These days most of us are doing some penny-pinching. Prices are rising in every industry, and sticking to a budget means we need to do away with some luxuries. It also means that, in some cases, we need to learn how to DIY.
One thing that seems intimidating to try at home is grooming your dog. When we take our dogs to the groomers, they come back with fluffy, shiny coats and smelling like a million bucks. At-home grooming jobs often look like the canine equivalent of a bowl cut.
Don’t worry! With patience and the right tools, you can make your dog look like they’ve just stepped out of a high-end groomer and not like you bathed him in the backyard with a hose and trimmed him with a weed whacker.
We’ve put together a simple guide to help you get your dog looking like he’s Best in Show! Fight back against high dog grooming prices with these 7 easy steps for grooming at home.
At-Home Dog Grooming Equipment
Before you get started, it’s important to make sure that you have the right tools. The right equipment makes all the difference. Here’s what you need:
- A good brush. Make sure the brush is right for your dog’s coat. A wire slicker brush is good for dogs with longer coats that may need detangling. A shedding blade is good for dogs with short coats.
- High-quality shampoo and bath products. If your dog has specific skin and coat concerns, look for products formulated to address these. Only use products meant for dogs. Human products can strip the oils from your dog’s skin and coat.
- A sprayer to attach to your faucet to help remove loose hair.
- A good pair of clippers or grooming shears. To get a professional finish, you will need to trim certain areas.
- An absorbent towel
- Nail clippers
- Styptic pencil or silver nitrate
- Cotton balls. Use these to prevent water from getting into your dog’s ears.
- Ear cleaning solution
- Toothbrush. Either a soft-bristled baby brush or a toothbrush designed for dogs
- Dog toothpaste
How To Groom Your Dog At Home
Now that you’ve got the proper tools, let’s talk grooming.
These are the basic steps for keeping your dog looking groomer-perfect. You don’t need to do all of them every time you groom your dog. For example, your dog will need to be brushed more often than he will need a bath. And some weeks, your dog will need a bat but not a trim.
Perfecting all of these skills and getting into a routine will get your dog used to grooming time at home. Your dog will also stay tidy and look picture perfect.
1. First and foremost, exercise your dog. He will be easier to handle if he’s already tired from a long walk.
2. Give your dog a thorough brushing. This shouldn’t be something you only do before a bath. Brush your dog a few times a week. This will help remove loose hair and prevent tangles. It also helps to distribute the skin’s natural oils through your dog’s coat, keeping it healthy and shiny. Best of all, it’s a great way to bond with your dog.
3. Clip your dog’s nails. This might be the most challenging part of grooming at home. It is also necessary so your dog’s nails don’t become overgrown and interfere with walking. You should only need to do this every 4-6 weeks.
You will need to get your dog used to you handling his feet. Some dogs will struggle against this, so provide a distraction like a lick mat covered in peanut butter (there’s a great one in our Bath Essentials Kit).
Be careful not to trim too far back and nip the quick. This is the area of your dog’s nail where there is blood supply, and nicking it will cause bleeding. Keep styptic pencils or silver nitrate powder nearby in case of an accident.
It’s easier to see the quick on dogs with white nails since you can easily see where the pink quick begins. It can be more of a learning curve in dogs with black nails since you will need to guess how much to trim. The best advice here is to take things slowly and take off bit by bit.
4. Give your dog a bath. Be sure to offer treats for good behavior. And you’ll also want to cover your dog’s ears or gently place cotton balls soaked in ear cleaner in their ears. Using cotton balls helps you combine ear cleaning with bath time. You can wipe your dog’s ears when you remove the cotton.
Start by gently washing your dog’s face. Make sure you remove any eye crusties. If you have any bath treatments (like a soothing bath soak) in the water, make sure you scoop the water over your dog’s entire body. Then, rinse your dog thoroughly.
After his bath, dry your dog with an absorbent towel, or blow-dry him on the lowest setting.
5. Now it’s time to brush out your dog, and, if needed, give him a trim. Brushing will remove any hair loosened in the bath and help fluff up his coat.
If your dog has longer hair, you’ll want to trim gently around the eye area. If your dog has big tufts of hair in the ear or foot area, trim these to a reasonable length as well. Always start trimming from the head and slowly move your way back.
If you use clippers, be careful around delicate areas. Use a larger guard in sensitive spots to prevent irritating or nicking your dog’s skin.
Only trim your dog when he is clean and completely dry.
6. Brush your dog’s teeth. If this isn’t part of your dog’s regular routine, it should be. Brushing will help prevent plaque build-up and keep your dog’s teeth in better condition as he ages. Regular tooth brushing also reduces the risk of certain diseases caused by poor oral hygiene.
Introduce your dog to the toothbrush by letting him sniff it. As he gets used to it, start gently rubbing it on his teeth. Dog toothpaste comes in flavors like beef and cheese, which will help entice your dog to allow you to brush his teeth.
7. End with a treat. Your dog will learn to associate grooming day with a tasty treat. The more pleasant associations your dog has, the easier home grooming will be for both of you.
To make bath time more special, try adding a bath bomb made just for dogs to the bath water. The essential oils will condition your dog’s skin and coat. You can even find bath bombs to address any concerns like anxiety or allergies.