How to Groom a Dog

As a dog owner, you may have many responsibilities in caring for the animal. One of those responsibilities is having the dog groomed on a regular basis. Although some dog owners may take their pet to the groomer and have it done professionally, others understand the benefits of grooming the dog at home.

If you would like to save money on grooming costs and skip out on the inconvenience of driving your dog to and from the groomer, doing it at home on your own is the best option available. Don’t worry; with a little guidance and practice, you can learn how to groom a dog easily. In fact, it won’t be long before you are seeing professional results.

Tools for Grooming a Dog at Home

Some dog owners shy away from grooming their pet at home out of concern over the cost of dog grooming supplies. Although there may be some things that are necessary for taking care of this process, the cost is negligible. In fact, it is likely that learning how to groom dogs at home will pay for itself within just a session or two.

The following are some of the most common tools that are necessary for grooming a dog. Some may be used for any type of dog, such as shampoo or a brush but others may be specific to certain breeds that require additional grooming. This is just a basic list to get you started. We will expand on each of these further on this page.

 – Brush
 – Comb
 – Dog shampoo
 – Toenail clippers
 – Styptic powder
 – Ear cleaning supplies
 – Dog toothbrush
 – Dog toothpaste
 – Electric clippers

One suggestion that I would have for you is to spend extra money on quality tools rather than trying to cut corners. As an example, a professional pair of clippers will last for a long time and will make the process much easier than a discount set of clippers. Don’t fall for labeling and advertising that makes cheap clippers look just as good as the professional option. Spend the extra money now and it will work for you for many years to come.

How to Brush Your Dog’s Coat

One of the most basic parts of learning how to groom your dog is learning how to care for their coat properly. Unlike other parts of the grooming process, such as caring for their toenails or clipping their coat, brushing the dog should take place on a regular basis. There are certain considerations for how to brush your dog or what type of brush to use, depending upon the dog’s coat.

Most dogs would benefit from a daily brushing but if you can only do it every few days or perhaps once a week, it will still be of benefit if you do it regularly. Brushing a dog regularly helps to remove excess dirt and keeps shedding to a minimum. It can also help to condition the coat because it spreads the natural oils that come off of the dog’s skin. Perhaps one of the best benefits is the fact that most dogs love having their hair brushed if you do it properly.

The following are some of the most common types of dog brushes:

Slicker Brush – This is a good, all-around brush for everyday use. It removes loose hair, detangles and is gentle on the dog.

Bristle Brush – If your dog has a wiry or short coat, these bristles will help to remove debris and loose hair.

Pin Brush – This brush has wire pins with rubber or plastic tips. It is good for silky, long coats.

Undercoat Rake – Similar to a pin brush, it works for heavy or double coated dogs.

Shedding Blade – This brush looks like a horseshoe with small teeth. It removes loose fur effectively.

Start brushing at the dog’s head and work your way back toward the tail. If your dog has multiple layers of fur, be sure that all layers are worked. While you’re brushing your dog, it’s a good opportunity to check for any ticks, fleas or any other problems with their skin. Enjoy this quality time with your dog.

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

As a part of learning help to groom a dog at home, you need to consider their dental health as well. This is something that most dog owners tend to neglect but it can lead to problems as the dog gets older. Some of those issues can be severe, including the formation of plaque, cavities and abscesses. In addition, a dog’s breath can get quite putrid when their teeth go bad.

If you have never brushed a dog’s teeth before, there’s no need to be overly concerned about the process. It is as easy as brushing your own teeth and with a little practice, you will find that the dog even enjoys it.

It is important to use toothpaste that is specifically formulated for dogs. Human toothpaste is not only something that your dog will dislike because of the taste; it can be harmful to their health. Human toothpaste contains fluoride, which is toxic to dogs. Look for dog toothpaste that is pH balanced and does not contain sugar.

There are a number of different types of toothbrushes available for dogs but one of the easiest is a rubber tip that slips over your index finger. Many people use this type of toothbrush to introduce their dogs to the process. You can continue to use it for the rest of your dog’s life if you find that it works well.

Cleaning Your Dogs Ears

One of the common problems that happen to dogs is in relation to their ears. Due to the nature of the ears, it is likely for ear infections to occur and a buildup of excess wax. Learning how to clean your dog’s ears at home is an important part of home dog grooming. It can take place prior to the time that the dog is bathed or on a schedule that works for your pet.

