Dog grooming is our pet’s spa day. Just like us, we also want to take some time off to relax and have a beauty treat. Our pets are fond of playing whenever and wherever they want, even though they would get all muddy and dirty.
Our job as owners is to keep them clean and fresh so that all kinds of bacteria would not get them sick. However, frequent visits to the grooming stations would cost you a lot of money, so knowing some handy DIY dog grooming tips would be of great help.
Educating ourselves about how we could adequately take care of our pets could be really helpful if you want to build a good and healthy relationship with them. We know that trying to understand them and their wants is a great challenge for most of us. That is why implementing good routines with them will ease our work.
Benefits of Dog Grooming
Before going into some of the DIY dog grooming tips, it is also essential to know why we need to groom our dogs. By understanding this, you would most probably want to groom your dog after reading this!
1. Reduced Shedding
Thanks to dog grooming, our furry pets will experience less shedding. Although this is perfectly normal for them, you’ll worry less about cleaning your carpet and other upholstery furniture. The bonus for this is that it would also reduce scratching and irritation.
2. Better Hygiene
If you want your dog to keep on smelling fresh and looking clean, grooming is the best way to do so. Dog grooming doesn’t only enhance the outside appearance, but it also promotes better hygiene for them. Keeping them away and safe from bacteria would protect them from sickness.
Although you will find some articles online that say dog baths should be given between 2 and 3 months, it is still your decision how you would build a routine with your furry pet.
3. Deeper Relationship with Your Furry Pet
I bet you didn’t expect that dog grooming would deepen your relationship with your pet. Whenever they let you take care of them, it means that they trust you.
It’s funny that a veterinarian named Dr. Neil Marrinan said that “90 percent of the work will be done before, and away from, the actual 10 percent of grooming.” Your dog must really know your behavior and place confidence in you if they accept your grooming offer.
11 Must-Haves in Your Dog Grooming Basket
“I need to groom my dog. What do I need to have?”
As groomers, you might want to check the list below before you start a dog grooming activity. These are the essentials that you need to fully groom your dogs and keep them looking fresh and clean.
If you shop for dog shampoo, its different variants may confuse you. There are types of shampoo designed for a specific need.
- Medicated dog shampoo – usually advised by veterinarians in treating allergies or other skin conditions
- Tear-free shampoo – aims to protect our dog’s eyes during bath time
- Natural dog shampoo – generally made of organic ingredients (meaning it’s free of harmful chemicals) that would maintain their fur and skin
Toothbrush and Toothpaste for Dogs
It is good to choose a flavored toothpaste so our dogs would be much happier. Don’t worry: dog toothpaste is safe to swallow. No need to panic just in case.
Brush or Comb
Different breed types may need different brushes that would suit their fur coat. Here are some of the kinds of brushes that you can use:
- Wire pin brushes – for dogs with medium to long hair
- Rakes and mat breakers – for removing mats and tangled hair
- Bristle brushes – commonly used for most dog hair types
- Flea combs – good for searching fleas
- Shedding tools – used to take out excess hair for double-coated breeds.
- Slicker brushes – used for detangling knots and mats
Special Wipes for the Eyes and Ears
These are available in stores and online, but you can also opt to use a clean cloth and an ear wash.
You might also want to add the following to your kit:
- Nail clipper and/or grinder
- Hair clipper
- Grooming spray
- Clean towel
- Dog treats
You might want to prepare some treats for your dog so that they would feel happy throughout the grooming process.
Let these tools serve as your investment for your furry pets. Quality products would keep you and your dogs safe from injuries, and it would help your grooming a lot easier.
14 DIY Dog Grooming Tips
Let us now dive into some useful grooming tips that you are free to apply with your dog. Save your money by reducing your visits to the grooming station. As you do dog grooming by yourself, you might as well want to do it the right way.
1. Allot some time for dog grooming.
Dog grooming is not a task that you could do in an hour. You might want to allot 3 to 4 hours in carrying out this task. It is because you’ll do a lot of work besides applying some shampoo. However, if you don’t have that much free time, availing grooming services is always an option.
