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The Complete Guide to Dog Grooming (DIY + Video)

Profile picture of the author - Anna Lengacherby Anna Lengacher

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Jump to:
Professional Groomer vs Grooming At Home
Benefits Of Grooming Your Dog At Home
Before You Start: 7 Steps to Guarantee a Good Time
How You Can Calm Your Dog for Grooming
What Grooming Tools You Will Need
What Should You NOT do when Grooming a Dog?
How To Groom Your Dog At Home (DIY)
How To Clean A Dog (Brush & Bath)
How To Give A Dog A Haircut
How To Trim A Dogs Nails
How To Brush A Dogs Teeth
How To Clean A Dogs Eyes
Dog Grooming FAQ

Dog grooming refers to maintaining and nurturing a beautiful canine.

Whether you are preparing your dog for a show or you simply want to have a clean Fido around your home, dog grooming is a necessity for every canine breed.

Dog grooming typically includes a thorough brushing of the coat followed by a soap and water bath.

Next, nails are trimmed, ears are cleaned, teeth are brushed, and eyes are properly wiped.

In the end, you have a clean, sweet-smelling dog who is ready to take on the world.

Less hair will be floating around your home.  Your dog’s coat will feel softer, and you’ll be greeted with fresh-scented doggy breath.

If you’re ready to get your dog clean, enjoy today’s Complete Guide to Dog Grooming.

 

Whether you groom your dog daily, weekly, or several times a month all depends on which breed you choose.

Some breeds enjoy a daily brushing while others are considered low maintenance and are happy to be given a quick brush through several times each week.

Regardless which breed is yours, plan to either groom or have your pet groomed by a professional as often as your breed requires.

 

If you already have a dog, or are looking for a new dog friend, this post is for you.

Below you will learn pros and cons of grooming at home versus at a professional groomer.

Should you choose to tackle the task of grooming at home, you will learn not only how to groom your dog at home, but also which tools to use, where you can find quality tools, the benefits of grooming, and how to calm your dog for each grooming session.

We’ll also cover what not to do when grooming your dog, coupled with seven essential steps to guarantee a good time when grooming your dog at home.

Dog grooming guide infographic

 

Professional Groomer vs. Grooming at Home

Professional Groomer

Pros:

  • Already has the proper tools to groom your breed.
  • They know how to make dogs feel at ease.
  • They take care of the dirt.

Cons:

  • They are more costly.
  • You need to fit into their schedule rather than grooming on your own time.

No matter how qualified your local professional groomer appears, always make sure you feel comfortable leaving your dog with him/her.

If you are looking for a professional groomer near you, click here.

Grooming at Home (DIY)

Pros:

  • Save money.
  • With proper training, it’s easy to learn.
  • It’s flexible.  You can fit grooming into your personal schedule.
  • It builds trust between you and your dog.

Cons:

  • You need some type of training before you start.
  • It’s messy.

 

While many people opt to have a professional groom their dog or puppy, with a little training (found below), it’s entirely possible for you to learn how to groom your dog without ever leaving home.

So if you are tired of regular grooming bills and ready to start saving big, continue reading.

 

Benefits of Grooming Your Dog at Home

Professional groomer giving a dog a haircut.

Pay a visit to any professional groomer and you’ll quickly discover the price tag for keeping your Fido looking clean and neat can get uncomfortably high.

This is where learning to groom your dog at home comes in.

By opting for in-home grooming rather than at your local pet-salon, you will be able to start saving money immediately.

Plus, the time you spend getting your pet clean and neat provides a perfect opportunity to bond with your pet.

Few things draw friends together like good, quality time.

As grooming sessions become part of your new routine, you’ll be able to enjoy consistent, quality time together with your pet.

By brushing out loose hairs, sudsing up your fur-pal, and brushing those canine teeth, you’ll be making memories that last a lifetime.

You’ll also be building trust between you and your four-legged friend.

