How to Groom Your Dog at Home Between Professional Groomings
Your dog looks so beautiful after a session with its doggy hair stylist. But going to the groomer constantly can get expensive, so it’s a good idea to learn how to keep up that freshly groomed look at home. This can be a great bonding experience for you and your dog as your dog will feel like it is getting special attention from you during grooming sessions. Additionally, maintaining grooming practices between professional sessions can help you keep an eye on any potential problems—like mats—so you can fix an issue before it turns into something bigger.
Gathering the Necessary Supplies
Get advice from the groomer.Talk to your groomer about which grooming tools are best suited for your pet's coat and skin. The long, thick coat of a Collie demands a totally different brush from that of the Labrador. Many breeds require more than one style of brush to do the complete job. Different dogs may require different types of shampoo or conditioner, as well.
- Your groomer can also recommend other ways that you can help maintain the groomed effect in between professional grooming sessions.
Purchase some dog shampoo.In order to do your grooming at home, you’ll need to buy some shampoo that is specially formulated for use on canines. Never use human shampoo on your dog.
- You can purchase canine shampoo that focuses on different issues too—like flea prevention, sensitive skin, brittle coats, or puppy formulas.
- You can buy dog shampoo from most pet stores, veterinary offices, grocery stores, and online retailers that sell pet supplies.
Buy hair clippers.One of the most important items you will need to maintain most grooming styles at home is a hair clipper. Dog clippers have more teeth than human hair clippers, so they are better suited to cutting a dog’s thicker coat. You can find a variety of options for clippers at any pet store.
- Not all dogs should have their coats trimmed. Some breeds, like Border Collies, have double coats that keep them cool in the summer and warm in the winter. These coats should not be cut with hair trimmers as they may not be as effective and full when they grow back.
- When purchasing your clippers, you’ll be able to choose between corded and cordless options. A cordless clipper will give you a greater range of movement, but they may have less power than the corded varieties.
- Ask your vet or groomer for advice about whether it is appropriate to clip your dog’s coat.
Get nail trimming tools.Purchase some nail trimmers for your dog’s nails. Buy some styptic powder or another kind of clotting powder as well, in case you accidentally cut the nails too short and they bleed (however, take great care to avoid this, as it is very painful for your dog). There are several different styles of trimmers you can purchase, depending on what your dog’s specific needs are. The different types of trimmers include:
- Guillotine-style clippers. These are the easiest kind to use and are especially effective for small breeds.
- Pliers-style clippers. There are usually better for larger breeds of dogs.
- Scissors-style clippers. These are best for longer nails that have not been trimmed in a while.
Purchase a dog brush and/or comb.Brush or comb your dog regularly to keep its coat clean and free of matted or knotted hair. Buy a brush intended for use on dogs and use it at least once every 2 days.Ask your vet or groomer to recommend brushes and combs that work well with your dog’s coat type.
- Brushing is important for dogs with all types of coats. Even shorthaired dogs can benefit from regular brushing.
- There are many different types of dog brushes. The most common type is a curry brush, which typically has rubber (sometimes plastic) teeth. These are good for dogs that shed a great deal.
- For dogs that shed an enormous amount (like German Shepherds), you may want to invest in a shedding blade. This is a rounded metal blade with dull teeth on it that is used to remove dead hair still embedded in the dog’s thick coat. It is considered a type of brush as it does not actually cut the hair.
Obtain some dog ear cleaning solution.Dogs’ ears should be cleaned regularly to maintain good health. It is especially important to clean the ears any time your dog swims or takes a bath, since moisture can get trapped in the ears and lead to infection. Ear cleaning solution for dogs is available in most pet supply stores and vets’ offices.
Grooming Your Dog
Prepare the grooming area.Once you have the proper tools, find a spot to do the grooming in your home that will be comfortable for you and your dog. Try to elevate your pet to protect your back. But make sure you find a place in your house where you can minimize the mess, like the bathroom or outside in the garage.
- A small breed can be placed on top of a washer or dryer or even a counter, if you place a rubber mat down to give them secure footing. Look for a "sink mat" in your local drugstore.
- Never leave your dog unattended on an elevated surface, even if the surface is not slippery.
Praise your dog.Armed with the correct tools and a good grooming spot, grab your dog and get to work. Make this a fun, pleasant experience for both of you by talking to your dog, petting it, and praising it.
- You can even use treats to show your dog that you appreciate its behavior when it acts correctly. If your dog is being very good during the grooming process, give it a treat and lots of verbal praise as a positive reward.
Brush your dog.Before you bathe your dog, give it a good once over with the dog brush. Shorthaired dogs often shed more than the longhaired breeds. With a firm hand, brush with the grain of the hair growth to dislodge loose fur, dirt, and dander. Be sure to praise your dog and keep it fun.
