How to Groom a Dog at Home – DIY Dog Grooming Guide
The subtle feel of the soft, clean and fuzzy fur on your palm. The crystal shiny eyes and the gentlest of barks with subtle scent of shampoo on its body. When it crawls to the top of your couch beside you, it leaves no mark or scratches. As it jumps on you and wags its tail happily, no hair follicle gets on your sweater. That’s the dream status of a dog for every dog owner.
But can it be achieved without throwing all your expenses towards a professional grooming service every 2 weeks or so?
Fear not! Even without a private bucket of cash for your buddy. You can make sure that your dog can stay up to standards when it comes to its personal hygiene and looks at your home.
Be Mentally Prepared and Let Your Dog be Comfortable
When it comes to grooming once pet, it can be a bit overwhelming at first. But once you get the hang of the process, it will be a lot easier. But that requires you to trust yourself, your dog and it has to be comfortable with you enough to be willingly let you groom it. Keep in mind most things like that can freak it out. In order to circumvent this issue, you need to slowly and patiently introduce this to your dog.
And know when to stop when you see that your dog is uncomfortable or worried. Always remember to make the whole experience pleasant and in fact make it an enjoyable experience if you can. By giving treats as rewards for following your commands and being obedient throughout the process, it slowly gets to trust your actions and behaves as you need it to.
Gathering the Proper Materials
Procuring the needed materials is a must before doing any grooming. This will make the whole process easier with the proper tools and also cost effective as professionals charge you more then the price to buy these tools for grooming. Keep everything at hand depending on the task.
- Dog grooming table
- Slicker brush/curry brushes/gloves/pin brush/medium and coarse tined metal comb. (Depending on the breed and type of dog.)
- Dog nail clippers based on the size of the dog nails. Softer for puppies and harder for bigger dogs. Avoid guillotine style clippers for dogs. Pet-safe Dremel tool recommended.
- Soft cotton piece and ear cleaning solution. Natural is better.
- Dog shampoo, depending on the breed and fur type. Special cases with skin issues need more special products.
- Bath Tub
- Few towels and dryers for dogs with multiple coats and longer fur.
- Dog hair clippers based on dog breed and hair length. Better quality clippers save you in the long run.
- Patience, good treatment and give the dog a positive feeling about the whole process. Treats and such are recommended.
Always remember that if you are not confident enough, professionals are there. It’s better than causing harm to the dog.
Grooming before and after Bathing
There are few main stages of grooming. Before the bathing, the bathing itself and after bathing the dog. This is due to the fact dogs are dirty before bathing and can cause the dog to be dirtier if isn’t clean enough before the bathing process. And few other steps are better done before the dog bathes to get rid of any germs or bacteria on groomed areas and spots.
You can brush after bathing if that’s what you prefer, as different sources suggest differently. Some say bathe first, comb, clip or trim, keeps the dog’s hair from tangling and loosens it from hurting the dog through the process. But since there is no definitive route, we will proceed with brushing and pre bath grooming to give the most diverse method for dog grooming.
First make sure that throughout the whole process you are not distracted till the very end and preferably be in quite environment. That will help you dog to relax and you won’t be liable to make less mistakes and accidents, if they are bound to happen.
Rudimentary Cleaning with Combs and Brushes
Begin with combing and make it a daily routine if need be. Brushes and such are easier to use, but it can’t always manage the small crevices and the tricky angles in a dog fur like a comb can. Mat or tangled up hair can be detected by the comb and loosened and worked through with a brush. Try to avoid brushing in the same place for too long as it can burn the dog’s skin. Always take caution while combing or brushing the sensitive spots on the dog’s body.
Any tough tangled hair or mat can be clipped or trimmed off later on. For longer fur use metal combs, pin brush, medium and coarse metal comb. For shorter haired dog use brushes and hands.
If your dog is not comfortable with the process then give it a break. You should not overwhelm your dog with brushing or combing. It might cause it trauma if forced, and it will try to avoid grooming in the future. You have to finish all the processes by making the dog enjoy it’s time with you while grooming. Reward it for behaving well, praise it. Give it a break if need be, never stress it out.