Dr. Neil Marrinan from Old Lyme Veterinary Hospital in Old Lyme, CT once stated, “Your dog trusts you completely with all the big decisions in her life.  But, on the little things, she sure can have opinions, and those need to be addressed.”

Believe it or not, your dog may have an opinion on how she is groomed.

She may prefer specific clippers.  Or maybe she has a favorite toothpaste.  Perhaps she loves being sprayed with a hose when getting rinsed down.

These opinions may seem small at first.  Yet how you respond to these preferences can either strengthen or destroy the trust level enjoyed between you and your pet.

 

Before You Start: 7 Steps to Guarantee a Good Time

Before you ever pull out the doggy shampoo or get your clippers ready to go, make sure you are first doing these seven essential steps.

  1. Be consistent.  It’s crucial that your pet knows what to expect from you.  So when you say something, carry it through.  If you make a promise, fulfill it.
  2. Develop a foundation of trust.  There are lots of new things going on the first few times your pet is groomed.  There’s water, soap, clippers, and other unfamiliar tools that can soon have your pet feeling uncomfortable.  As a result, be intentional to first develop a level of trust with your pet before you start grooming her.
  3. Grab some treats.  Have a stash of favorite treats to boost good behavior all along the way.
  4. Follow predictable steps.  Every time you groom your pet, follow a predictable order of steps.  This way your dog can learn exactly what to expect each time she is groomed.
  5. Find a quiet space.  Look for a quiet place to groom your pet.  Loud noises can soon stress a dog out when it’s time to get clean.  (Bonus: look for a clipper that isn’t super noisy too!)
  6. Stay calm.  Believe it or not, your dog can tell when you are feeling stressed out.  More than likely, if you are stressed then your dog is also going to feel stressed.  Keep a check on your emotions and don’t get uptight about things.  Just keep cool and groom on, or something like that.
  7. Go slow and take breaks.  When it comes to bathing and brushing and clipping your dog, take your time and refuse to rush.  Remember, this is your opportunity to spend quality time with your fur-ball.  So go ahead and enjoy the process of getting your dog clean.

 

How You Can Calm Your Dog for Grooming

Some dogs and puppies love soap and bubbles and haircut time.

Others don’t.

If your pooch ever appears anxious when grooming time rolls around, here are tried and true methods of getting your pal to calm down.

  • Treat your dog for any good behavior you see.  Even the smallest thing counts.  Whether it’s holding still or not whining or something totally different, be alert for even the tiniest bit of good behavior and then have fun giving treats.
  • Praise.  Like humans, dogs thrive when given praise.  Be verbal about how amazing your dog is.
  • Speak in a soothing voice.  Don’t raise your voice or shout to get your point across.  Instead, speak in a soft and reassuring voice.
  • As mentioned earlier, be consistent and build a routine. Grooming sessions are not the time to surprise your dog.  Instead, follow a consistent order of steps when grooming so your dog can be at ease by knowing what to expect.
  • Get these Calming Bites by Zesty Paws.

    Utilizing organic hemp and chamomile, these dog treats are designed to support dogs who encounter stress, tension, and hyperactivity.

 

What Grooming Tools You Will Need

Before you groom your dog, make sure you first have these tools on hand and then wa-la, you’re ready to go.

  • A comb, brush, or shedding blade
  • Grooming table or grooming arm (optional)
  • Professional-grade grooming clippers specific for dogs
  • No. 10 blade (to avoid cutting your dog’s skin while clipping)
  • Nail clippers or grinder
  • Styptic powder (In case there is a nail bleed.  We recommend this one.)
  • Sharp scissors
  • Doggy shampoo
  • Moist cloth
  • Towel for drying
  • Water
  • Doggy toothpaste
  • Treats

 

What Should You NOT Do When Grooming a Dog?

Before you start, here is a list of ten doggy no-no’s when it comes to grooming your dog.