2. Make sure to use the right tools.
Dog grooming is like going to battle; you would want to use the appropriate tools before going into it. Having the right set of tools will not only simplify our work, but it would also save you and your dogs from encountering accidents and injuries. Every dog has a specific type of need. So we need to know which tools are best for their hair, nails, and eyes.
3. Dog grooming outdoors is the best.
If you have observed how dog grooming services work, you would see that it is very messy. You might want to consider doing it outdoors so that hair and dirt wouldn’t linger around your house, which also means that it is easier to clean. It is more fun to work outside with fresh air and open space. However, be wary of bad habits, especially if you suddenly decide to do it outside when your pet is used to having it inside your house.
4. Leash them for the meantime.
You might want to put on a leash as you groom them to make it easier for you to encourage them for a bath. Also, you don’t want to see your dog running around your house with shampoo all over their body!
5. Bathe intermittently.
Dog baths are dependent on the type of dog you have. Dogs with long hair would probably need more frequent showers compared to those with short hair. For dogs with certain allergies or other specific needs, they may require more baths. You can create a schedule when you do dog grooming so that you won’t have to do it every day.
It is essential to know that dogs have their own natural oils to protect their skin and promote hair growth. Giving them frequent baths might cause their skin to dry, which may lead to irritation and infection.
6. Brush, brush, brush!
Dogs love when their owners brush their hair. This task is best done before you start grooming your dog so that it’s easier to put shampoo without tangled hair. It would also protect them from pests that might go into their hair.
Brushing their hair relaxes and calms our dogs. This helps prepare them for a dog grooming session. If your dogs are already trained that brushing their hair means they will be groomed, it would be easier for you to make them follow you.
7. Use a specific shampoo in dog grooming.
Just like humans, dogs also need a specific shampoo for a particular type of hair. If you have observed, shampoos contain certain ingredients for a specific need. Be careful in choosing them because your dog might be allergic to it. It may irritate their skin as some shampoos contain dyes, fragrances, and other harmful chemicals.
If you need to treat dry and itchy skin, you can find moisturizing shampoos that contain vitamins, milk, and honey. Deodorizing shampoo may also be useful if you want your dog to stay fragrant for a more extended period. These are a must because it’s a vital tool in the dog grooming process.
8. Use clipper oil.
Use clipper oil to maintain your tools, such as the clipper and clipper blades. This allows the blades to run smoothly, which will save you more time. It is advisable that you put this before grooming and even during breaks.
9. Trim their nails while dog grooming.
Besides maintaining the hair of our dogs, it is also essential to keep their nails short. By trimming their nails, their skin would be protected from getting hurt every time they scratch their body. This would also help them in walking without damaging their feet.
There are two types of nail clippers. One is the scissors-type, and the other is the guillotine. However, most professionals in dog grooming chose the scissors-type because it prevents injury from happening.
10. Learn how to cut your dog’s hair.
Learning how to cut your dog’s hair is a big bonus in keeping your pet fabulous and stylish. Luckily, you don’t have to be a professional to do this.
There are a lot of hairstyles that would suit different kinds of breeds, and you only need to learn and master some of them. Just be careful to cut with caution so that you won’t hurt your pet during grooming.
In cutting their hair, it is highly advisable to use scissors with a rounded or ball tip to avoid injuries and accidents while grooming. Here are some safety precautions to observe while cutting your dog’s hair:
- Use sharp thinning shears because it is light and easy to use.
- Avoid using thinning shears to remove mats and tangles from their coat.
- Use a fine-toothed comb as a safety barrier or shield between the skin and the shear.
- The frequency of haircutting depends on the breed of the dog. Observe how long their hair grows and trim it at least once a month. Make the right choice when to cut because their fur may also be their protection against the weather condition.
11. Trim hair around their paws.
For some dog breeds, you can find fur on their paw. You need to trim it from time to time to make it look neat and tidy. It would also keep them from accumulating dirt under their paw, thus keeping them safe from infections and injuries.