Cut Out the Mats that are Difficult to Brush Out
If your dog has thick mat then cut the mat with a clipper, avoid scissors as its mostly unsafe to you and the dog. Because most of the time combing/brushing over thick mat is quite difficult, the dog’s skin can be pulled out with the mat and the dog get injured. Try not to pull the dogs hair, this is avoided with sharp clippers. Be careful not to hurt the dog while clipping. If you cannot safely clip the mat without hurting your dog, take it to a professional groomer. If you notice that the dog has a bacterial infection under the fur, take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Cleaning the Eyes
Clean out the corner of the eye with warm damp or soft warm washcloth. Some dog breeds need more attention than others, and some have longer fur to deal with while others have larger eyes. For few of them using solvents which removes the residues for tearing up based on particular dog breeds. Avoid removing hair around the dog’s eyes yourself and ask help from veterinarian or professional groomer for such cases. Dogs eyes should be crystal clear. If the dog’s eyes exhibit redness, cloudiness, inflammation, irritation, watery beyond normal or if you notice any bleeding in the eye, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Always use body temperature warm water and start out slowly with raising the temperature to not burn your dog or cause it any worries.
Cleaning the Ears
Normally dog’s ears have some wax, even in the clean ears. But there shouldn’t be any odor. You can clean your dog’s ears with an ear-cleaning solvent or wax depending on the dog breed, and a cotton wool. Wipe dirt and wax away gently and don’t rub vigorously. The inner ear is very sensitive so don’t push the cleaner too far into the ear. For dogs with folded ears clean the inner part gently as they can contain dirt and such. Clean what’s visible to you don’t clean what you can’t see. You might also need some good treats for your dog.
- Pour tiny amounts of the cleaning solvent on a cotton cloth or swab. Excess solvent can flow down the ear canals and cause infection
- Hold the tip of the ear and move your way out depending on the shape and structure of the ear. Never try to go in too deep.
- Massage the ear only for 20 seconds.
- Most probably your dog will shake his head vigorously.
- Now take a cotton wool and wipe out the folds at the opening of the canal until it looks clean.
- Now it’s time to give a treat and praise your dog. After that repeat this process with the other ear.
- Praise your dog and give it a good treat for behaving.
Call the Vet for Any Ear Problem
If you notice that your dog’s ears looks either red, swollen, irritated, dark, blackened or you have any kind of doubt that it has ear infection, contact your vet immediately.
Brushing its teeth
Brushing is a regular mandatory need for dogs as for humans. But if your dog’s mouth is healthy, brushing three times weekly can be passable. But brushing it’s teeth daily is the best practice. If you don’t brush your dog’s teeth regularly, plaque can and grime can be built up. Your dog may have bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay.
Gather the Tools You Need
Sometimes people brush the teeth of the dog with brushes that is originally made for the human beings. But that is really a foolish activity. Please don’t use a human toothbrush for brushing dog’s teeth. Here is the list of things that you need for brushing your dog’s teeth-
- Toothbrush that is originally made for the dog. You should use these brushes because these are softer and specially angled for the dog mouth. Gauze or finger brushes are also available to help dogs brush their teeth.
- Dog toothpaste. Don’t use human toothpaste because it contains ingredients like fluoride that can harm your dog. Dogs toothpaste contains dog-friendly flavors and ingredients or peanut butter that will attract your dog and the dog will not be bother at all.
Assume the Position and Time
Pick the right place where your dog feels comfortable. Sit in front or to the side of your dog and test its willingness by putting some toothpaste on your finger and rub the paste along its upper gums and teeth. This way your dog will get used to the feel of something against its teeth. Use light pressure and repeat this whole process couple of times. Always make a routine out of brushing to make it comfortable with this process. This is much better if you start from the early age of the dog. That way they won’t try to bite you while trying to brush for the first few times. Back away immediately if it tries to bite.
As dog toothpaste has good taste and dogs usually like it. Let the dog taste some toothpaste putting on your fingertip. This way she will use to the texture and taste. After that, start using the toothpaste and toothbrush together.
Mistakes You Should Avoid While Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
- Don’t stand above your dog’s head.
- Don’t hold your dog’s head down.
- Don’t stay behind the dog.
- Try to gauge your dog’s anxiety level, if it seems upset don’t try to brush it’s teeth. It will better you try again another day.
- Change the toothpaste if the dog refuses to take that flavor or brand, the more natural once are safer.
- If the dogs gum starts bleeding, or if you see that its brown or black stuff near the gums or the teeth stop immediately. It can harm the dog or give it immense pain. Go to the veterinarian immediately.
Dogs Need Dental Care
Like a human being, dogs need dental care and all sorts of medical checkup for its wellbeing. Please don’t overlook these important matters.
