While it may seem like a daunting task at first, with the right equipment and a little bit of guidance, you can achieve the same results as your groomer, but from home!
Grooming your dog at home should not mean you have to sacrifice on quality. By addressing all the different components of the grooming process and using the right tools, you can acheive the same look as a professional.
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Why should I groom my dog?
Regular grooming is important for your dog, and also serves as a health check. Some breeds require more complete grooming on a regular basis, while other breeds will be more reliant on regular coat and teeth brushings, and other small maintenance tasks.
When your dog is professionally groomed, many routine areas that might be neglected can be addressed such as ear cleanings, paw trimmings or anal gland expression.
In order to groom your dog like a professional, you will need to set up a schedule appropriate to your dogs needs, and make sure that all of their grooming and hygiene needs are met.
Choosing to groom your dog by yourself can have a number of advantages such as saving money, lessening your dogs stress or anxiety and ensuring that your dog gets the exact treatment and cut that is desired.
What equipment do I need?
One of the most important things all professionals recommend, is to have high quality equipment. This helps make each step of the grooming process easier, for both you and your dog!
Important to remember is that each tool should be selected to meet the needs of your dogs breed, and applying the wrong tool could result in more frustration than help.
The Grooming Process
Every dog will have different needs, but generally, brushing, bathing, trimming/clipping and cleaning (eyes, ears and teeth) are the key parts to the grooming process.
One of the first steps in the grooming process is to thoroughly brush your dog to help get any matting or tangled fur addressed prior to bathing. This is also something that should be done about every 2-3 days as a part of your maintenance grooming.
Frequent brushing can help keep your dogs coat healthy, but also helps them get used to the grooming process, and gives the owner a chance to conduct important health checks.
These checks can include looking for tics, cuts, or debris caught in the fur, and quickly notice any changes that occur.
Brushes vary based on the length of fur your dog has, with bristle brushes typically better for shorter fur, and softer bristles or combs better for longer fur. Finding the right brush for your dogs needs will make this part of the process that much easier.
There are many varieties of shampoos for dogs, and many formulated to address certain skin conditions or different coats. This is another aspect of the grooming process that should be highly customized to your dogs needs.
Unfortunately, showers and bathtubs in our homes are not usually designed to accomodate dogs well, which can add to the stress of the grooming experience. There are many tools that can help with optimizing your set-up!
- Bathing tables or platforms: These will help your dog feel more stable, and help you control their movements better.
- Stairs, ramps or assistive devices: Save your back and make accessing your bathtub easier on you and your dog.
- Shower attachments: Specialized attachments for your bathtub or shower can help make a shower-like spray which gives you more control during the rinsing process.
Addressing tear stains, or dogs with white coats presents different challenges. Their fur can absorb the color in the shampoo (paricularly blues or purples), so carefully choosing the right product is important. If needed, whitening shampoos are also available in addition to specialized wipes.
Trimming and Clipping
When deciding how to trim your dogs coat, reference the breed standards and study their appearance. Having a plan before you start cutting is important, as well as going with the grain and taking the time to do it right is the key to success!
Investing in high quality shears or clippers can make a big difference in how the grooming process goes.
These may cost more up front, but it can help make sure that you are cutting their coat to the desired length, not inadvertently cutting the dog or yourself, and can safely trim some of the more delicate areas on your dog.
Cleaning and Hygiene
Nail trimming, dental hygiene, anal gland expression, ear and eye cleaning are all other areas that should be regularly addressed during grooming.
For nail trimming, you want to use nail clippers appropriate for your dogs size (scissor style or large nail clippers). If your dog is nervous or not comfortable with these tools though, then nail files or a dremel can be used to make the process easier.
Ear cleaning should only be done as needed, which varies by breed. If your dog is shaking their head more, there is a mild odor or a visible change in the ear, then it is likely they are due to be cleaned. Redness or irritation can indicate a need see a vet though.
Using a topical astringent or an ear cleaning solution from your vet is the best bet, as well as thoroughly drying the canal.
Anal gland expression should only occur on an as needed basis, and if they are infected or impacted–a veterinarian should be involved. For more routine anal gland expression though, this can be done at home with the use of an exam glove and possibly some lube.
Dental hygiene should not be ignored, and can cause many health issues later in life if not properly addressed. Getting a toothpaste and toothbrushes appropriate for dogs, and helping your dog get used to this will help make this process easier. There is a wide variety of products available for dental hygiene, from brushes that can be worn on a finger, to different flavored toothpastes and specially designed chews.