Last Updated/Info Checked on February 21, 2023 by Linda Michaels
You can groom your dog at home unless it competes in a vanity show. That’s when professional grooming comes into play because the dog needs to look its best. They are evaluated based on their haircuts, cleanliness, and other factors.
Let’s put that aside for the time being and learn some DIY dog grooming with this guide and expert tips. Who is the expert, you ask? I am.
To groom your dog,
- Use the right tools
- Go for regular brushing
- Bathe every four to six weeks
- Trim the hair if necessary
- Clip or trim the nails
- Regularly check the ears
- Brush their teeth
What Is The Correct Way To Groom A Dog For Beginners?
For a beginner like you, the first step is understanding what you’re doing. Grooming involves using sharp tools on the pet. For one thing, it should be calm enough for you to do it, and for another, you should be able to control its movements in between.
If you are unable to complete all of these tasks, reconsider your decision. I’d never recommend doing your own grooming, especially if you have a 2 or 4-month-old puppy.
Assuming you’ve followed all of the safety precautions and are comfortable with shears, scissors, combs, and the like, here are 7 steps to grooming a dog at home.
7 Steps Of Grooming A Dog
1. Use The Right Tools
You could either waste time looking for items to properly groom the dog or you could save time by keeping everything nearby. I use a collection of tools to make bathing, clipping, brushing, and other grooming chores easier. That’s necessary when you have a skittish dog.
- Purchase shower attachments to gain more control over washing.
- Look for 2-in-1 attachments, such as a shower with a comb, to make it easier to rinse and comb at the same time.
- At home, slicker brushes will suffice. Look for a product that can be used in a variety of situations. Make sure the bristle length is correct. They should be sized appropriately for your dog. For small dogs, use small bristles and vice versa!
- A dog grooming table may seem excessive, but it is useful.
- Avoid using cheap clippers and shears; instead, spend more money on professional-grade equipment for snap cutting.
- Buy a dog nail clipper.
2. Go for Regular Brushing
Brushing frequency varies according to breed. Short-haired dogs such as Dalmatians do not require daily brushing, so it’s fine to do that once a week or every other week. Long-haired breeds, such as Golden Retrievers and Great Pyrenees, must be brushed daily to prevent mat formation.
Matted hair is bad news for any dog. A mat acts as a storage space for twigs, leaves, or dirt – all the things that cause an itch. As a result of the pain as well as irritability, your dog may begin to bite the irritated area.
3. Bathe Every Four To Six Weeks
A bath removes dirt from your dog’s fur. However, doing that every day will dry out the natural oils residing at the ends of the hair. The story goes as follows: dryness causes itching, itching causes the dog to bite that spot, and so on.
Even when bathing your pet, avoid using baby shampoos or your regular shampoo.
Some owners just want to get on with it. They seek whether they could use laundry detergent to wash their dogs. It makes me sick just thinking about it. These detergents have compounds that have an adverse effect on the well-being of the dog’s skin.
4. Trim The Hair If Necessary
Trim the dog’s hair from its eyes, paws, and tail between visits to a professional groomer. With time, you’ll learn to do it with ease, and who knows, you may not have to go to the groomer at all. They demand large sums of money, which can be avoided.
Here’s how to go about it.
- Trim the hair from the eyes to let the dog see well.
- Make sure your pet is super calm because any accident won’t look good.
- Use sharp scissors to snip the hair in one go.
- Trim the hair present inside the dog’s ears. Doing that will discourage dampening of the inner ear and, thus, any infection.
Trimming and shaving are not the same things. Some dog owners prefer to shave their dogs in the summer. That’s perfectly fine if you know what you’re doing and a veterinarian recommends it. Certain breeds, however, should never be shaved. Golden retrievers, Great Pyrenees, German Shepherds, Huskies, and other double-coated dogs should only be trimmed.
They have an undercoat that serves as insulation and keeps the skin healthy. Removing it will result in dryness, temperature regulation issues, and a slew of other problems.
5. Clip or Trim The Nails
When walking on a hard surface, your dog makes that annoying clicking sound because its nails are too long.
- If you must do it yourself, use nail clippers with sharp blades.
- Take the dog’s paw in your hand and run the clippers across its fur to make it more comfortable.