Clipping the nails
Clip your dog’s nails with the dog nail clipper. If the nails of the dog are too long and you can hear his nails on the ground when he walks then you must clip those nails. These long nails can cause many joint related issues, so check them every week or so.
- Use the perfect nail clipper which is easy to use, make sure to get the right size for the nails. You can use guillotine-style nail clipper for small breeds, pliers-style nail clipper and scissors-type nail clipper for larger breeds as those are easy to use for particular breeds.
- You have to clip right before you reach the blood vessels in the quick (quick or the pink part ). Each dog breed needs different time and patience. For whiter and clear nails, you can see the quick and can avoid it easier than black nails of other breeds. The black nails need more attention and patience as to avoid cutting through the quick. Preferably using a dremeling tool which is cordless to as not choke the dog out by mistake or catch on its hair. Dremel very slowly till you reach the quick and stop.
- Dremels can heat up and hurt the dog and can burn the nails which can make the work even more time consuming. Either use lubricants or find a way to spread the heat out by putting the dremel on a steel surface to radiate the heat.
- Take your time and clip the nails with extra care, especially with the dark nails.
- In the case of an accident where you have cut too close to the quick and there is bleeding use septic powder, baking soda, or baking flour with a bit of pressure to stop any bleeding. And contact your vet just in case.
- Avoid clipping till the last as accidents and the clips can freak the dog our or make it frightened. Don’t continue if its causing the dog too much anxiety and just stop for the day.
The Bathing Process
Just like a human being, baths play an important role in keeping your dog healthy and hygienic. It moisturizes the dog’s skin, helping to keep your dog clean and free of dirt and parasites. And without the dirt and parasite dogs can release oils from its skin for its coat of fur to stay healthy.
Gather Your Essential Supplies
Make it a habit to always keep the essential supplies for the job to be at hand into a habit, to not waste time. Also never leave the dog alone with any of the supplies.
Find A Non-slip Surface On The Bottom Of The Tub Or Bowl To Wash The Dog
If your bathtub/bowl’s surface is not slippery, then avoid this step. But sometimes bathtubs get slippery once it gets soapy. In that case use a towel or a bath mat on the tab. And put few rags around the tub to avoid water spillage or splashing by the dog.
Pre-fill The Tub With Luke-warm Water
Extreme temperatures can harm your dog’s skin. Too hot can burn it while too cold can give it fever, especially for your short-coated dog. So you need lukewarm body temperature water that will help you make a better and safer experience. Try to gradually shower it with the rising temperature and distract it from sensing the running water for too long.
leash the dogs with water and shower proof leashes and avoid making the leash too tight. Always keep note of its behavior or breathing. Be on the pre cautionary side. Don’t fill the water in the tub too much. Just about ankle deep water for the dog is enough in most cases.
You should use the dog shampoo that is originally made for the dog because it’s different from people shampoo and less likely to dry their skin. Wet your dog completely before you start applying shampoo. Apply the dog shampoo and massage it all over your dog’s body excepting the eyes as per instructions of the shampoo bottle. You should talk to your dog in a calm and reassuring voice during the shampoo time. Rinse your dog’s coat carefully that there have no soap or shampoo left because it can irritate your dog’s skin once she’s dry.
And residue shampoo can cause infections too. In the narrow crevices or sensitive spots try to run water thru the fur coat until the soapy residues wash away. For dogs that can handle the water pressure like the bigger breeds use a bit of pressured water using a hose or anything alike to get the shampoo off.
Dry Your Dog
Take a large absorbent towel and wrap it around the dog without restricting its limbs. Dogs will try to dry themselves off by shaking their body manically. To avoid that from happening, hold the dog a tiny bit firmly or block it’s surrounding with the towel so it can’t splash the water around.
If your dog has short fur then you can do it with a towel. But if your dog has a medium or long fur, a bit thick fur then you will be needed a blow dryer. You should use a blow-dryer that is designed for dogs; because its lower temperatures won’t cause itching or dandruff. If you want to use normal dryer use the cooler setting on the blow dryer. This will keep the dog’s skin from drying and won’t burn its skin.
Make sure to dry its fur completely for the last step.
Clip Your Dog’s Fur
Don’t start clipping until the dog dries up. Depending on the dog breed and the style of their fur, you need to clip its fur. Short coated dogs won’t need clipping much if at all. While others with complex and varying fur coats will need clipping on a regular basis.
- If you are a new groomer, I recommend some video tutorial to get some idea. Here is a link to dog clipping video that may helpful for you.