12. Clean their ears and eyes while dog grooming.
During grooming, you should also give utmost importance to cleaning their ears and eyes.
For the ears, normalize the habit of regularly checking it to make sure that mites do not come near it. Also, be sure to check if there’s no wax building up as it can cause infection.
In cleaning their ears, you can use special wipes that are made for dogs, or you can buy ear wash and use cotton balls to remove excess wax and dirt. Be careful in doing this because you may damage your dog’s ears. However, cleaning their ears is not highly advisable if they show symptoms like odor, discharge, redness, and hair loss. It’s best to consult a veterinarian regarding this.
For the eyes, make sure to protect them from excess fur that may block their vision. This is common for long-haired dogs such as Shih Tzu, Maltese, Lhasa Apso. You may have observed gunk building up in the corner of their eyes. As much as possible, clean it immediately to prevent it from sticking on their fur. Although gunk isn’t necessarily harmful, too much of it may cause irritations and overactive tear ducts.
To check the health of their eyes, gently pull down the lower lid. Its color should be pink, not red or white. If the color is otherwise, make sure to consult a veterinarian.
13. Brush their teeth.
Another essential part of dog grooming is brushing their teeth. This should be done regularly; however, you can also do it during bath time if ever your dog doesn’t want to cooperate. Irregular dental care may cause heart, kidney, and liver problems.
Another way in keeping their teeth and gums healthy is by letting them chew raw bones or natural chew sticks. However, brushing it would be better because you can see the results afterward.
Take note that you cannot use human toothpaste while brushing your dog’s teeth. Why? It is because it contains harmful chemicals if they swallow it, and they don’t know how to spit it out. Toothpaste for dogs is available, and it’s good to choose poultry-flavored one so that they can at least enjoy it while you brush their teeth.
There are available toothbrush sets in stores and online that you can buy to add to your dog grooming basket. This task may need some time for training to make sure that your dogs are comfortable during the process.
14. Remember to have fun!
The whole dog grooming process may be stressful for our dogs. Whenever you feel that it is already too much for them, you could stop it or just take a quick break. Be ready with some treats to be used as rewards while grooming.
Surprisingly, our dogs sense our behaviors. Please be patient with them and do not get angry or upset with them during the dog grooming session.
A fun dog grooming experience would make your dog want to do it again and again. By having good habits, it would be easier to encourage and ask them for a bath. Consider this as a bonding time with your dog. Make the most out of it; for sure, you will learn a lot during the process.
Reminders After Dog Grooming
After having a dog grooming activity, your dog would still feel nervous energy. You would see them rolling in the dirt or running around the house. This is because they are feeling either moody or good, or they are just shaking off excess water in their fur.
You may want to prepare a clean towel for them. Others use a hairdryer in drying their fur; however, it might hurt their ears and even burn them if not handled and used carefully. So let’s just go back to having a clean towel and let them dry naturally.
Breed-Specific Dog Grooming Considerations
Dogs have specific needs depending on their breed. Knowing this would make you think of how you would carry out your mission as their groomer. Make sure to align their needs to your tasks during the process.
For breeds such as French Bulldog, Shar Pei, Neapolitan Mastiff, and Pug, you’ll see wrinkles in their faces and bodies. In taking care of these types of breeds, you must know that dirt and moisture tend to be trapped in their skin due to the folds.
As you groom them, make sure to really clean the folds of their skin to ensure that all kinds of dirt will be removed. However, be gentle as you do it, and you can use the special wipes or a washcloth in doing it. Also, make sure to rinse it very thoroughly so that no shampoo will get stuck on their skin.
For breeds such as Airedale and Cocker Spaniel, curly coats should be maintained carefully. It is because it gets matted if you don’t brush it frequently, which will cause pain when they shed.
When grooming your dog, carefully apply shampoo on their body and make sure to rinse it off entirely but gently. The curls in their hair can trap dirt and even shampoo, so be very mindful when bathing them because it might cause skin irritation early on.
