How to Groom Your Dog At Home
Updated: Apr 25
Cuddling up on the sofa with your dog can become a staple part of winding down for the night after a long day at work, and it’s even better when their coat is soft and clean. But what if your dog’s currently looking a bit overgrown and their fur needs a trim but, especially with COVID-19 and everywhere on lock down, you can’t get them to a groomer any time soon? You can try giving them a haircut at home with our guide on DIY Dog Grooming Tips!
Before you get started you’re going to need a few supplies and tools to make this process as smooth and easy as possible, such as:
- A comb, brush or shedding blade (this depends on the type of coat your dog has)
- A grooming table with a grooming arm to secure your dog to if you’re on your own here
- Clipper and blade coolant
- Grooming shears
Getting Started and the Benefits of Grooming
A lot of pet owners do actually groom their pets at home, however this level of trust between you and your dog, as well as the skill and precision of being able to effectively groom your dog is something that comes with time and experience for the both of you. By being able to groom your dog and have them remain calm though, means you’re developing a deep level of trust together.
Your dog has to be able to expect what’s going to happen meaning your behaviour will have to be reliable. Think of it as 90% prep and 10% actual grooming. Slowly build up to the actual grooming part by giving rewards as you get your dog more comfortable with physical contact wherever you’re going to have to groom. For example, your dog has to be used to being touched in sensitive spots before you go there with grooming clippers.
Bare in mind that your dog knows if you’re nervous, that in turn will make them nervous too which can lead to them trying to escape from you, or even become aggressive if they don’t trust that they are safe with you. If you’re dog is uncomfortable around you, don’t force it. Just tr another time when you’re both calmer. You can use this time to make sure you're using the right tools for your dogs coat too, just to double check its suitable.
To start the habits and procedures that benefit grooming your pup, start occasionally brushing your dog. Do this a few times a week for a few minutes at a time to get this behaviour into your dogs head as being a routine thing that happens. This will start to normalise the behaviour associated with a grooming session. In fact, regular brushing alone can do great things in the way of having a nicely groomed dog.
Brushing is a great way to keep your dog clean because it’s not a great idea to have your dog do a lot of bathing. If you are going to put your dog in the bath for a clean, it’s recommended to do some brushing first to get the heavy dirt out as putting a dirty dog in the bath before doing the brushing creates dirty water and you maintain the dirty dog. Be sure to use a sturdy brush that goes through their hairs easily to pull out a good amount of dirt. A shedding blade works well on short haired dogs too. By performing this step too, you’re also getting them used to that grooming behaviour especially if you keep them standing while you brush them - as you would when you’re properly grooming them.
When bathing your dog, use a higher-quality shampoo, as cheaper versions can have harsh ingredients and make the bathing procedure harsher on your dog than it needs to be. We also recommend diluting the shampoo too so that it’s easier to rinse out completely as well, this means you’re less likely to have chemicals sat on the fur still after the bath.
How to Cut a Dog’s Hair
Now that your dog is both brushed and washed this usually when you’d start giving them a trim. This should be worked up to however, don’t go for the trim the first time you start implementing a big brushing and bathing schedule. remember you’re slowly building up to this and building that trust because if your dog freaks out on you the first time you give them a hair cut, on the second attempt they'll associate that situation with a freak out again.
Always be sure your using the right equipment for the job. This is a good set of grooming scissors and professional shears or clippers. If you font know which length you want to cut your dogs fur too, be sure to start out at a larger sized blade and work your way down to an ideal length, rather than cutting too close to the skin on the first attempt. If you can afford it, purchase a grooming table too as this will help you manage your dog whilst also giving them a place to associate a hair cut with.
Unlike people, who get haircuts with wet hair, always start with a dry, clean dog and only use the tips of sharp shears to trim your dog’s feet, face and tail, which will prevent you from cutting your dog if they suddenly move. When trimming your dogs ears, always have one hand over the actual ear, using your own fingers as a guard so you don’t cut their actual ear.
If your dog’s fur is matted, never try to cut it with scissors as they can form quite close to the skin and you don’t want to risk jabbing or snipping their skin - use the clippers instead.
How to Safely Shave a Dog
Again, start with a dry, clean dog and find a quiet spot free of distractions. Using a sharp blade, start around your dog’s neck and work your way down the body, keeping the blade flat against the skin. This means you’ll be starting at a commonly interacted with location on your dogs body and they can get used to the feeling in a location they’ll have confidence in you with. Be careful around thin skin, underarms, hocks (thigh and hip) and where the stifle (the joint above the hock in the hind leg) meets the belly.
Do not allow these areas to enter the spaces on the blade. Check your blades often for heat as they can begin to heat up quicker than you’d expect. Cool the blade down when it’s too hot. You can test the temperature on a sensitive part of your arm such as your wrist - this gives you a more accurate response to the heat, the same way you’d check a baby's milk temperature before giving them the bottle! If you feel unsure about shaving your dog at home, consider leaving this step in the grooming process to the experts.
For nail clipping, we do recommend just leaving this to the experts.
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