Grooming your dog yourself can be challenging but it can also be a bonding experience that builds trust. Some dogs might feel nervous or uncomfortable with the fast pace and noise of a professional groomers. You can alleviate some of that stress by dog grooming at home.
As well as being a (hopefully) fun and bonding experience, you can also save a lot of money. Professional groomers can often be pricey and if you want to save a bit of cash or don’t have the time to take you pet to the salon then dog grooming at home could be the answer.
You will need this equipment to groom
You don’t need to buy specialised pet clippers, any style of clippers will work fine. Pet clippers tend to be priced more expensively but aren’t any better than a normal, cheap pair of clippers.
If you can find a pair of clippers that can be sharpened it will extend the lifespan of the clippers.
When humans use clippers they usually use plastic guards to clip at a longer length. These tend to snag in longer hair coats so are less useful in pets.
You will need a sharp pair of scissors for the fiddly areas that clippers can’t easily get to.
A good, sturdy brush is essential, a specialised comb is helpful for matted dogs and most importantly, treats for your patient pooch!
If you are considering home nail trimming then you will also need nail trimmers, either plier or scissor style depending on nail size.
Clipping your dog’s coat
If you are trying to clip for the first time, having someone to hold your dog is ideal. It will keep them steady and make them feel more secure for this new experience.
Save yourself from bending down and getting a sore back by always using an elevated table to clip from.
If your dog struggles to sit or stand still you may even need an apparatus to hold the dog in place or to clip the collar to.
Clipping on the kitchen table can be a great way to keep your dog from moving, but make sure you put a non-slip mat on the table first.
Every 6-8 weeks is an ideal clipping frequency for dogs with continuously growing coats.
In winter, clip a little less and in summer, more. If your dog has a long coat consider clipping the belly in summer so your dog can cool down by lying on the ground.
Brushing is essential for healthy hair and skin
Brushing your dog not only removes the loose fur and helps with shedding, but it also stimulates the skin and helps with circulation.
If you have a long haired dog, brushing is especially important. Brushing the fur will also help to prevent mats and tangles
For dogs that have badly matted hair, sometimes using the clippers can be very painful. It may be necessary to de-mat first using a specialised comb and extra brushing.
How to wash and dry your pooch
After brushing is the perfect time for a bath. It is helpful to place a cotton ball inside the dog’s ears before bathing. This will keep the ears dry and help to prevent ear infections.
Bathing every four weeks is recommended for normal dogs. If they are particularly active (and therefore more muddy) consider more frequent baths.
The pH balance of human shampoo means it should never be used on dogs as it is harmful to their skin. Using it can lead to skin irritations and rashes.
Specially formulated pet shampoos are available from all pet shops. Don’t forget about conditioner too for a shiny coat. Two-in-one shampoo and conditioners are helpful to reduce bath time.
After the bath, drying is essential. Air drying is best but be careful of the heat from a hair dryer on your dog’s skin.
If they are particularly nervous of the hairdryer introduce them gently and use treats as positive reinforcement. You could try half hair-drying and half towel drying until they are confident enough with the hairdryer.
Teeth brushing is important
Maintaining your dog’s oral health is also important. Teeth brushing should happen at least twice a week, as much as possible. Brushing your dog’s teeth will keep their breath fresh and will help to avoid gum disease.
Never use human toothpaste. Your local pet store will have ‘tasty’ toothpaste flavors like beef, chicken or peanut butter. Give your dog a small sample of the toothpaste to introduce them to the taste.
Lift the lip to expose the outside surfaces of your dog’s gums and teeth and, with a moist, soft-bristle brush, gently clean the teeth and gums, as you would your own.
Your dog may not let you clean the inside of the teeth so be sure to clean the outside (cheek-facing) teeth as best you can. It’s important to get all the way back to the upper molars and canines as tartar can build up here.
Take extra care when nail trimming
Nail trimming is the one aspect of grooming where you may consider getting a professional to do it. It is possible, and even easy, if you know what you are doing but can be painful to dogs if done wrong and you may lose their confidence.
Most dog’s nails should be clipped every four weeks, using plier-style trimmers for larger, stronger nails and scissor-style trimmers for smaller nails.
A dog’s nail consists of a hard outer shell and a soft cuticle (quick) in the center. If the quick is cut, the nail will bleed and the dog will feel pain. Take care to familiarise yourself with the anatomy of your dog’s nail before cutting.
If your dog is nervous about trimming, play games with the paws and touch them often, keeping keep your demeanour upbeat and fun.
When it comes to trimming time it won’t be such a big deal and may even be enjoyable due to association with fun and games.