Floppy or Hairy Ears
Breeds such as Afghan Hound and Basset Hound have floppy or furry ears. This means that there is less air circulation, so dirt tends to stay on their ears, and when added with moisture, an infection may occur.
This means that they need frequent ear cleaning or even a whole dog grooming session because they are prone to infections and disease due to their body type. Since their ears are hairy, you can remove it using special tweezers for dogs so that it is easier to clean. Don’t worry because it is not really painful.
Shedding varies among breed types. For dogs such as Standard Poodles and Irish Water Spaniel, they shed very little or not even shed at all. This is good news for your house members who have allergies and such! However, as groomers and owners, it also means that their coat needs more care.
If you don’t trim and brush them, their hair will be matted. Dirt and bacteria will also accumulate if no proper care is done.
Some dogs, such as Shih Tzu and Maltese, have short noses. This makes them tear more compared to other breeds. Tears tend to stain on the corner of their eyes or the fur near their eyes. Don’t worry too much because you won’t need the help of a veterinarian for that!
To prevent tear stains, you could rinse your dog’s eyes with a special eyewash made, especially for dogs. You can also use this to wash the fur near their eyes. Another important thing is to make sure that the hair around their eyes is not long, so keep them trimmed as a means to avoid having any kind of problems.
Common Mistakes in Dog Grooming
The famous line “Practice makes perfect” is very applicable in dog grooming. However, it is common that we still make mistakes along the way. Take note of some common errors in grooming your dog so that you won’t do it again.
1. Lack of Preparation
Before you want to start doing something, you will most likely do some preparations beforehand. The same goes for dog grooming. Your dog may feel a lot of stress if you suddenly pushed them into going into the process. It would feel overwhelming with them, and they tend to be alarmed.
Create good routines and habits with your dog so they will be comfortable enough when you ask them for a bath. Though this may take some time, so have some patience and continue in building a good relationship with your dog.
As mentioned earlier, dog grooming takes about 3-4 hours, depending on your pacing. Make sure to allot time for it instead of rushing it for an hour or so. You would never want your spa day to be overwhelming and stressful, right?
Another aspect of preparing for dog grooming is to have things ready beforehand. It is highly advisable to organize your dog grooming kit in a basket so that you won’t have a hard time looking for your tools. Keep it organized and store it in a safe place.
2. Poor Brushing
Investing in grooming tools could be helpful for you and your dog. Remember that there are different kinds of brushes used in maintaining their hair. Poor brushing usually leads to tangled hair, which also increases the chances of having matted hair.
It is best to brush their hair before and after grooming, but it is also highly encouraged to have it cleaned regularly to remove dirt from it. Think of it as another way of bonding with your dog, even for a short time.
3. Starting with Bad Habits
Starting with bad practices in dog grooming is a big NO. It would make your dog uncomfortable every time they take a bath. If this happens, it would be harder for you to make them follow you, and you will probably have a hide-and-seek game.
Take some time to build a good relationship with your dog and strive to gain their trust. This is the key to dog grooming, not the tools.
Final Thoughts on Dog Grooming
Dog grooming is a fun-filled activity to do with your dog, primarily that this promotes their overall health and well-being. It might be tiresome, but it will surely be a significant factor in creating a strong bond with your furry pet.
As owners, it is essential to know that in dog grooming, teamwork is critical. Celebrity dog groomer Jorge Bendersky once said dog grooming is similar to tango. In this dance, the partners need to be synchronized to carry out this dance successfully. However, you should be the one leading your dog in this process.
Let us strive to give our dogs the love that they need by taking care of them and their health. Dogs are our best friends, so we should treat them with the utmost importance.
Nicole is an avid sports fan and an excellent multi-tasker. Aside from her full-time work as a Commercial Management Trainee in a food and beverage FMCG company, she also entered two fulfilling part-time jobs: one as a researcher in a business news channel and another as a freelance writer of various companies. Nothing can beat the adrenaline she feels from all of these amazing side hustles!