DIY Dog grooming: learn to do it the correct way
If you are planning to groom your dog at home, you need
to know the basic steps and the dos and don’ts of dog grooming.
Every dog guardian understands the importance of a proper dog grooming. A nice and good groom will help your dog relax and feel at his or her best. It will also make you want to snuggle with your fur baby a little longer and a little more.
Regular grooming sessions also allow you to have a look into your dog’s eyes, teeth, nails, coat and ears for any signs of problems. Grooming is a great way to detect any external physical issue at the early stages. This allows you to get treatment at the right point of time and prevent the disease from growing any further. Grooming also allows you to closely inspect your dog’s skin for any signs of rashes, skin irritation, fleas, ticks, dry spots or injuries. How often you would need to groom your dog will depend on your dog’s breed, size as well as the type of fur coat he or she is endowed with.
Due to the occurrence of COVID-19, a lot of countries are under complete lockdown or partial lockdown. Under such conditions, many dog grooming salons might be closed or might be taking in less appointments. Furthermore, since a lot of dog guardians are on a work from home schedule at the moment, they have more time to spend with the fur babies and possibly even engage in a few dog grooming sessions at home. In case the grooming salons close to your location are not open or are unserviceable currently, you can groom your dog yourself. Grooming your dog not only makes your dog feel better and relaxed, it also gives you a chance to bond with your dog and understand his or her needs better.
However, if you do decide to groom your dog at home, in this, I have combined some DIY tips as well as advice from the professionals here to make the grooming process as smooth as possible for both you and your dog.
How to get started with the process of grooming your dog at home:
Many blog posts you come across on the internet will directly focus on the items needed for dog grooming. However, there is a certain level of bonding as well as preparation needed before you start the process of grooming your dog. Even though there might be many dog guardians who have successfully groomed or are grooming their dogs at home itself, for someone who is new to the process of dog grooming, you need to spend a bit of time as well as effort on your part to get your dog completely comfortable with the grooming process at home.
Your dog trusts you with all the major decisions of his or her life. However, he or she may still have his or her own opinions about the minor things. Hence, taking into account your dog’s comfortability is of utmost importance in the process of grooming. You must address your dog’s concerns before you start with the grooming process at home. It is imperative that your dog understands your behavior and trusts you on what you are doing, for example been touched in your dog’s sensitive spots. Do not start with the grooming process on the first day. First, get your dog used to the touch and feel of instruments you will be using for grooming. This process may take a few days. Following this, you can embark on the journey of grooming, but remember to start things slow and don’t force your dog into anything he or she does not want to do. Use lots of treats, rewards, kisses (whatever is favorable to your dog) and make him or her feel comfortable at all times during the process.
One final thing to remember when grooming is that your dog can pick up on your emotions. If you are stressed or nervous, this nervousness or stress will get transferred to your dog and he or she will also start to feel nervous and might become aggressive. If your dog shows signs of distress during grooming process, stop immediately and let him or her become comfortable before you start again.
Now let’s discuss the actual process of grooming itself.
How to brush your dog’s teeth?
Not many articles will focus on brushing your dog’s teeth. However, dogs hold and carry everything by their mouth. Teeth is the maximally used organ by a dog. However, it is also the most neglected. Some groomers brush your dog’s teeth as a part of the grooming process while others do not. If you are grooming your dog at home, I’d suggest, you brush your dog’s teeth as a part of the grooming process and otherwise as well. A lot of dog guardians opt for dental chews over regular brushing because it is hard to brush their dog’s teeth. I understand this very well. However, there are ways to get the job done without getting into a wrestling match with your dog.
Check out this blog post on dental chews vs teeth brushing. Which is a better option?
Here are a few tips to get your dog used to the process of brushing teeth every day:
Get your dog used to the feeling of brush during the puppy stages. At this point your dog is easier to manage while you brush his or her teeth. This will get your dog used to the feel of brushing and will help him or her get used to brushing every day. This will prevent your dog from resisting the process of brushing when he or she grows up.
Use a fluoride free toothpaste. Dogs tend to swallow the toothpaste. It’s not possible for dogs to throw out the toothpaste like humans. Therefore, always buy a fluoride free toothpaste for your dog.
Here is a bonus tip. If you are starting to brush your dog’s teeth and your dog is a fighter against teeth brushing, brush your dog’s teeth when he or she is the most tired like after a long walk or exercise or when your dog is sleeping. These are the times when your dog is likely to resist the brushing process the least. This way, you can get the job done without having to get into a huge fight with your dog.
