Pet grooming at home might sound like a chore! But you wouldn’t go months without grooming yourself. And you certainly wouldn’t let months go by without grooming your child.
Why treat your dog any differently?
A busy schedule. Okay. That could be one reason. Cost. Okay. That could be another reason.
What about that voice that lets you off the hook? “I love my dog. I do. But my dog is not a human child. I can put off the pet grooming for another day.”
What if we told you that pet grooming is essential to keeping your dog healthy? And what if we told you that you can overcome the scheduling and high cost by grooming your dog at home?
Now you’re with us. Because you’re running low on excuses. And because you know that your dog is a full member of your family and should be treated as such. Read on.
Top tips for pet grooming at home…
Gather the pet grooming tools you’ll need:
- dog shampoo
- dog brushes and combs
- dog nail clippers
- dog coat clippers
- blow dryer
- dog toothbrush
- dog toothpaste
- dog treats
When we say dog products, we mean dog products. Human products are for humans, and using your own grooming products on your dog can have negative effects on your dog’s health.
Before the bath…
Comb the coat.
Combing your dog is about removing their loose hair or fur, de-tangling matted hair or fur, and distributing oils secreted from their skin throughout their coat.
You’ll want to try a few different brushes to see what works best for your dog’s coat. And keep in mind that some breeds have different coat lengths and textures covering different parts of their bodies, so you might need a few different brushes to serve those varying patches.
Once you’ve got a brush (or brushes) that you and your dog can agree on, make a habit of combing your dog’s coat regularly. Each time, start by combing their head. Then move down the body and on through the tail. Be sensitive with the under belly, where dogs are usually most sensitive.
When you come across tangled hair or matted fur, see if you can tease it out with your fingers and brushes. Make sure to hold the hair or fur firmly at the base of the tangled or matted spot while you work it out. The closer to the skin the mat is the trickier your job will be.
Cut out the mats (that you can’t brush out).
Severe matting pulls on your dog’s skin, causing pain and discomfort. So cutting off the matted hair or fur that won’t wiggle free is so important – especially before you wash and clip the coat.
Use extreme care with the scissors, so you avoid injury to yourself and your pet. And do your best to cut in the direction of the coat, so you avoid an uneven and rough look.
Wipe the eyes.
A healthy eye is clear of gunk and tear stains.
For many breeds, cleaning the eyes is as simple as gently wiping away eye waste from the corner of the eyes. Lighter colored coats might require some special products from the pet store to remove tear stains from the hair or fur around the eyes
Resist any urge to trim away stains near the eyes, because the risk of injury is too great. If you aren’t able to remove stains, mats, and tangles nearby the eyes some other way, seek help from your professional groomer.
Clean the ears.
Wipe away the wax and dirt from the inner ear gently. If you rub hard you’ll replace the wax and dirt you’re removing with sores, and that’s not at all the sort of clean you or your dog is after.
Use the professional groomer’s best practice here: only clean what you can see. This will keep you from reaching too far into the ear and removing more wax than you should, or damaging the ear by poking it in some other way.
If you use a damp cloth to clean the ear, make sure you dry the ear once you’re done wiping it. Wet ears lead to ear infections, which are painful. And cost you the time, energy, and expense of a vet visit. No fun.
Brush the teeth.
This will take you, and especially your dog, some getting used to, so make sure to ease into it.
The first time around, take some dog toothpaste on your finger and spread it around on your dog’s teeth. If your dog is okay with having your finger inside their mouth for about thirty seconds or longer, then you can try using a finger toothbrush or a dog toothbrush.
Clip the nails.
Can you hear your dog’s nails on the ground when they walk? That means they’re too long, and there’s a risk that they’ll curl into the paw pads and cause joint pain and damage.
Keep your dog’s nails short – but not too short. Be careful not to clip so much that you disrupt a blood vessel and cause bleeding. Clipping often and regularly will help make it easy to clip away just a little bit, and have that little bit be enough.
During the bath…
Prepare the bath.
Place a no-slip mat on the bottom of your tub so your dog won’t go slipping and sliding. Then, fill the tub with lukewarm water before your dog gets in. It’ll save time and eliminate the stress that is loud running water.
Soak your dog.
The whole coat should be soaked through before you begin to soap. Be careful about how you soak your dog’s head. We recommend a spray bottle, so you can keep bath water out of the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
Soap your dog.
Start by soaping the neck, and move down the body from there – over the back, down the legs and tail. Use a wet towel to soap the head last, so you can be careful not to get soap in the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
Rinse your dog.
Just as you were thorough about soaking your dog before soaping, you have to be thorough about rinsing after soaping. Pour water over your dog until there are no more dirt particles and soap bubbles coming off their coat.
Dry your dog.
Use a towel (or maybe towels) to get your dog as dry as you can before you let them out of the tub. Pat them dry, and train them that when you hold a towel over their back in the tub that they can shake themselves dry.
If towels alone won’t do the trick, use a hair dryer on a cool setting. A cool setting will help make sure that you don’t dry out, or burn, your dog’s skin. It’s wise to brush while you blow, so you keep the hairs running in the right direction.
Once your dog is mostly dry, especially if they’re antsy, you can let the rest happen naturally. Find them a clean space to take a nap, and let the air around them in time do the rest of the work.
After the bath…
If your dog has a short coat, you’re probably done once they’re dry from the bath.
But, if your dog has a shaggier coat, then some trimming is probably in order. And only now, with the pre-bath and bath routines done, can the styling begin.
Choose a look, and get the right clippers.
Learn about what your dog’s breed is meant to look like.
Buy the clippers that are right for your dog’s coat type and the sort of cut you’re after. It’s worth spending a bit of money to invest in a good quality clipper because a clipper will give you the most even cut. It might feel a bit expensive, but just think about all the money you’ll save in the long run when you don’t have those high professional grooming fees anymore.
The quieter the clipper the better, too, because loud clippers tend to stress out dogs.
Clip with patience.
Make sure your dog is secure, so there won’t be sudden movement against the blade.
Clip in the direction of the hair or fur’s natural growth to avoid leaving lines. Press firmly and proceed slowly. Check the blades for heat as you go, too, giving time to cool the blades as necessary. As always, be extra careful with the sensitive areas, like the head and face.
It could take a few rounds to make the cut look and feel like you want it to. Scissors are useful for touch up work after a good clip by a clipper, and for certain parts of longer-haired dogs.
All the way through…
Give encouragement and show affection.
Some give small treats along the way, and others let their dog settle in with a rawhide bone or toy with treats to uncover inside.
Some spend a little extra time on a part of the grooming that they know their dog likes best. And others save the part of grooming that their dog likes worst for last, so their dog can remain calm and collected for as much of the grooming as possible.
Make grooming a ritual. The experience will get better for both of you with time and practice, as you learn what works best and what keeps you both safe and relaxed.
If you’re in tune with your dog’s personality and needs, you can give your dog a grooming session that will feel like their day at the spa. And who doesn’t like a day at the spa? When that power of touch comes from a loved one, the massage is all the better.
Check for potential health problems.
Do you see any ticks, fleas, skin irritation, or unusual lumps? If you come across something that seems suspicious, seek help from your vet, and get your pet the care they need to get back to full health as quickly as possible.
A well-groomed dog will be a healthy dog. And a healthy dog will be a happy dog, and a better companion to you and those you love.
No questions about pet grooming at home? Get grooming on your schedule, and give your dog a great mane for an unbeatable cost!