If you just bought a new dog or welcoming one into the family soon, you may have some questions about its care. While many dog owners would prefer to leave grooming practices such as the haircut for the professionals, it is something you can do with some practice. You can become an expert at cutting your dog’s hair even though your first few attempts may not be as good as the professional’s.
Grooming your dog yourself also fosters bonding and appreciation between you and your dog. Ready to learn how to groom your dog at home? Here we go!
Bathing Your Dog
Many dog owners go months without bathing their dogs. This shouldn’t be the case. While bathing them every week may not be possible; not bathing them at all is unhygienic for your dog and for you.
All dogs – short-haired or long-haired can enjoy a bath to remove accumulated filth and grease from their coats. Fortnightly baths should be your target at the very minimum.
If you must bathe your dog more frequently, be sure to use only a gentle shampoo made just for dogs. This is because dogs have a different pH from humans, and so human shampoo, even those formulated for babies, can still be harsh on them. Some great choices are hypoallergenic and oatmeal shampoos.
For long-haired dogs, ensure you detangle and brush before the bath. Water naturally makes tangles worse even with a good conditioner, especially when you’re not a professional or just learning the ropes.
Prepare all you need before you start the bath, and this should include cotton balls for your dog’s ear canals to prevent water from getting in.
If you’re bathing your dog indoors in your sink or bathtub, you should place a mat or towel to give it some traction as the slippery feeling from those surfaces can disturb your dog.
Use only lukewarm water and avoid hot baths. Dogs are different; they do not enjoy hot baths the same way we do. You can also attach a flexible sprayer to eliminate the hassle of using a cup.
Get your dog wet with some water and start at their back end. Work forward towards their head – do this instead of spraying water and scrubbing from their face.
Be careful with the shampoo. Most shampoos contain chemicals that can damage your dog’s eyes once they get into them. Even as you rinse it out, be careful too. To be on the safe side, it is advisable to put a bit of saline solution in your dog’s eyes after every bath to rinse out any shampoo that may have entered.
You can even get a special shampoo for your dog’s face. However, this one should be super-gentle on the face and soften any stubborn eye gunk.
Rinse your dog thoroughly. You don’t want flakes or skin irritation from missing a few spots in your dog.
We strongly recommend drying with a towel but if you use a hairdryer, make to use only the cool setting. Dogs differ from us in a lot of ways; they can easily overheat and also dry out their skin.
How to Shave a Dog
First, make sure your dog is dry before you begin. It is alright if you make some mistakes on your few attempts; even the experts do.
Make sure your dog is still and free from distraction. Moving dogs, clipper blades, and scissors can be a recipe for disaster if you’re not careful.
Start around the neck and work your way down her body as you press the clipper blades flat against the skin. You want to be careful when working on skin edges like the ears, armpits, and the areas connecting the back legs and the body. Most vets recommend using a No. 10 blade for sensitive areas like the underarms, face, and the private regions.
Clippers will get hot, so frequently check for heat as they can burn the skin. Your best chance against heat would be an attachment comb to help keep the blade away from your dog’s body. Also, keep a blade coolant handy and regularly touch the clipper’s blade to the inside of your forearm to check its hotness.
Go at it slowly. You don’t want to rush and cause injuries to your dog or you.
While grooming your dog at home will save you money and help you bond more with her, remember you can always contact the professional groomers if you’re in doubt of your ability.
After shaving, you will no doubt have a lot of shed hairs all over the area your dog was in. Check out the best broom for dog hair here to help make clean-up easier.
How to Trim Your Dog’s Nails
Before anything, first, get your pet used to the noise from the clippers or nail grinder. If your dog has white nails, clip them until you see the pink, and if your dog has black nails, clip gently until you see a solid black dot on the tip.
After use, close the clippers quickly. Closing slowly can blunt your clippers and cause chipping and splitting. If you’re using a nail grinder, make sure you don’t overdo and injure your dog. If on your first attempts you do, stop any bleeding with a styptic powder like the Kwik Stop.
How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
Most dogs have periodontal diseases or other dental problems by the time they are 3 years old. Gum diseases can be a serious problem. It can cause tooth loss, a broken jaw, abscesses, heart issues, and even death.
Try as often as possible to brush your dog’s teeth every day and if you’ve never done so before, start today.
To begin, let your dog sniff and lick the toothpaste first. (DO NOT use human toothpaste, not even kiddies toothpaste). Then, put some on your finger and rub on the outside of your dog’s teeth before scrubbing with a dog toothbrush.
If your dog refuses to let you brush her teeth, you can use dental sprays and tooth wipes instead of nothing. For these kinds of dogs also, it is recommended that you give them access to plenty of safe chewable such as toys and kibbles (don’t overfeed them).
Materials You Need For Grooming Your Dog
- A comb/brush/shedding blade (the latter depends on your dog’s coat)
- Grooming shears
- A grooming table with a grooming arm to secure your dog (do not leave her unattended at the table)
- Grooming clippers (preferably #10 to avoid cutting your dog’s skin)
- Clipper and blade coolant
- Nail clippers or a grinder
- Styptic powder (for nail bleed)
Grooming can be a rewarding and bonding experience for you and your dog. As you learn the basics and get better at them, you and your dog will look forward to grooming time. Expect your dog to be nervous at first but with treats and some practice, she will learn to trust you.
About the Author
Kirsten created The Pet Handbook with the aim of sharing her knowledge about pets, pet food, healthy habits, and more. All of her advice is based on years of her own experience with her pets, and feedback that she has received from grateful readers about her tips. If you want to know more please read the About Me page.