Remember to brush your dog’s teeth every day or at least four times in a week. This is the only way your dog will learn to adjust to the process of brushing. If you decide to brush your dog’s teeth once a month, your dog will fight tooth and nail to get the toothbrush out of his or her mouth.
Caring for your dog’s paws:
This is another part which is not included in the grooming process done by most professional groomers. However, your dog stays barefoot almost all the time. When he or she goes for walks or hikes or runs, the entire pressure of the body is on the paws. Paws should be taking care of, on an everyday basis, not just during grooming. Always clean your dog’s paws once he or she comes in from outside. After cleaning, rub some paw pad cream on all the paws.
Check out this article on dog paw pad care
I don’t use any commercial paw pad creams. What I do instead is clean Delta’s paws the moment he enters the house. Following this, I rub some coconut oil on his paws. I also use this moment to massage the coconut oil on all of his legs. After this I apply Aloe Vera get to the pads of all four paws. Aloe Vera has antibacterial antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It not only protects the paw pads from any kind of infection, it also softens the paw pads and provides relief from any kind of irritation, rashes, blisters and gives an overall cool and soothing effect to the paw. Caring for Delta’s paw pads and brushing his teeth is an everyday ritual for me.
Clean your dog’s ears:
Remember to focus on your dog’s ears as well. Ear infection can cause a lot of problems to dogs. Periodically check your dog’s ears for wax buildup or presence of any black substance (sign of ear infection) in his or her ear. To clean your dog’s ear, put some coconut oil on a cotton swab and just clean the outer region of the ear. Do not attempt to clean the inner ear canal of your dog. You may damage your dog’s ear in the process.
Check out this blog post on dog ear infection.
Clean the dog tear stains:
dog tear stains can be a huge problem for dogs who are endowed with a light-colored fur. There are many causes behind dog tear stains. Check out this article on dog tear stains and the causes behind the same. Cleaning your dog’s tear stains is a very easy process.
Check out this article where I have mentioned the recipes of two homemade dog tearstain removers
How to get your dog used to the process of body brushing and bathing?
Dogs do not like it when something foreign touches their body. Hence, introduce the brush to your dog first, let him or her sniff the brush and get accustomed to the brush. Once your dog is comfortable with the brush, transfer the brush to your dog’s coat and allow him or her to get used to the feeling of the brush touching the fur. Do not start brushing your dog’s coat yet. Reward your dog with plenty of treats and encouragement for good behavior.
Once your dog gets used to the feel of brushing, start brushing your dog’s coat on a daily basis. You can do this after your dog returns home from a walk. During the walk or when your dog was outside, he or she may have picked up dirt, grass etc. Therefore, after walk is the best time to give your dog’s coat a thorough brushing. Brushing allows you to get the dirt out. It also allows you to remove any ticks or fleas if they have attached to your dog’s fur. Ticks can cause several diseases in dogs.
If you are planning to bathe your dog, it is always preferable to brush your dog’s coat first. Brushing gets rid of the grass, dirt etc. which may have attached to your dog’s fur coat especially if the dog was just outside. If you give your dog a bath without brushing, chances are that the bath may not be able to get rid of all the dirt and grime from your dog.
In order to get you dog used to the grooming process, brush your dog on an everyday basis and brush your dog while he or she is standing as would be in the case if the dog was at the groomers.
While bathing your dog, always go for a high quality, natural ingredients-based dog shampoo. Yes, they may be a little expensive, but they are worth it. Inexpensive shampoos have a higher chance of containing harsh chemicals. Experts also recommend to dilute the shampoo with a little bit of water before applying it on your dog so that the shampoo can be rinsed off quickly. Remember to not let water get into your dog’s ear as this may lead to infection later. If your dog is amicable, you can put a shower cap on him or her to protect the ears.
It might be hard to get your dog used to bathing the first second or third time around. Remember to ask someone [who your dog knows and trusts] to help hold your dog while you carry out the grooming procedure. The purpose of having a person assist you whom your dog knows is that, it would reduce your dog from feeling any kind of stress or panic.
Post bath, dry your dog as well as you can with a towel. Then, use a hairdryer to dry out the fur completely. If your dog is terrified of the sound of the hairdryer or just does not like the feel of the dryer, dry him or her out as much as possible by the use of towels. You might need 3 to 4 towels to get the job done.
