls in Your Dog’s Ears
Put cotton balls in the outer ear of your dog to keep water out. Water in a dog’s ear can lead to an infection just like in humans, so it’s good to protect, especially dogs with droopy ears.
Do not put the cotton balls deep into the ear, though, just right inside to soak up the water. If they get soaked during the bath, replace them!
Use Mineral Oil to Keep Shampoo Out of Eyes
You should always use shampoo that is safe for dogs and is mild if it gets in their eyes. However, it’s good to also prevent any discomfort by putting just a couple drops of mineral oil in each eye.
Sometimes, you may need to use a medicated shampoo, which is not easy on the eyes. In that case, the mineral oil is definitely a good idea.
Brush Again With a Leave-In Treatment
After the bath, it’s time to brush again. This time, with a leave-in treatment made for your dog’s coat type.
They make all kinds, those for dogs with dry, itchy skin, long hair and even with sun protection. Choose what’s right for your pooch.
Drying your dog after a bath is one of the most important parts of the grooming process. Dog’s left wet often develop hot spots, especially if they have long hair.
Take the time to thoroughly dry their coat. Towel off first, then use a blow dryer. A dryer made for dog grooming will make the work go quicker if your dog doesn’t mind it.
Don’t Bathe Too Often
Remember to not bathe too often. Bathing strips your dog’s hair and skin of its natural oils.
Frequent bathing can actually cause harm to your dog’s coat and skin! Once a month is plenty for most breeds. Some can even go every few months without a wash.
Trim Nails Frequently
While you don’t want to overbathe, nail trimming is the opposite. It’s easier to do little trims frequently, then try to cut the nails when they are overgrown. As the nail grows, the quick lengthens.
If you have let the nails get too long, you will have to quick your dog in order to get the nail back to where it should be, and no one enjoys that. Some dogs wear their nails down naturally on walks, but you should be checking once a week to be sure they are not in need of a trim.
Reward Your Dog Often
Grooming, including nail trimming, and bathing can be stressful to a lot of dogs. Pairing the routines with rewards such as a favorite treat or frequent breaks for a game of tug can help a dog learn to tolerate it all better. So, be sure you are rewarding often.
In the bath, peanut butter on the wall is an excellent distraction for most dogs. On the table, have treats handy or a helper with a spoon of peanut butter for your dog to lick. Soon, your dog will be much happier about grooming, and the treats can fade.