If you learn how to groom a dog at home you will not only be able to help your pooch look good and stay healthy but also save a lot of money. Using a professional groomer is a good idea from time to time, but doing so consistently will make a hefty dent in your bank account.
All dogs, no matter what breed they are, require a good amount of grooming, and today we are going to focus on what this looks like. Your dog will need a grooming session at least once or twice a week, and here is how to go about it.
There are many grooming tips that you can find online, but it is always worth checking with a vet or a groomer first, to give you confidence in what you are doing. Dog grooming is both about showing your pooch some love, and ensuring that they are healthy.
Most dogs don’t enjoy the sight of grooming tools coming out at first, but gradually they will get used to it and learn to love it. To get your dog accustomed to home grooming, the key is consistency.
If you have a grooming schedule that you can maintain, it will become a constant feature in your pup’s life. The basics to successful dog grooming are to get the right tools and ensure that you know what you are doing and what you should be looking for.
Don’t try and cut corners using human shampoos or hair clippers, they simply aren’t fit for purpose on a pet’s skin or hair. Another worthwhile tip to remember is to try and groom your dog in the same place each time.
If you can set up a separate grooming table or blanket then this will help. It is all about getting the dog used to this new part of their lives, and familiarity will help do just that.
Learn How to Groom a Dog
If you don’t know where to start with your dog’s grooming, don’t worry, you are in the same boat as every other new dog owner. All you need to do is spend a little time learning, referencing articles like ours, and speaking with your vet.
Like so many things, the best way to learn how to groom the dog is by doing it. Something worth remembering when you first start is to keep a few products handy in case you do unintentionally hurt the dog.
For example, some styptic powder to help with wounds, some eye drops in case they get products in there, and some antiseptic wipes for any nicks or cuts. These products most likely won’t be required, but there is nothing wrong with keeping them close, should you have an accident.
Take your time and if your dog looks distressed, let them run off that energy and try again later on. This will take your pooch just as long to get used to as it will for you.
Trimming the dog’s coat is something you should do delicately, and there are several reasons why. The obvious reason why you should take care when cutting your dog’s fur is that sharp objects and a wriggling dog don’t make a good mix.
The last thing that you want is to injure your pooch, so be careful and ask for help if the dog moves too much. You should also take great care when cutting the dog’s hair because you don’t want to take off too much.
A dog’s coat grows in a way that best protects the dog, its hair has natural oils that are designed to strengthen follicles and keep the coat glossy. If you go too crazy when cutting the hair, you could cause issues with this delicate balance.
Before cutting your dog’s hair, you need to assess whether they have short-growth hair or long-growth hair. Short-haired dogs are those with fast-growing hair that dies when it gets to a certain length, before regrowing.
Long-haired dogs, on the other hand, have hair that quite literally grows until you trim it. The reason it is important to know the difference is that a short-growth dog should never have its hair cut unless instructed by a vet.
Long-haired dogs, however, can and should have their coats trimmed. Make sure that you use dog clippers and not human clippers when trimming your dog’s coat. These have quieter motors, and faster-moving blades and are usually cordless making them easier to use.
When you first start the grooming process, don’t look to take off much hair from your pooch. Aim to keep it simple and focus on cutting symmetrically.
Try to take off just an inch or two of hair. Once you get comfortable, you can try out different styles and cuts.
Be very careful around the eyes, ears, nipples, and genitals, these are soft areas that can be cut easily. Don’t forget that you can always cut more off, but once it is gone, you cannot undo it.
De-shedding is something that will naturally occur through the grooming process. If you do have a pooch that is shedding excess hair, you can take some more direct action to minimize this quickly.
The best course of action here is to wash your pooch with shampoo and conditioner that are high in water-soluble polymers – usually silicone. These are widely available in pet stores, often marked as ‘anti-shed’ products.
Once the dog’s coat has been washed and conditioned, you need to give your dog a blowout session, using a blow dryer in the highest setting possible. A good grooming routine will often negate the need to de-shed, as a dog’s body temperature is often delicately maintained. This, however, is how to do it if you need to blast out a lot of hair at once.