- Watch the video carefully to get an idea of how to achieve the desired result.
- Safety first: To ensure the safety of your dog, you need a dog grooming table, a sharp dog clipper, a Slicker brush and a long leash to tie him up with the dog grooming table stand ( unless the grooming stand arrives with attached one pre-packed). Your clipper blades should be sharp and well lubricated. A dull blade can pull on the hair that is painful. Please don’t try a scissor when you are a new groomer. you may hurt the dog.
- The dog trimmer or clipper head must have different head sizes and different amount of blade on them. Different coats sizes need different amount of blade. The smaller and precise blades are not to be used around the small crevices or anywhere around the sensitive and vital spots of the dog’s body. Near the eyes, nose, anus, tip of the tail, armpits, genital and such soft and sensitive areas which can be severely damaged with a careless touch or unknowledgeable action.
- Start clipping from the back of the neck and be very methodical. Don’t push the clipper too fast or too forcefully and clip with the growth of hair. Clip two side, one by one and after that two back legs. Don’t forget to use the slicker brush, it can help you deduce you might have missed clipping. When you clip the hair of the chest and belly fur, hold his two front legs up with your hands. So that the dog could not move around.
- Frequently stop clipping to check your if your clipper blades aren’t too hot. If you find it becomes too warm, simply spray on the coolant or switch the blades and let the hot ones cool down.
- Praise your dog and don’t forget to give it a nice treat to make easier grooming in future.
I hope you can groom your dog now. If you have any confusion you can watch videos on YouTube. Here are some video links-
I recommend live training from a professional dog groomer, because this is the best way to learn dog grooming. Hopefully this article makes your grooming days more efficient and less costly. And always remember that if you can’t groom or have no confidence, vets and professional groomers can do this for you much more reliably.
The Most Important Do’s and Don’ts When Grooming Your Dog at Home
We have put together a checklist of five do’s and five don’ts. This will help guide you to the grooming you can do for your dog at home, with the health and safety of your dog in mind.
The Five Do’s
At first let’s discuss the five things you need to do.
1. Do Maintain A Regular At-home Grooming Schedule
You have to start off with a regular at-home grooming schedule. Depending on the dog breed, they may need weekly grooming needs like brushing, bathing, teeth cleaning, etc.
Different breeds grow hair at different rates. So you need to choose a schedule depending on your dog’s hair growth. For example, a poodle requires brushing two to three times weekly, while labs will need a bath only once a month.
Ignoring grooming needs is detrimental for your dog. Hair can get matted, skin can get irritable, and walking on their overgrown nails can be painful.
So, be sure to always maintain the same grooming schedule.
Maintaining a regular schedule for grooming has an additional benefit.
Dogs are creatures of habits, patterns, and rituals. You will notice they know exactly what to do when it is bedtime, dinner time, and walk time. This is why it is important to maintain a grooming schedule and ritual.
Maintaining a regular schedule will ensure your dog remains familiar with grooming and knows it is not something scary for them to face.
2. Do Handle with Patience & Gentle Calm Energy
Whatever grooming expedition you are about to embark on, always handle your dog with patience and a calm and cool head. Dogs sense your energies and moods. If you are feeling nervous about grooming your dog, calm yourself before you go any further.
Clear out your schedule and allocate extra time to be gentle and patient with them. Dogs are not always going to enjoy getting wet or bathe. So, keep that in mind and hold your cool.
The more calmly and gently you approach grooming the less stressed and tensed your dog will be. This will result in a positive experience for both of you.
3. Do Use The Proper Grooming Tools
Before you decide to groom your dog at home, you need to take stock of the equipment you have. It is important to note that dog grooming products are designed specifically for dogs. So, you should never use household grooming products to groom your dog. Yes, even the hairbrush needs to be different.
If you decide to trim or clip your dogs’ hair, get the proper hair clippers and trimmers. They are designed to cut without pulling and making too much noise. The noise of machines is what makes dogs nervous.
Invest in good quality grooming products and learn about how to use and care for those products. It is important to keep them in good working condition for the comfort of both you and your dog while you groom them.
4. Do be Gentle with Temperature & Environment
As you have noticed by now, everything about grooming a dog has to have an emphasis on comfort for the dog.
Just like having sharp and high-quality grooming products is important, so are the temperatures you will subject your dog to while grooming.
Bathe your dog with lukewarm water so they are not cold and shivering. When drying, use a low-temperature setting on the dryer to make sure the heat is not too extreme for their delicate skin.