  1. Don’t use human products on your dog. Whether it’s shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, your hairbrush, or a pair of clippers, make sure each product is dog-friendly before using it on your pal.  Believe it or not, many of the chemicals used in human products are harmful to dogs and should be avoided.
  2. Don’t use your household scissors.  When it comes to trimming up your dog’s coat, keep your household scissors at bay.  Instead opt for a sharp, professional-grade dog grooming scissors.
  3. Never use perfumes.  Dogs are often more sensitive to fragrance than humans.  Even mild exposure to perfumes can lead to respiratory problems for a prized canine.  As a result, keep the perfume bottle away when grooming your beautiful doggo.
  4. Don’t get shampoo in the eyes.  It hurts.  Don’t do it.
  5. Never restrain your dog by gripping her fur.  Be gentle, firm, and consistent.  If needed, wrap your arm around your dog or firmly hold her collar.  Just don’t grip the fur.
  6. Don’t bathe too often.  Believe it or not, a little dog-body oil is good for your pal.  So it’s okay to let her coat get a bit oily sometimes.  It’s actually healthy for her!
  7. Don’t cut the nails too short.  Okay, this one’s obvious.
  8. Never bathe your dog in the cold.  Add cold temperatures to a wet dog coat and you have the perfect recipe for doggy sickness.  Instead, make sure it is warm wherever you plan to bathe your dog.
  9. Don’t wait.  If possible, start grooming when your dog is still young.
  10. Don’t stress.  Your dog knows when you are stressed and chances are, if you are stressed, so is your dog.  Stay relaxed and enjoy bonding with your canine while you get her looking beautiful.

 

How to Groom Your Dog at Home (DIY)

With the prep work done, you are now ready to begin the actual grooming process.

 

1. Clean Your Dog (Brush and Bath)

Brush First.

First things first.  Before you grab your doggy shampoo, first brush through your dog’s coat.

This way you can get rid of any tangles or clumps prior to bathing.

By brushing your dog first, you’ll also be removing loose hair that’s ready to shed which will mean less hair clogging your drain during bath time.

Plan to brush your dog several times each week.  If you are frequent and consistent, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes each time.

 

Begin by brushing at the head and then moving down across your dog’s body.

A dog’s underside is often extra sensitive.  So be super gentle when brushing the underside.

Regarding brushing, Truting explains, “Brushing is the key to keeping [a dog] clean.  I don’t recommend a lot of bathing.  If you are going to bathe your dog, brush first to get the heavy dirt out.”

 

Some breeds will need to be brushed more frequently than others.

For example, Siberian Huskies are heavy shedders and as a result, need frequent brushing to keep their shedding under control.

Shih Tzus, on the other hand, are less prone to shedding.  As a result, these little fur-balls require less brushing.

You can always talk with your breeder if you are unsure exactly how much to brush your specific breed.

 

To groom long-haired breeds, use a slick, metal pin brush. 

Metal pin brushes are especially great for long hair as they easily brush through a dog’s hair to remove loose hair and dirt.

This palm style brush

and this T-brush

are both great brushes for grooming long-haired coats.

 

For short-haired breeds, use either a shedding blade, a bristle brush, or a brush with rubber teeth.  

Here are a few favorite brushes for breeds with short hair.

 

DakPets Deshedding Brush

This brush promotes a smooth and healthy dog coat.  It’s great for dogs with short hair and works well to keep shedding at a minimum.

 

SAFARI Rubber Brush for Dogs

Great for dogs with short hair, this brush actually massages your dog’s skin while removing loose hairs.

 

Bamboo Palm-Held Brush

This brush is beautifully handcrafted to mimic a natural petting sensation as you brush through your dog’s fur.  It’s great for removing loose hair and dirt from dogs with short hair.

 

Double-Sided Pin and Bristle Bamboo Brush

If you have short and long haired dogs in your home, this is your brush.  There’s pin on the one side for long-haired coats and bristle on the other for short-haired coats.  This brush is great for getting rid of loose hairs while eliminating knots, tangles, and dirt.