Bathing can be a challenging experience, depending on how big your furry friend happens to be, and how boisterous they are feeling. We would always recommend that you give your dog a bath outside, even if your pooch is pretty chill.
Washing your pet’s coat too often isn’t recommended, as it is designed with natural oils that keep it healthy and clean. With this being said, a monthly bath or a wash when your dog is particularly dirty is something you should consider.
When you bathe your dog, you wash away the natural oils that help to protect it from dry skin or dried-out hair. It can take 3 days for these oils to be replenished, which is why you shouldn’t bathe your dog too often.
When you do bathe the dog, fill a container with lukewarm water, so that it reaches the dog’s knees. Your pooch won’t be looking for a bubble bath to soak in, so you won’t need loads of water to wash them. If the dog is filthy, you may need a little more warm water.
In terms of products, make sure that you use a probiotic dog shampoo, as these are the kindest to your dog’s coat and your dog’s skin. If you cannot find a 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner, don’t forget to purchase a conditioner separately.
When buying a doggy conditioner, focus on getting one that is rich in coconut oil or essential fatty acids that won’t cause skin irritation. This will also ensure that your dog’s coat shines and shimmers just as you want.
Apply the recommended amount of shampoo and ensure that it is 100% washed out before you add the conditioner. Before you finish bathing your dog, make sure that they have no leftover soap suds or products in their coat. This can lead to itchy skin and cause damage to the dog’s coat, especially in breeds with long hair.
Brushing sessions are an important part of dog grooming and something you should aim to do at least 3 or 4 times per week. If able, pet owners are encouraged to do this every day.
Regular brushing will not only keep your pooch looking great, but it will also help to pull off any excess hair. This will minimize how much hair is shed throughout your home.
There is a range of equipment that you can use when brushing your dog. Most brushes will work on all dogs, but some are designed specifically for different types of coats.
For those with long hair and double-coated breeds, a pin brush is best because it will remove loose hair with ease without pulling at the dog’s skin. For those with medium and short-haired dogs, bristle brushes are the best option for your dog’s fur.
Another dog brush worth considering is a slicker brush, designed for breaking up matted hair and removing dead hair. When you groom your dog with a brush, it is important to follow a similar pattern each time.
Begin at the dog’s head and brush backward, this will leave the dog looking great and help to remove all dirt and excess fur. Be careful around your dog’s ears, as some brushes can irritate this sensitive area.
Finally, you must brush deep into the coat, right down to the dog’s body. This encourages blood circulation, removes any dead skin, prevents the build-up of dry skin, and gives your furry friend a nice massage at the same time.
A dog’s nails do require your attention, to prevent them from getting too long and from growing awkwardly. Historically your dog’s nails would be shaved down as they roamed through the wild, but since we have domesticated them, they need our help to keep them in shape.
It is vitally important that you don’t let your dog’s nails get too long, as they can affect the dog’s gait, which can lead to further issues with its bones. Long nails can be painful for your pooch, and they can even hurt themselves when scratching.
As a general rule, if you can hear the nails making a sound as the dog walks, it’s time to get the nail clippers out. When cutting overgrown nails you must remember to use specially designed clippers, and not human nail clippers.
The most important reason to use these products is that they apply the right amount of force for a clean cut, which human clippers can’t do. Additionally, they have safety guards, that prevent you from trimming nails too short.
If nail trimming is something that you don’t feel comfortable with, or if they show any signs of concern like dark nails, take your pooch to the pros. Trimming nails is most often included in professional grooming sessions.
It is always a good idea to check the paw pads of your dog during a grooming session. There isn’t much to do here by way of maintenance, but you should be on the lookout for any cuts or damage, or excessive cracking of the paw pads.
It is important to trim the hair in between the dog’s toes, to prevent any matted fur from building up. There are several grooming tools that you could use here and a simple paw pad clipper blade is the best option. This is a safe tool to use that will easily cut away at the hair in between the paws.
You should look to clean your dog’s ears once a month, to keep them both clean and protected. When you regularly groom your dog, it is worth checking the ears, to ensure that there are no foreign objects or injuries, but only clean them every month.