- If your dog has a long, thick coat, it is easier to do the brushing in sections. Lift the top layer and secure with hair clips or clothespins to keep it out of your way so you can begin brushing underneath.
- With gentle pressure, place your free hand against the dog's skin where the hair is attached. This helps relieve any pulling on the skin from mats or snags you might run into. Brush in a downward motion.
- When it seems like the brush is going through the coat smoothly, repeat with a comb and move on to the next section.
- With a large dog, it may be better to tackle a different section each day in order to keep it fun.
- If you plan on bathing your dog,neverbathe first. Always brush out mats or "undercoat" before getting your pet wet. If you don't, the water tends to "set" the extra coat, making mats and tangles even more difficult to remove later.
Bathe your dog.Use the dog shampoo to give your dog a bath and get its coat nice and clean. Depending on the size of your dog, you can use a bathtub or shower, a hose outside, or even the kitchen sink to bathe your dog.
- Rinse your dog with water to get its coat nice and damp, then lather in the dog shampoo. Rinse your dog’s coat thoroughly to get all of the soap out.
- Then towel dry your dog to get rid of any excess water.
- You can either let your dog air dry at this point or use a hair dryer if your dog will tolerate the noise. Make sure to use the cool setting on the blow dryer.
Clean your dog’s ears.Following the instructions on the package, put an appropriate amount of dog ear cleaning solution in your dog’s ear. Gently massage the base of the ear between your thumb and index finger to work the solution into the ear canal. Allow your dog to shake its head to dislodge loose debris and cleaning solution, then gently wipe the inside of your dog’s ear with a cotton ball. Repeat on the other ear.
- Avoid putting your cotton ball or any other cleaning tools into your dog’s ear canal. Instead, wipe the area around the outside of the ear canal.
- This process can get messy, especially once your dog starts shaking its head. You may wish to clean your dog’s ears outside or in an area that is easy to wipe down.
- Check your dog’s ears for any signs of infection, such as discharge, redness, swelling, or foul odors.
Cut your dog’s nails.To cut your dog’s nails, hold the nail clippers in the palm of your hand and use your fingers to manipulate the moveable pieces that control the trimming. Bring the clippers to the dog’s paw from underneath (never clip from above) and put the nail into the hole in the clippers. Squeeze the clippers quickly so that they make a swift cut. Do this to each nail.
- Be sure to only cut the tip of the nail, not the part that contains live tissue (the quick). The quick is only visible on dogs with light-colored nails, so use caution. Cutting the quick is painful for your dog, and may cause your dog to fear having its nails trimmed.
- Keep an anti-coagulant powder on hand in case you do cut one too short. Cornstarch or flour will also do the trick.
- This can be a tricky skill to master, but it can help in avoiding a myriad of problems. Nails that get too long and begin to curl are not only uncomfortable for your dog, but can snag on rugs, blankets, etc.
- They can also get torn off and infected or make it difficult, or even painful, for your dog to walk properly.
Managing Potential Problems
Decide if you can safely groom your dog.Some dogs become fearful or aggressive during grooming. If your dog has a tendency to get agitated or lash out when it is groomed, do not attempt to groom the dog yourself. Instead, wait until you can see a professional groomer or vet. Grooming should be a pleasant, safe, and positive experience for both you and your dog.
Prevent dental issues.Since dental problems can be traumatic for dogs – even requiring anesthesia to fix relatively minor issues – it’s important to maintain dental health. This will help your dog’s teeth to remain bright, white, and shiny to add to the freshly groomed look.While some dental health problems in dogs are hereditary, others can be prevented with proper care.
- Give your dog chew toys that are intended for dental care. These treats will help protect your dog’s teeth and gums over time.
- Additionally, choose to give your dog dry dog food instead of wet. The process of chewing the hard kibbles helps cleanse your dog’s teeth every time it eats.
- You can also try brushing your dog’s teeth with a double-headed toothbrush and toothpaste specifically formulated for dogs. Do not use human toothpaste as it contains fluoride, which can be toxic for dogs.
- Have your veterinarian inspect your dog’s teeth at their yearly vet checkup. Your vet may recommend some other type of dental care for your pup.
Check your dog for health problems during grooming.Grooming is a great opportunity to give your dog a general wellness check. Check your dog’s skin and fur for signs of irritation, dryness, or fleas. Look for wounds or cracked skin on the paw pads and between the toes. Examine the insides of the ears for discharge, redness, swelling, or bad odors. If you notice any issues, make an appointment with your vet.
Video: How to Groom Your Dog 🐶 at Home (Morkie Grooming)
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