If you are a dog owner who, for whatever reason, is unable to take your pet to grooming appointments, you may appreciate learning how to do it yourself. Grooming a dog at home can be time-consuming and a bit tricky, even if you arm yourself with patience. However, regular grooming is essential for dogs so that you don’t have unattractive smells or a dog with tangled fur, overgrown nails, or other inconveniences.
Here is how you can keep your dog well-groomed at home in the very best way possible:
Make grooming enjoyable for your dog
Dogs – especially puppies – need to be rewarded for good behavior, including staying calm when being groomed.
If your dog is new to being groomed, go slowly and give lots of treats and praise to your dog as you go if it’s your dog’s first time. Make it a pampering time so that your dog will look forward to grooming sessions.
You could also put a small amount of spreadable food that you know they like on a flat surface for them to lick off while you groom them.
Trim nails carefully
Nails that are too long cause discomfort for your dog, so keep an eye on them and trim nails when they get too long. If you can hear your dog’s nails on the floor with each step, it’s time for a trim.
Do this safely, though, as it can be tricky if you don’t have experience.
Bathe your dog, but not too often
Most dogs only need to be bathed once every few months. If you wash your dog too often, you will unwittingly strip the natural oils from your dog’s skin, which can lead to skin dryness.
When you do bathe your dog, put a non-slip bath mat in the tub so that they feel more secure.
Use a specialized soap-free dog shampoo, as their skin has a different pH level to ours.
Start with warm water till your dog is wet all over, and then work the shampoo into your dog’s coat gently. Avoid your dog’s mouth, eyes, nose, and ears. Give your dog praise as you bathe them, including the odd treat when your dog is especially calm.
Rinse your dog with warm water, and then, if at all possible, let your dog dry outside so that they can shake their fur. If this isn’t possible (for instance, in cold weather), dry your dog gently with a towel. You could also try using a blow-dryer but ONLY on the coldest setting.
Brush your dog regularly
Regular brushing of your dog’s coat will prevent tangles and matted hair. Matted hair can be painful for dogs, and some dogs may lick or bite the site of discomfort, which can lead to skin infections. Small objects such as plant or grass seeds or burrs can get inside a dog’s thick coat and burrow their way towards the skin and cause further problems such as skin abscesses.
If your dog is a longhaired breed such as a Collie or a Retriever, you’ll need to brush their coat every other day, or at the very least once a week.
With shorthaired breeds such as Labradors or Greyhounds, brushing is mostly to remove any dead skin cells, grass, or dirt from their coats. This means you won’t have to bathe them as often, and you might be able to get away with brushing them every other week.
Go easy around eyes and paws
When hair gets too long around a dog’s eyes and paws, it can block their vision and even damage eyes if the hair rubs against them. You can trim the hair in these sensitive areas yourself if you do it carefully.
First of all, wait till your dog is calm before trimming – and if your dog is lying down, even better. You could have your dog lie on a dog ramp like the ones at Chasing Tails to have easy access and keep them calm.
Use slow movements not to startle your dog, and be very careful when blades are near your dog’s skin. If you are nervous, get someone to do it who you know can stay calm, as dogs will pick up on your fear.
Once you have finished trimming, reward your dog with a treat to reinforce calm behavior and make it easier next time.
One caveat to trimming your dog’s hair yourself is the hair inside the ears. While trimming hair in the ears can help prevent ear infections, this is very delicate and is best done by your vet if you can’t get to an experienced dog groomer.