 

Whichever brush you choose, always brush your dog while she is standing.

This way it’ll be easier to brush underneath your dog plus she won’t be lying in her own little pile of hair.

As you brush through your dog’s coat, check for ticks and any signs of bruising.

Also, take a close look at the pads on each paw.

Each pad should be clean with no signs of cracks or dryness.

 

Then Bath.

Always use a high-quality, chemical-free doggy shampoo when bath time rolls around with your furry pal.

If you haven’t yet purchased a shampoo, here is a fantastic natural (and organic!) dog shampoo.

We love it because it includes shea butter, argan oil, and aloe vera.  You’ll love treating your dog’s coat with these nourishing products.

Or perhaps you already have your shampoo picked out and purchased.

If so, make sure it is healthy for your dog’s skin and isn’t loaded with harmful chemicals.

Before you apply the shampoo, consider diluting it first with water.  This will make it easier to later rinse from your doggy’s coat.  (It’ll also make the shampoo stretch further and save you some pennies!)

Check the temperature of your water, and then soap up and get your dog sparkling.

For small dogs, you might bathe your dog right in your bathtub.

For larger dogs, however, consider moving bath time outdoors.  This way your drain won’t clog from excess dog hair and your bathroom will still be looking neat and tidy after your furry pal is clean.

After you’ve thoroughly lathered and rinsed your dog, grab a towel and give your dog a rub down.  Make sure she is totally dry before moving to the next step.

 

Once your beaut is dry again, go ahead and clean her ears.

Wipe the outside of each ear with a soft, moist cloth.

Again dry thoroughly.

Never force anything inside your dog’s ears.

Instead be alert for any signs of infection, swelling, or a brown or yellow discharge.  If you do notice any of these signs, contact your local veterinarian immediately.

 

2. Haircut Time

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wI9xARUzo1E

Always start with clean, dry hair.

Make sure your pair of clippers is super sharp before starting.  This way you’ll be able to get a clean cut without pulling at your dog’s hair.

On your clippers, begin with a No. 10 guard to avoid cutting your dog’s skin.  Later if you prefer a shorter coat, you can try shorter guards as you feel comfortable.

Typically on longer-haired coats, groomers will use various lengths of blades on different parts of the body until they achieve the desired look.

Short-haired dogs on the other hand typically look great with a single blade all across the body.

Learn what your breed “should” look like when finished.  Either visit your breed’s club website or research photos of your breed to know the after trim look.

 

Once you’re ready to start clipping, place your dog on the grooming table (or another flat surface).

Then with a sharp, professional-grade pair of shears or clippers, start trimming near your dog’s head and move down the body in the direction the hair grows.

By cutting in the direction of hair growth, your dog’s coat will have a smooth and natural look.

Do note, however, that hair changes directions on different parts of the body.  Simply be alert and make changes according to whichever direction the hair is growing.

 

While cutting, check often the temperature of your clippers to make sure it doesn’t get too hot and burn your dog’s skin.

If your pair of clippers does get hot, do one of the following:

  1. Switch to another pair of clippers (if you have a second pair).
  2. Change the blade on your clippers.
  3. Place the hot blade directly onto metal.  The metal will quickly absorb any heat.
  4. Apply a clipper coolant.  (We recommend this one.)

Once you are finished clipping your dog’s coat, carefully use a pair of scissors to do any additional touch up around your pal’s legs, ears, and face.

If you ever see any signs of redness, swelling, or infection while cutting your dog’s coat, be sure to see a veterinary immediately.

Haircut Alternative: Shave your dog’s coat

If for any reason you are looking to totally shave your dog’s coat, again first get your dog clean and 100% dry.

Next, using a pair of clippers with a sharp blade, again begin at the neck and work down your dog’s body.

Keep the blade flat against your pet’s skin and check the blade frequently to ensure it doesn’t burn your dog’s skin.

