They may not all love it, but making sure your best friend’s coat remains thick, healthy and free from dirt and bacteria that can otherwise lead to skin irritation is an important part of their well-being.
Many owners prefer a hand-off approach and hire professional groomers, but if you want to learn how to groom a dog, you may be surprised to learn that it’s not as hard as many make out.
Before you bathe your dog for a good trim, there’s a few things that need to be taken care of first:
- Try to brush out any tangles and clumps with a comb as these can form knots during the grooming process that may end up needing to be cut out.
- Use the nail clippers to shorten their claws – but remember to only remove a maximum of 1/16th inch at a time, as taking too much can breach the lining of the blood vessel causing bleeding and a rather disgruntled dog.
- Clear your dog’s eyes using dedicated eye wipes to clean out any potential irritants and tear stains.
- Use the scissors to remove any stubborn areas of matting that won’t brush out, being sure to only do away with what is necessary.
- Use ear-cleaning solution and cotton swabbing to remove the excess dirt and wax from the outer ear. Make sure you only clean what you can see, and never push any object into the inner ear. When you’re done, dry the area with tissue or dry cotton balls.
- Using specially formulated dog toothpaste (free from fluoride), use your fingers to rub a little onto your furry friend’s gums and teeth, and if they are happy to continue, use a special dog-friendly toothbrush or finger-brush to gently remove any plaque or tartare from the gum line and between neighbouring teeth.
Of course, it is vitally important that your dog is comfortable, or at the very least, not in a state of anxiety during the aforementioned steps. Simply ensure that he or she is rewarded throughout each process, and praised for their patience.
Bath-time for dogs
Next, it’s the dreaded trip to the bath. While some doggos love the feeling of warm water and the attention they receive alongside it, for many it’s a miserable experience – even though it’s an important part of how to groom a dog. So again, make sure you’ve got plenty of treats on hand.
- Ideally, use a non-slip bathing mat so your pal can enjoy a feeling of stability during the bathing process.
- Despite some owners running a shallow bath with the plug in, it is considered better practice to use a hand-shower attachment instead - without a plug in the drain. The reason for this is that once the shampoo is rinsed off, any residual product should be flushed away as opposed to being left to soak back into the fur and skin.
- Using the hand-shower, gently soak your dog using lukewarm water at a low pressure and massage it in using your fingers and hands.
- Use a liberal amount of dog-shampoo and gently work the product into the fur, starting at your dog’s neck and working your way down to the rear legs.
- If your dog is prone to knots and matting, try using the comb to work through any problem areas.
- Leave your dog’s face until last, and only use shampoo that is specially formulated to not cause eye irritation. If you don’t have any to hand, a simple wet cloth or towel can help to achieve fantastic results.
- Start rinsing with the shower attachment, using your hands and fingers to make sure that every last soapy sud has been removed. Any shampoo that is left in your dog’s coat can lead to skin irritation when dry.
- Using a dry towel, rub your dog’s coat to remove the majority of the water. If your dog is a long-haired breed, it may also be worth using a hair-dryer on low power and heat to remove every last bit of moisture.
Time for a cut
Knowing how to correctly groom a dog is entirely dependent on the breed. Certain breeds such as poodles, shih tzus, and cocker spaniels are easy to trim on a regular basis using electronic clippers, while other dogs fare much better with the use of a simple pair of scissors.
- If you do use electric clippers, ensure that the manufacturer’s guidelines are followed and that the blades are clean, sharp and oiled to prevent jams and excessive pulling of hair.
- If you choose to utilise scissors, purchase specialist safety scissors with round-ended blades to prevent any potential accident.
- If using clippers, try to go in the direction of the hair growth in a slow steady motion that allows the dog to relax, and work your way all over the coat from the neck down. Try to avoid large size clipper teeth which could allow delicate areas such as the throat or leg tendons to get caught in the blades.
- If using scissors, be conservative regarding how much hair you remove as unlike clippers, scissors can leave a much less uniformed look if used incorrectly. Furthermore, it is not advised to use scissors in close proximity to your dog’s eyes in case of sudden movements resulting in possible injury.
- If you are giving the hair around your pup’s feet a trim, try combing it backwards, pin the excess between two fingers and clip with a pair of scissors
- With many breeds, owners aim to go for a ‘classic pedigree look’. Without decent training however, it can often be hard to achieve the desired appearance and so it may be worth consulting a professional.
It’s important to remember that the earlier in life your dog encounters a new experience such as grooming, the more comfortable they will be with it once they are fully grown – so start early! It’s also worth mentioning that the frequency with which you need to groom your dog is entirely down to the breed. Short-haired dogs such as Staffordshire bull terriers rarely need grooming, but can still benefit from regular bathing. Conversely, breeds such as Pekingese and sheepdogs tend to require a much more regular trip to the grooming table.
Buy the correct tools for the job
Looking for the right tools to give your dog a trim at home? Have a look at our selection of grooming accessories and help keep your furry friend’s coat in tip-top condition.