How to cut your dog’s hair?
Once you have bathed your dog, the next step is to cut your dog’s hair. Make sure your dog is completely dry before you start to cut his or her hair. Do not shave your dog. No matter how hot the weather might be, shaving your dog is never an option. If there is a need, groomers would shave the private parts of your dog but never the back regions or the whole body. The fur not only protects your dog from cold weather, it also gives your dog protection against dryness and heat. Fur coat maintains your dog’s body temperature. It has been observed that if the fur is removed completely, the dog is at a risk of developing skin rashes, sunburns, skin cancer, suffering from heat stroke etc. Shaving of fur can also result in improper hair growth and follicle damage in future.
To give your dog a trim, you can either use professional shears or clippers. You can also buy a grooming table so that you can secure your dog while you do his or her haircut. When trimming your dog, remember to only use the tip of the shop shears for trimming of the face, tail and feet. This is done so that if your dog suddenly moves during the haircut, there are less chances of your dog getting hurt. Start small, get your dog used to the feeling and then cut for a longer time. Remember to keep rewarding your dog with lots of treats and praises during the process. Another thing to remember is that your dog’s fur coat should not be cut to levels which are less than an inch as this will expose your dog to sunburn as well as bug bites.
When you are trimming your dog’s ear, always have your hand at the edge of your dog’s ear so that you know that you are only cutting the hair and you do not hurt the ear by mistake.
If your dog is suffering from matted fur, do not try to cut it with scissors. Directly go for the clippers and remove the matt.
Shaving your dog
As I said before you should never shave your dog if your dog has a good fur quality. However, sometimes conditions warrant the need for shaving. If your dog’s fur has matted to the point where brushing, combing or shampooing will not get rid of the matt and when the matt is at a risk of becoming breeding region for bacteria and parasites, then shaving your dog is the only option. However, this should be done by a professional groomer and should not be done at home under any circumstances unless you are a dog groomer yourself.
To get the private part of your dog shaved, consider going to a groomer. With shaving there’s a higher risk of hurting your dog, thus, it is not advised to do it at home on your own.
Trimming your dog’s nails
Trimming should only be done if you feel confident enough to do so. If you are not confident about trimming your pup’s nails, take him or her to groomer. Before you use clippers or nail grinder or dremmel on your dog, get your dog used to the clippers or dremmel noise. If your dog is endowed with white colored nails, then cut or grind till you see the pink region. If your dog has black nails, clip very little at a time till you notice a solid black region on the top of your dog’s nails.
If you are using clippers, close them quickly. Clip very slowly but do not use dull clippers as they can cause splitting as well as chipping of the nails. If you decide to use a nail grinder, remember to go slowly and stop just before reaching the pink part. If you do land up chipping more than required and your dog is bleeding, use this styptic powder to immediately stop the bleeding.
Check out the article on bleeding in dogs and how to stop them
Before you start with grooming your dog, make sure that you are ready with the following items:
- a shedding tool comb or a brush [this depends on your dogs fur coat]
- a grooming table accompanied with an arm. The arm helps to secure your dog to the table. Remember to never leave your pup unattended when he or she is on the table.
- grooming clippers [go for number 10 blade to avoid cutting your dog’s skin}
- nail clippers or nail grinder or dremmel
- grooming shears
- styptic powder (in case there is any occurrence of a nail bleed)
A few pointers to remember WHAT NOT TO DO during the grooming process:
- Do not attempt to do everything in one sitting on in one day. Make it fun and engaging for your dog. Divide the tasks into shorter sessions and spread them out over a few days.
- Remember to not skip the eyes, ears or paw pads.
- Do not use you human grooming tools on your dog.
Remember to groom your dog on a frequent basis. Grooming your dog on a regular basis will allow your dog get used to the grooming process. Grooming also acts as a bonding time. It helps your dog to develop and cement the trust he or she has towards you. Another point to remember is that make the grooming session a fun process which your dog would love to engage. Grooming time should not be traumatizing for your dog by any means.
Do you groom your dog at home? What are the instruments you use for the same? Is there any every day ritual you have for your dog like I do? Let me know in the comment section below. If you have any queries feel free to put it down in the comment section. I will address it as soon as possible. If you have any stories or anecdotes you want to share with the world, feel free to contact me on any of my social media channels. I would love to share your stories with the world.
See you in my next blog post