Cleaning your dog’s ears should be part of a preventative maintenance program. If any type of problem is evident with the ear, it should be discussed with the veterinarian. Ear problems can result in discomfort for the animal as well as the possibility for chronic diseases and loss of hearing.

You will need some cleaner that is specific for use in a dog’s ears. There are several available on the market and each of them may offer a different type of cleaning. Some may break up ear wax while others will work to dry the ear canal. Do not use products that you might consider using in your own ears, such as hydrogen peroxide, alcohol or vinegar.

You should also use gauze that is wrapped around the finger or cotton balls when cleaning your dog’s ears. The use of Q-tips could damage the sensitive lining of the dog’s ear and could potentially lead to infections and other problems.

Groom the areas around the dog’s ears and then begin the cleaning process. It is important to be gentle throughout the ear cleaning process, because damaging the inner ear of the dog could lead to additional problems. Lift the ear flap and put a small amount of cleaning solution into the ear canal. Begin massaging the dog’s ear at the base. If your dog experiences any pain during this process, a veterinarian should be consulted.

After allowing your dog to shake his head to clear the ear canals, use a cotton ball or gauze wrapped around your finger for removing loose wax and cleaning solution.

Bathing the Dog the Right Way

Most dog owners feel as if they have a pretty good handle on how to bathe the dog, but it is a good idea to review this information. Grooming a dog requires proper bathing and if you don’t do things properly, you could end up with a dog that has irritated skin.

You should also be sure to time the bathing process properly. Some people tend to bathe their dogs on a regular basis, perhaps even once a week or more. Although a quick bathing may be necessary if the dog gets into something, you should not necessarily judge the need to bathe the dog by the condition of their coat.

Dogs have natural oils that come off of their skin and cover the outer layer of their coat. This provides a protection for the dog’s coat and the oil also protects the skin from drying and damage. This type of oil can be clearly seen in some breeds of dogs that were bred for working in the water, such as Labrador retrievers. It is something that exists in all dogs, however, and you should not wash it off too frequently.

Some dogs are going to love getting bathed but others are going to fight you every step of the way. In either case, it is important to have the pets secured in the tub or basin and to provide them with a nonslip surface on which to stand. If your dog is not happy about being bathed, be sure to give them plenty of positive reinforcement throughout the process.

Do not use shampoo meant for humans when bathing your dog. This is perhaps one of the biggest problems that people run into. The shampoo that we tend to use will likely dry out your dog’s skin and can cause irritation that would be frustrating and uncomfortable for the dog for days or perhaps even weeks at a time. Choose a high quality dog shampoo that is properly pH balanced. If your dog has a reaction to the shampoo, consider switching to a more gentle formula.

Preparing the Dog – It is always best to give your dog a good brushing before they go into the tub. It helps to remove a lot of the problems that would make bath time a little more difficult. This could include excess fur that would otherwise clog the drain. You will also find tangles that are best removed prior to the time your dog is soaking wet.

Preparing the Area – Be sure that you have everything necessary for washing the dog on hand and within arm’s reach. Most dog owners know from experience, turning your back on a wet dog is always a bad idea. In some cases, they may end up shaking and covering the entire area with water. In other cases, they could jump out of the tub and go for a wet romp around the house.

Wetting the Dog – The dog should be completely soaked with water before you begin using any shampoo. Be sure that you get more than just the surface wet, work the water into the fur and the whole way down to the skin. Be sure that you pay attention to the extremities, including the area between the toes. Do not use either cold or hot water. The water should be mildly warm and very comfortable to the touch.

Shampooing the Dog – Begin by putting a barrier of shampoo around the dog’s neck, close to the head. The reason for this barrier is to stop any fleas or ticks that may be on the dog’s coat from running to the dog’s ears. Work your way down from the head of the dog toward the tail and down the legs to the feet. Continue to shampoo the dog until his entire body is soapy.

It will also be necessary to wash the dogs head and face, but special caution needs to be taken when doing so. You don’t want to get shampoo into the dog’s eyes and getting excess shampoo or water into the dog’s ears could cause problems. It requires a gentle approach but having a dog with a clean head and muzzle will make it a pleasure for you to get up close and personal with them after bath time.

Rinsing the Dog – One of the biggest problems that many people experience when grooming a dog at home is that they don’t rinse the dog properly. It is very important for you to get all of the shampoo off of the dog, the whole way down to the skin. The only way to ensure that you have all of the shampoo removed is to rinse the dog, rinse them again and then rinse them again. As long as you have the water at a comfortable, lukewarm temperature, you can continue to rinse them until you are more than satisfied that the shampoo is gone.