 

3. Trim Nails

For beginners, clipping your dog’s nails is no walk in the park.  You’ll want to be extremely careful to cut each nail the proper length without also cutting your dog’s skin.

If possible, first watch a professional groomer clip your pet’s nails before trying it yourself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sisprxhsc6I

Some dog breeds have white nails, others have black.  Speak with your local groomer to learn techniques for clipping your specific breed’s nails.

Regardless of which breed you have, it is always good to use a sharp, high-quality nail clipper.  Dull clippers can be painful and can quickly cause splitting or broken nails.

Also before you start clipping, let your dog first get accustomed to the sound of your clippers.

Lastly, if you do happen to clip your doggo’s nails too short, no worries.  Simply grab some styptic powder to stop the bleeding.  (If you don’t already have styptic powder on hand, we recommend this one.)

4. Brush Teeth

Bad breath and plaque-filled teeth are no fun.

Instead, plan to brush your pet’s teeth several times each week to keep those pearly whites gleaming.

Always use a vet-approved toothpaste and a dog-friendly toothbrush.

Or if you prefer, for a toothbrush alternative, you could instead wrap your finger with a clean, wet washcloth and thoroughly wipe your Fido’s teeth.

While wiping the teeth, go ahead and massage the gums as well.

 

After your dog’s teeth are clean, indulge her with a few of these Gourmet Dental Treats.  They are spot on when it comes to promoting strong teeth, healthy gums, and fresh doggy breath.

By taking time now to promote good teeth, you can be saving yourself costly dental work down the road.

 

5. Clean Eyes

With a clean, moist cloth, gently wipe away any discharge near your dog’s eyes.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

(about dog grooming)

1.  Can I groom my own dog?

A:  Yes.  You will need to get proper dog grooming tools before you begin.  Also, speak with a professional dog groomer or research online how to groom your specific breed.

2.  What should you not do when grooming a dog?

A: Do not groom your dog without proper training.  Learn the needs of your breed and avoid using human products such as shampoo, clippers, and toothpaste on your dog.

3.  Where can I find a professional groomer? 

A: Find a professional dog groomer near you here: nationaldoggroomers.com/locator.  After clicking the link, you’ll need to enter your information and then click ‘search’.

4.  What happens during dog grooming?

A: A thorough dog grooming session includes brushing the coat, bathing, clipping or trimming a dog’s coat, trimming nails, cleaning the ears, brushing teeth, and wiping your dog’s eyes.

5.  Do I need to groom my dog? 

A: Yes.  Every dog requires regular and thorough grooming.  Various breeds have different grooming needs.  Some breeds need more grooming, others require less.  However, every dog no matter the breed does need groomed.

6.  Do dogs like being groomed? 

A: At first, many dogs appear anxious.  Be kind and consistent and over time, especially if started while still young, many dogs become comfortable and even enjoy being groomed.

7.  Do you shave a dog with the hair or against? 

A: With the hair.  Always move the blade in the direction of hair growth.  Throughout the body, hair grows in different directions.  Be alert for these changes and make changes accordingly.

8.  How can I calm my dog for grooming? 

A: Build a consistent pre-grooming routine, speak in a soothing voice, and praise your dog often.  Also, lavish your dog with treats as a reward for good behavior.

 

In Closing

If you are having second doubts about grooming your dog at home, you can find a groomer near you here.

Otherwise, congrats!

You are well on your way to giving your dog a truly stunning coat.

Don’t push it off.  Your dog is ready to look amazing.

Oh, and when you’re finished, post an ‘after’ photo in the comments below.  We’d love to meet your beautiful pal.

 

Now go be amazing.

Until next time, VIP Puppies.

 

Profile picture of the author - Anna LengacherAs the Editor in Chief, Anna Lengacher helps dog lovers learn the ropes of finding, raising, and caring for their dogs so they can enjoy many happy memories together.

 

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