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Grooming Your Dog at Home? 4 Tips to Get Started

Having your dog groomed during the COVID-19 pandemic can be a little tricky. Particularly if you are staying safe and staying home. Perhaps your go-to dog groomer isn’t open just yet? Or maybe you’re just looking to pick up a cost-saving new skill. If any of that rings true, here are some tips to get started with grooming your dog at home.  (Please note: This article is not intended to teach you how to groom your dog, but rather to get you started on the right foot, er, paw.)

Tools of the trade

Before you get started, remember to have the right tools on hand. Be sure to research and use the right tools recommended for your dog’s breed. Avoid using dupes like household scissors or a beard trimmer — not only are they ineffective, they could be more dangerous to you and your dog during the grooming process.  Here’s an idea of what to gather:

  • Grooming table or elevated surface that you can safely work from
  • Dog shampoo and conditioner
  • Ear-and-eye cleaning kit
  • Brushes and combs
  • Electric dog-grooming clippers with proper guards
  • Shears or grooming scissors
  • Toenail clippers or files

The most useful item is the dog-grooming clippers. Spend some time learning about the specific coat type your dog has, as you may find that you need to run the clippers in a different direction than you thought. Quieter models are better if your dog is sensitive to noise. Using a clippers might seem straightforward, but there is more to it than meets the eye. Check out this article to learn important techniques.

Some dog breeds—like most terriers—should not be groomed with traditional clippers. They may instead require a more precise tool like standard shears or grooming scissors. When it comes to brushes and combs, be sure to buy ones that are most appropriate for your dog’s coat. For example, bristle brushes are preferred for short-haired breeds and softer brushes for long-haired breeds.

 

Location

You can pretty much groom your dog wherever you both can be comfortable and at ease. The most obvious place to bathe your dog is in a bathtub. Bathing small dogs in a sink might be convenient, but be sure to not let too much fur run down the drain for the integrity of your pipes. Outside is fine, but refrain from grooming outside in cold weather. Also, anticipate that there will be clean-up needed when you are finished from your styling session.

 

Body inspection

Grooming your dog offers a great opportunity to give your dog a fully body massage and check their body for ticks, injuries, or growths. If anything about an injury or growth concerns you—and certainly if it makes your dog uncomfortable—call your veterinarian immediately. Remember to ask your vet to learn about the safest way to remove ticks. Finally, be sure to check your dog’s paw pads for injuries.

 

No-nos

Make sure to avoid the following:

  • Do not use human beauty or hygiene products. Only use shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste designed for dogs.
  • Do not clip your dog’s nails too short. It can cause pain and bleeding — opt for filing if you are inexperienced.
  • Do not rush the process. If done calmly and correctly this can be a great bonding time for you and your dog. If you and your dog are tense or uncomfortable, take a break or stop altogether.

If you have a pure breed, contact your breeder for grooming tips specific to your dog’s breed. You should also consult your veterinarian for any directions specific to your dog, particularly if they have sensitive skin or ears.