Have extra towels on hand for immediately after the rinsing process. If I could give you one dog grooming tip that would stand out above all others, this is it. Immediately after you rinse the dog, drape a towel over his back. This will keep the dog from shaking the water from his fur. Even if he does shake, it will stay contained inside of the towel rather than going everywhere.

Drying the Dog – The last step in the process of bathing your dog is to ensure that they are dry. It is important for them to be completely dry before they go out into the house or, most importantly, before they go outside. If your dog still has the shampoo smell on him, he will roll around in the grass on his back and undo everything that you just did.

Towel dry the dog gently as much as possible, beginning with the face, ears and feet. Some people prefer to use a blow dryer to dry the dog, but some dogs are afraid of the noise and it may not be the best choice for the situation. Blow dryers tend to heat up considerably and it could end up injuring or irritating the skin. There are some dryers that are specific for drying dogs, although it may be an expensive option for grooming a dog at home.

Sometimes, it’s best just to keep the dog in a warm area and blow air gently over him using a fan. As long as the dog does not get cold during the process, it can be a comfortable and sometimes even pleasurable experience for them.

Trimming Your Dog’s Nails

When learning how to groom your dog, one part of the process that is often considered to be most difficult is trimming the dog’s nails. It can be a difficult issue, not only for you but for the dog as well. Many dogs are concerned about you messing with their feet and they may fight you every step of the way. In addition, if you trim the dogs nails too short, you may have a problem with bleeding and it could make the dog frightened of having their nails trimmed.

Speak kindly to your dog during the nail trimming process. It may take some time for them to get used to the idea that you are doing something with the paws, but with time and effort on your part, it is possible.

It is best if you use a high quality nail trimmer that is shaped like scissors. You don’t need an extra-large pair unless you have one of the largest dog breeds. The scissor style trimmers give you better control over what you’re doing. Be sure that you keep them sharp or replace them when necessary.

Hold your dog’s paws gently but firmly to keep them from moving away quickly. Cut the nail below the quick and only take off a small amount each time you clip. Continue to cut the nail until you see a white ring form with black in the center. If you cut much further, you could end up cutting into the quick. If you do cut into the quick, use the styptic powder to stop the bleeding. You should also apply gentle but firm pressure to the area.

It is best to trim your dog’s nails after you give them a bath. Their nails will be softer at that time and easier to trim. Be sure that you do it on a regular basis to avoid problems.

How to Cut Dog’s Hair

Along with trimming the dog’s nails, learning how to cut their hair is one of the more difficult factors of learning how to groom a dog at home. It doesn’t need to be difficult, however, and with the right tools and a little bit of practice, you can be trimming them like a pro.

The first thing you will need is to gather the proper tools. Some of the basic tools include a comb and slicker brush but you will also need to purchase clippers. Avoid the temptation to save money when buying clippers. Pay some more for a professional model and you will find it lasts you a lot longer. In addition, they tend to run more quietly and keep their edge longer, allowing you to trim the dog with fewer problems.

Prior to the time that you trim a dog, it should be bathed and thoroughly dry. This will help to undo any of the tangles that would otherwise be a problem. You can then begin the actual trimming process.

Always work in the same direction that a dog’s hair grows. If you work against the growth of the hair, it will likely create unnatural looking lines. Work slowly starting at the neck of the dog and work toward the hind leg. Hold the dog firmly but gently to keep them from moving suddenly, potentially causing injury or at the very least, ruining your good efforts.

It will take some time to trim a dog and you should not try to rush the process. If you continue to work with the dog’s coat and to take things slowly, you will find that it gives them a beautiful trim. In fact, you might just be surprised with how good of a job you can actually do.

One of the problems that can occur is for the clippers to get too hot, especially if your dog has a lot of hair. On frequent occasions, shut the clippers off and touch them with your hand to make sure that they are not getting too hot for your dog’s skin. If they do get too hot, try putting them on a baking sheet and they will cool off quickly. You may also be able to cool them by spraying on clipper coolant or changing the blades frequently.

You do have some creative license when it comes to trimming your dog but it is always a good idea to check for the standard and how the breed should look when finished. Doing so will help to give you some general guidance to get started.

There is some work involved but you will find that learning how to groom a dog provides many benefits. Those benefits extend far beyond the fact that you are saving a lot of money. The grooming process can be one that is enjoyable for both you and the dog and with a little practice, you will find that you are quite proud of the way that your newly groomed dog looks.