Dogs are special and should be treated with respect—watered, fed, given dog vitamins, exercised, and yes, groomed. Grooming on a regular basis is vital for thriving skin, which prevents infections. Do you take pride in your dog but don’t want to pay the prices the groomers charge? Here are some tips to help you groom your dog at home.
Equipment for Dog Grooming
Before you undertake this task, there are a few tools you are going to need. Here is a list of dog grooming equipment that you’ll need along with a few hints to help you.
You’ll want quality dog clippers that will work for years to come, and you do not want them to rust. Stainless steel clippers meet this need and yield quite a clean cut. You do not want them to pull and snag on the dog’s fur and cause discomfort. Grooming should make your dog feel great like you do when you clean up.
Stainless steel scissors are best, too. Look for scissors that are sharp and have received good reviews. It’s best not to base your choice on price but practicality. Dog scissors should be light and fit your fingers and hand well, which will give you optimal control and prevent mishaps. As a rule, for smaller dogs, you’ll want short shorter scissors, and for larger dogs, larger scissors. Never use household scissors but only professional shears.
While bevel shears are suitable for all breeds, straight-line scissors are needed for extremities and stubborn knots. If you have a curly haired breed, a pair of rounded and specialized blender grooming scissors will be a big help.
To get the most out of your scissors, you’ll need to take care of them. Don’t use them for anything besides dog hair. Next, clean and oil them religiously after each use. After oiling and wiping them off, store them safely, blades closed, in a case to prevent nicks and buildup. If your scissors aren’t cutting well, it may be time to adjust the screw.
These are the brushes to use by hair type:
- Curly: Metal comb or dematting tool
- Straight: Pin brush or dematting tool
- Very short hair: Rubber or bristle brush
- Short, shedding hair: Rubber brush or dog shedding brush
- Short, thick, shedding hair: (Slicker brush and undercoat rake) or shedding tool
- Medium hair: Slicker brush or undercoat rake
How to Trim Your Dog’s Fur
Here is how to prep your dog and the steps involved to trim their fur.
Wash and Dry Your Dog’s Fur Beforehand
- Do not use perfumes or perfumed products, as dogs are extremely sensitive to these. Try an easy homemade dog shampoo recipe instead.
- Offer positive associations, like toys and treats.
- Be gentle, loving and patient.
- Protect your dog’s ears. Water in your dog’s ears can result in health issues and discomfort.
- Protect your dog’s eyes. Wash your dog’s face with a damp washcloth instead of a sprayer.
- Use a system, washing from the neck and working back toward the legs with a good dog shampoo. This will protect your dog’s face.
- Many use dog blow dryers, but I recommend microfiber towels instead.
Clipping Your Dog’s Fur
Now that your dog is clean, it’s time for a stylish cut. Unlike when you get a cut with wet hair, your best friend needs to be completely dry before you begin clipping. Oil your clippers to keep them cool, continuing to oil them as you cut, if they get hot.
Ensure you have found the correct blade size for your dog. You can ask your veterinarian for help. You do not want the clippers to tug and cause discomfort to your dog and must keep clipper blades flat, lying against the skin.
You may also want to ask your vet some other questions while you’re there, such as the standard way to cut your particular breed. You don’t have to adhere to this, but there are reasons other than looks why most different breeds have their own individual styles of cuts.
Start at the legs and head toward the tail, finishing with the hind legs, touching up the extremities last. Watch the armpit area and the area where the back and legs meet, as they are ripe for injuries.
Use Scissors for Touch-Ups
Use scissor tips for touch-ups, but be very cautious when doing so. Be sure and hold your dog still.
Use Scissors Around Extremities
Remove mats with your fingers gently. Be patient and take your time. Use a dog conditioner to help you detangle the hair.
Keep your household scissors in the drawer where they belong, and do not attempt to cut mats out of your dog’s coat yourself. One wrong move from a nervous pup could result in serious injury. Often, the best way to remove a mat is using your fingers, some dog conditioner, a couple of different types of combs, and a lot of time and patience.
How to Trim Around Face
Use only the tips of scissors around the face. Hold the dog gently but firmly to keep accidents from happening.
How to Trim Around Legs
- Front legs: Position your dog so that no flinching is possible. Start at the top of the leg and cut down toward the feet. Change direction, cutting carefully up to get patches of hair missed before. If needed, circle the legs, watching elbows and other sensitive places.
- Rear legs: Start at the bottom and move upward slowly, rough cutting thick portions of fur, then trimming rough-looking patches.
How to Trim Around Ears
Use the fingers of your non-scissor hand to form a shield over the edge of the dog’s ear. This way, you can be sure it is only the hair you are trimming.
How to Trim Around Paws
Use only the tips of small scissors. Spread the toe pads and trim the hair, but not all of it, as it serves as a shield for the skin between the toes.
How to Care for Nervous Dogs
To make grooming a happy time for your dog, you will want to keep them from being afraid and nervous. One very important way to do this is to choose a pair of quality, but quiet, clippers. Bad experiences, such as hair pulling, nicks and cuts, and soap in the animal’s eyes, can ruin what could have been a great experience for them. Distractions, like other animals or people, loud music or television, or even your telephone suddenly ringing loudly could shock your dog. Exercise patience. Comfort and love your pet during grooming time.
How to Brush Your Dog’s Fur
Use the correct brush for your breed.
The Afghan Hound, the Belgian Sheepdog, and other long-haired dogs should be brushed weekly, or even more often, if their fur becomes unusually matted. Comb mats with a real comb, but use a pin brush for these breeds. A pin brush’s bristles, made of bent wire, get the loose hairs out without the discomfort.
The Boston Terrier and the Great Dane are short-haired dogs and need to be brushed much less often, as their hair doesn’t matt and hold lots of loose hair. Once every couple of weeks is usually fine. Gloves or rubber brushes bring debris to the surface. A stiff brush of natural bristles will work, too, as will a soft slicker brush, but both should be followed up by a soft bristle brush to help distribute the fur’s natural oils.
Dogs With an Undercoat
On short, wiry-haired breeds, like Otterhounds and Irish Terriers, you’ll need to use a slicker brush. Then, go over them once more with a metal comb. You’ll need to repeat this two or three times per week. Have a skilled groomer teach you how to use a stripping knife so you can use it to remove the undercoat’s hair each time you groom after you remove any mats.
How Often Should a Dog Be Groomed?
You will want to groom regularly, but exactly how often? That will depend on your breed. Formulate a grooming plan that takes into consideration your inexperience. You don’t want your dog getting weary and restless because your planned grooming regimen is taking too long.