To clean your dog’s ears all you need is some mineral oil, and cotton balls or swabs. When cleaning the ear, be sure that you do not attempt to clean inside, but rather around the hole of the ear.
This is very much the same as when humans clean their ears, making sure not to enter the ear and risk damage. If you think there’s too much hair growth inside the ear, that there is a strange smell, or if you spot an injury, see your vet before taking action.
There are no real grooming tips when it comes to your pooch’s nose, just make sure that there are no injuries or growths in the area. What you will learn through regular grooming sessions is exactly what your dog’s nose and nostrils look like. This will help you identify any changes in size or shape, should they encounter any problems.
With regards to your dog’s eyes, the key is making sure that you don’t cause irritation as you wash the rest of the dog. This is why you should always use dog conditioner and shampoo, as they are kind if they do get into the dog’s eyes.
What you could do every month is give your pooch a couple of drops of mineral oil in their eyes. This will help to lubricate the area and help to force out any dust or dirt that may be stuck around the eyes.
Examining and cleaning your dog’s teeth is an important part of dog grooming. This can be troublesome if you have a big dog, although practice does make perfect.
To clean your dog’s teeth be sure that you first have the right tools for the job. Human products have no place here, you will instead need to get a dog toothbrush and toothpaste.
Dog owners should speak with the vet to see how firm the toothbrush needs to be. This will depend on both the breed of dog and its age. A young puppy, for example, may need a much softer bristle than an older dog.
If you have just started with at-home grooming, you need to get your pooch used to the toothpaste first. Place a small dab on your finger and let them smell and taste it.
Repeat the process with some toothpaste on the toothbrush, gradually getting the dog used to the taste and feel. When brushing the dog’s teeth you need to start slowly but ensure you get to all corners of the mouth.
If the dog doesn’t like it, you can do it little by little, coming back later to clean the other side. As well as brushing the teeth when you groom your dog, you can also use chew toys designed at improving dental health.
How Long Does It Take To Groom a Dog?
Grooming a dog shouldn’t take too long, mainly because your dog will get bored and start making it difficult for you. You really shouldn’t spend more than an hour on your dog, and in many cases, you will need less time than that.
Long-haired breeds may need more time than short-haired breeds, to get through all of that hair. In either case, if you are consistent with your grooming habits, you will need to spend less time going forward.
Many dogs have 30-minute sessions a couple of times a week, and that is all they need to stay in tip-top shape.
When To See A Professional Groomer
It is worth remembering that you can always go and see a professional groomer if you need to. It may be that you want your dog groomed in a certain way, or perhaps to get some tips on how to cut the dog’s toenails.
If you make a mistake that hasn’t hurt your dog, but perhaps looks bad, take them to the professionals to help clean things up.
How Much Does it Cost to Groom a Dog?
Most grooming sessions will include a wash, haircut, teeth cleaning, and a once-over with the nail trimmers. In terms of cost, it depends on where you live. This is much the same as when humans look for a haircut.
If your vet clinic has a grooming arm we would certainly recommend that you use it. This will offer you great service at competitive prices.
Prices can range from $30 up to as much as $90 at a salon. Before you use a service, make sure that you have done lots of research and found a place that is going to look after your pup.
If you do plan to take care of this yourself, there will be some basic set-up fees for grooming tools, as well as products to wash the dog. You will be able to get all you need for under $100, and this can last you for at least 6 months.
Once you have learned how best to groom your dog, through practice, you will start to understand your dog so much better. This is critical for examining your pup’s fur, or their eyes and ears, to identify issues early on.
Despite what many say about dogs being self-sufficient, our pooches do need grooming to stay healthy. For dogs, nails, teeth, and fur all need extra care, and regular grooming will do just that.
If you have multiple dogs, the easiest option will be to take care of them on the same day. This, however, may be very challenging for you, given the effort that grooming sometimes needs. If you do groom your dogs on separate days, make sure that you do it in the same order each time, so that your dogs have that all-important consistency.