- Now, quickly cut the part before that pinkish quick. You don’t want to cut it because there’s flesh beneath the nail. Any injury to it will result in bleeding. Cut 2 mm before the pinkish line to provide a safe clipping distance between the nail and the quick.
- After you’ve finished, give the dog treats to praise and comfort it.
- Avoid panic and use styptic pills to stop bleeding if you nick the quick.
6. Regularly Check the Ears
Water can cause infection in the ears, so it’s best to use a gentle ear cleaning solution instead.
- Dip a cotton swab into the liquid.
- Gently scrape off the wax.
- Even if the ears are clean, look for signs of infection such as redness, swelling, outgrowth, and so on.
- Although the ears may not require cleaning with an agent on a daily basis, they should be checked for any signs of harm.
7. Brush Their Teeth
Keep your pet away from periodontal diseases by brushing their teeth regularly, but only if you use pet toothpaste. Toothpaste and toothbrushes designed for humans are not something I endorse.
- Allow the dog to lick the toothpaste off the floor so it can become accustomed to the taste.
- Get it comfortable by rubbing the brush on its mouth and letting it smell or lick it.
- When brushing, start by gently opening the mouth from behind, lifting the jaws, and cleaning.
- If your dog begins to chew the brush, immediately stop and give the “stop” command.
- Do not brush vigorously because it may hurt the gums.
- Brushing isn’t a one-off activity, so let the dog warm up. It may take some days.
How To Make Grooming Enjoyable for Your Pet?
Given that a dog has the mental capacity of a two-year-old human child, it is important to constantly praise and reward good behavior when it comes to grooming.
Here’s how to make the deed enjoyable for them so they don’t make a fuss.
- 1. Go at the pace of the dog; you don’t want to scare the pet by hurrying and scurrying.
- 2. Purchase an anti-slip mat to avoid slipping accidents in the tub.
- 3. Scatter some treats on the ground to keep them occupied while bathing or brushing their teeth.
- 4. Reward the dog for remaining calm by using positive reinforcement.
- 5. If the dog doesn’t obey, don’t use force or reprimands; let it relax before trying again.
How Do You Groom A Dog’s Face?
Grooming your dog’s face requires special care. Since it’s the most sensitive part of any being, the dog may try to escape the moment you bring the scissors closer.
To avoid that, follow these steps.
Step 1: Use small, sharp scissors to snip the hair all at once.
Step 2: Familiarize him with the tools you’ll be using by rubbing the scissors and comb on his face to make him feel at ease with them.
Step 3: When he’s comfortable, snip some hair to show that it’s not going to hurt him in any way.
Step 4: Remove the hair from around his eyes to make his vision clearer, then work around the nose and forehead.
Step 5: Remove snipped hair with a soft brush and stop immediately if the dog moves at any point.
Step 6: Trim the frock by first brushing it down to expose long strands. Then, take the scissors and trim all of them. You could begin in the middle and work your way to the sides, following the contours of the dog’s face. Try to blend in from all angles so that it looks uncluttered and neat.
Step 7: Reward the dog by giving him treats or allowing him to do his favorite thing without intervention.
Things to Avoid When Grooming A Dog’s Face
Accidents can happen at any time and on any day. We have some control over preventing them from happening. Here, taking extra caution and care are under your control.
With that, avoid these things.
1. The cut doesn’t have to be perfect because you’re not a professional groomer. The goal is to improve the pup’s vision or to remove any matted hair. So, instead of doing things by the book, enjoy the process.
2. Refrain from grooming the dog when it’s hyperactive. Dogs often go crazy and try to escape with all their might. That could be a recipe for disaster.
3. Do not start right after holding the dog. Without proper training, he may explode at any moment during the grooming process. Keep in mind that canines thrive on routine. They are easily led astray into mass hysteria by anything out of the ordinary.
Do not shave a double-coated dog down to the skin, as this will cause more harm than good.
5. Using blunt tools will make the process hard for you and the pup. Not to mention, the dog will end up looking like a shredded chicken.
6. Do not groom your dog in front of other pets, as it may make them anxious. They might step in to stop the “carnage” they’re witnessing.
