How to groom a dog is something you should learn and appreciate for multiple reasons.
- It makes your dog look kempt, pleasant and sociable, which alleviates concern of people he may interact with. First impression is very important for everyone, and people will react positively to a well-groomed dog.
- By grooming your dog, you are establishing a bond that is as important as playing with your furry friend. Furthermore, regular grooming makes your dog learn to be patient and calm, which is a huge benefit if you take him to a veterinarian, professional groomer, or just an unknown environment.
- Grooming prevents an overflow of hair and dandruff in your home, alongside keeping your dog’s coat at peak performance in terms of regulating its temperature. This is especially important during the shedding season.
- The act of dog grooming may be a life-saver for your dog. As all dog owners know, just simple brushing can reveal dangerous ticks, anomalous bumps, rashes, infections, etc. Teeth brushing may reveal problem with bleeding gums, and clipping dog’s nails may uncover a stuck thorn.
The Ultimate guide to DIY Dog Grooming
In a nutshell, if you take care of your dog’s coat, teeth, paws, eyes, and ears, you will have a stress-free relationship with your pet, and drastically reduce the potential for nasty surprises and costly veterinarian expenditures.
You can delegate this responsibility to a professional groomer once per month, but you will see that dog grooming is not a big deal if you decide to do it yourself. All you have to do is equip yourself with some knowledge and proper tools.
How to Properly Bathe Your Dog
Although dogs are much easier to bathe than cats, you still have to create positive incentives for bathing to go smoothly.
The golden rule is to acclimate your dog to bathing from its early puppyhood. If you happened to have adopted an adult dog who goes into apoplexy at the mere mention of bathing, all is still not lost!
If that is the case, you need to introduce your dog to bathing gradually:
- Going for a long walk before a bath is a good idea in the initial stages of acclimation, so your dog expends all that excess energy. A tired dog is a more compliant dog.
- Petting can create a calming effect. Pet your dog’s chest and back area in a tub before any water is introduced. Use soothing and playful voice that he/she is accustomed to.
- When you think he is ready to get wet, go slow with washing one paw at a time with warm water. During this entire process, reward your dog with a tasty treat so he will associate positive feelings with being compliant. The primary goal during this acclimation process is to always make your dog feel safe, relaxed and rewarded. Stop yourself from yelling if he is not. This will only make everything worse.
- Likewise, all bathroom-related items – shower head, shampoo, and towel – should be introduced gradually.
- Apply the shampoo after a dog’s body is completely wet, and gently massage it in. Just assume that your dog has sensitive skin, so always use a hypoallergenic shampoo designed for dogs.
- Don’t spray water into dog’s face – eyes and ears – use lukewarm wet wipes instead.
If you find the whole bathing event turn into hysterical attempts at escaping, just stop and try another day.
Remember, the goal is to make all future bathings go hassle-free, not to complete a single bathing no matter the cost.
Lastly, if you are using normal bathroom tub/shower cabin, definitely place a non-slip mat on the floor first. Dog’s paws don’t have much traction on bare acrylic/porcelain/enamel.
Things to Do Before Bathing
- If you don’t want to create clumped balls of hair that need to be cut off, first thoroughly brush your dog in order to remove hair knots, tangles and mats.
- Buy a shampoo that is specialized for dog use. Human shampoos have all sorts of ingredients that may cause rashes, or even worse – an allergic reaction that can harm your dog’s coating. That would not be a pleasant experience to be associated with bathing, would it?
- Put large, coherent cotton balls into your dog’s ears so the water doesn’t get in. This can cause an infection later on.
Things to Do After Bathing
- Envelop your dog in a large towel to prevent the dog’s signature swirl-splashing. Rub the towel around just enough so that water doesn’t leak down from the hair.
- Give your dog a treat for being such a good boy/girl.
- Depending on your dog’s breed, use a hair dryer. The more powerful it is, the faster the blow dry will be over.
- You may want to consider something called – Blueberry Facial – an additional washing of your dog’s face after a bath that goes all the way to skin level, and enriches it with vitamins A, D, and E.
The Rest of the Dog Grooming
If you have mastered dog bathing, the rest is a piece of cake in comparison. All other non-bathing grooming activities include:
- Ear cleaning
There is a huge variety of dog breeds, so this is the rule of thumb when it comes to the frequency of brushing:
- Dogs with smooth and short coats – Kelpies – need just a couple of times per month.
- Dogs with dense but still short hair – Huskies – need to be brushed once per week.
- The same is true for both double-coated and long-haired dogs like Border Collies – once per week.
Dog grooming tools of the trade
When all is said and done, proper grooming supplies make all the difference, as we explained in this article, but here is a short recap of the essentials for successful dog grooming:
- Grooming table with a securing arm and bottom tray for all the grooming supplies.
- Dog toothpaste and brush – they always come in a kit.
- Dog shampoo – hypoallergenic.
- Ear cleaner spray solution for cleaning the ear canal before or after the bath.
- Brush and deshedding tool depending on your dog’s breed.
- Dog grooming glove
- Nail clippers, either mechanical for dogs, or electric nail grinders if you are afraid of cutting too much. If that happens, a cauterizing powder like Kwik Stop will save the situation.
- Hair clippers from a renowned brand, again depending on your dog breed and coat type. For ease of use, we have separate guides for shih tzus clippers, poodles shears and clippers, and then there are the heavy-duty clippers for thick dog hair
General Dog Grooming Tips
- Besides visual inspection, you can spot an infection by odor as well. An ear infection gives a musky, yeasty odor. If you have an outdoors dog who likes to dip into ponds and pools, always dry its ears thoroughly. Dogs have a very long ear canal, so accumulated water has a high likelihood of causing infection.
- Only use products designed for use with dogs; not for human use. The only exceptions are hair dryer and towel. Even wet wipes should not have any fragrance.
- Watch online videos for nail clipping your specific dog breed. If you are still not comfortable enough, get nail grinders. Same goes for hair trimming, especially when it comes to trimming intimate areas.
- Tooth plaque builds up after 48 hours, so consider brushing your dog’s teeth at least a couple of times per week. Dental hygiene is extremely important for dogs, so if neglected it will open the door for many diseases and conditions.
- Check your dog’s pads for overgrowth of hair and nails regularly. Use smaller scissors with a blunted edge for this occasion.
- Always customize your grooming tools to your dog’s breed. For instance, short-haired breeds would benefit more from bristle brushes, while long-haired breed would benefit more from sleeker brushes.
- Don’t go overboard with bathing, often wet wipes are more than enough for removing dirt and accumulated gunk from eyes.
- Don’t interfere with your dog’s coat if it stays outdoors most of the time. Needless to say, dogs with winter coats that trap air for warmth would be crippled if their hair is trimmed.
In conclusion, if you are not sure of something, make a note to visit a professional groomer with an AKC S.A.F.E certificate, or ask a veterinarian on your next checkup.