Similarly, be sure to cut out all noise of the household during his grooming. Turn on some calming music that will calm your and your furbaby’s nerves, and keep all distracting loud noises out.
For your safety, make sure you are grooming him in a well-lit and temperature-controlled environment. We often choose to groom our dogs in the bathroom. This is completely fine, but just ensure all electrical appliances are away from water sources.
5. Do Use Fragrance-free Natural Products
One of the biggest advantages of grooming your dog at home is that you get to control what products he will be groomed with.
Now is the time to indulge in fragrance-free natural products that are good for him. Research these products and use the most gentle products in the market for him. Your baby deserves the best.
Besides, the money you will save by not going to the groomer will leave plenty of money in your dog budget to get him that organic natural product he will thank you for.
As for fragrance, keep in mind, their sense of smell is ten times stronger than us. So, avoid scented products as much as possible.
Now that we have covered the do’s, let’s discuss some of the don’ts to round out the grooming tips
1. Don’t Clip Nails Too Much
While nail trimming is an essential part of grooming your dog, some pet owners can get overzealous and inadvertently hurt their dog in the process.
Therefore, do not cut their nails too short. Dog’s nail contains a blood vessel called the quick. Research where that quick is in the nail length. If it is too difficult for you to ascertain where the quick is, just trim only the very small amount of the top. If their toes curl, cut it where the curl begins.
Trimming just a tiny amount of nail is more than sufficient for your dog. However, if you do hit the quick the experience will be very traumatic for your dog and they will never trust the activity of nail trimming again.
So, don’t clip the nails too much and be very careful.
2. Do Not Forget The Ears And Teeth
When we think of grooming dogs we often focus mostly on the coat and the nails. However, their ears and teeth grooming are just as important.
Do not forget about the ears and teeth. Check their ears for any ticks, and gently clean them without going into the ear canal. Use gentle natural cleansing wipe designed for dogs and do not use water and soap. If your dog is suffering from an ear infection use the veterinarian recommended ear drops and solutions to manage the infection.
You should get your dog in the habit of teeth cleaning regularly to keep their teeth and gums healthy. Gum diseases from teeth decay can cause serious illnesses in dogs and can be a serious source of pain.
Use toothbrushes designed for dogs and only use toothpaste that is designed for dogs alone. They will inevitably ingest and try to lick the toothpaste, so use a natural biodegradable and edible toothpaste that is specifically designed for use for dogs (and not humans).
3. Do Not Overdo The Grooming Rituals
Once we start to get comfortable with grooming our dogs, we can sometimes get overzealous. So, it is important to ensure you do not overdo the grooming.
Don’t bathe them more than the recommended times per week or per month. Overbathing your dog can cause skin irritations and dry itchy skin as it strips out essential oils from your dog’s coat.
We have also discussed the need for not overgrooming their nails, and so the same goes for their coat too.
Another example of overgrooming is cutting the hair too short. Our natural instincts will want to shave down their fur very short during the summer months. However, doing so will expose their delicate skin to UV radiation from the sun. So, be sure to keep a healthy length of hair at all times.
Don’t overdo the grooming.
4. Do Not Ignore The Grooming Tools
It is very important to pay attention to your grooming tools and maintain them regularly. Toenail clippers will require regular sharpening, and the blades of the hair clippers need to be replaced occasionally. Read up on proper care of grooming tools from the manufacturer’s blogs, websites, and video channels. Follow those instructions.
As for other non-electrical tools like combs and brushes. Disinfect and wash them with gentle cleansing solutions after every use.
5. Do Not Restrain
Our little fur babies can be squeamish and try to wiggle their way out of many grooming situations. That can lead us to want to restrain them while we groom. While this may feel safer, it is not.
Do not tether them or restrain them in any way. Similarly do not pull on them by their fur. Have a firm grip but not restraining. If they are too excited or skittish, give them extra time to calm down before proceeding.
It is important to remember that the entire grooming process requires your dog placing tremendous trust in you to not hurt them. They already trust you with their lives and know you will look after them. Grooming can easily destroy that trust factor if you don’t do it carefully.
It will help you to frame their experience as the same as yours at a hair salon. You would want your hairstylist or barber to be gentle and careful with you. Same applies to fido.
Be patient, calm, gentle, and always keep your dog’s comfort and wellbeing in mind with every grooming session. Whatever you do, don’t give up on grooming your dog. After all, it is their wellness that leads us to groom them in the first place. Happy pet parenting!
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