7. Do not cut too deeply with the shears or scissors. Cut with their tips to avoid accidents when the dog moves.
8. Do not rush things. Depending on your dog’s personality, grooming could last several days.
9. Lastly, ears are delicate on the inside. A small amount of water, such as a drop, could potentially spread an infection that would be difficult to treat. So, avoid washing the insides of an ear. It’s better to cordon them off or cover them when bathing the dog. You may want to avoid washing the face altogether and use a damp cloth to clean it.
Do You Groom Dogs Wet Or Dry?
Grooming has many steps or stages, and you read about them above. Some of them are better off when done after bathing the dog, while others work best on dry hair.
1. Brush After Bathing
Although following the right order isn’t necessary, you could avoid all the fuss of brushing dry hair by doing that right after bathing the dog. This will allow you to get rid of all the dirt in the bath and then remove broken or extra hair that has been loosened as a result. Not to mention, your dog would also like the convenience of having its wet hair brushed.
2. Trim After Drying
You may have seen professional groomers trimming or cutting our hair when wet. Since you aren’t one, wrapping your head around that will take months. Trimming dry hair is, therefore, the right way to go for you. It will save you from snipping it in the wrong way, as you’ll get a sense of where the strands lead when they are dry.
3. Cut Nails After Bathing
As I explained above, a dog’s nail has two parts: The clear one that grows, and the pink one called quick. If your dog’s fond of moving around in the dirt, finding that quickly may become a little harder. So, give it a good bath and when the nails are clean, complete the job. I know you can’t give it a bath every day, but you can clean the nails when required.
4. Make Brushing Their Teeth A Habit
We all brush our teeth regularly regardless of taking a bath. The same goes for your pet. Incorporate it into their routines and follow the steps I shared to do it well.
Do You Brush The Dog With The Hair Or Against it?
Brushing the dog against the hair will irritate them. Doing that in summer will cause static electric charges to build, which could send the animal into a frenzy. Therefore, use firm brushstrokes in the direction of the hair growth to make brushing less of a pain for the dog.
Doing that will also help you remove all the tangled hair or mats easily. Going against hair growth may exacerbate these nuances further.
Also, do not put a lot of pressure on the shedding blade or the slicker brush. Undue pressure would dig the tool deeper into the skin, thus, causing irritation, redness, or swelling.
What Is The Most Important Thing To Remember When Grooming A Dog?
The most important thing to remember is that your dog is alive and could be moody when you bring those sharp tools near. It will growl, whine, or show agitation if it doesn’t like what you’re doing. Always listen to those cues and act accordingly. Going on the full throttle without realizing what the dog is going through may lead to a regrettable accident.
Having said that, do not leave the dog unattended at any stage.
How Often Should You Groom Your Dog?
Grooming should have a frequency that does not apply to one thing. In fact, it could be different for different parts.
- Brush the dog’s hair twice a day. Use a proper slicker brush and be gentle about it.
- Dogs have natural oils on their skin that get washed out with every bath. Therefore, bathe yours every four to six weeks and more than this. The oils get replenished in that period.
- A dog’s hair growth depends on its breed, diet, and overall health. Typically, you should go for a haircut or trim every 10 to 12 weeks. But as I said, your dog may need a haircut more frequently. Make sure to not overdo it to refrain from frustrating your dog.
Can I Over Groom My Dog?
An excess of everything is bad. This applies to grooming as well. Overgrooming may sound like an ideal way to clean an overly active dog, but it will have some repercussions.
Skin irritation is one of them. The brushes we use for our pets are not the same ones we use for ourselves. They have different bristles. Some are overturned to dig deeper and pull out extra hair, while others have sharp edges meant to remove tangles.
Since these brushes are hard on the hair, overgrooming could also lead to hair loss.
The same goes for overbathing the dog. Their shampoos may not have enough soap as ours, but it’s still enough to cause irritation, allergies, and hair loss.
Dog Grooming Guide and Tips – Wrapping Up
Grooming should be a fun activity for both of you. However, it takes a lot to make it like that, starting from bathing, cutting or trimming hair, brushing teeth, cutting nails, brushing hair, and checking ears. Follow all the safety protocols and incorporate positive reinforcement. You should be good to go!