When busy, we – the dog parents can sometimes find a routine activity such as dog grooming, a mission to accomplish. Or else, we may assume that grooming our furry companions isn’t a big deal—after all, their fur looks okay, so no worries, right?
However, dog grooming is way more than just having a pretty-looking dog. It is a practice that will help you build and maintain a healthy relationship with your dog, and practice gentle leadership and obedience skills.
Grooming a dog regularly will help to address a parasitic infestation, sores, or a cut that needs medical attention, something that might not have been obvious if you hadn’t been grooming your dog.
Here’s an article that will guide you on how to groom your dog and care for her before any skin related problems crop up.
Before we go any further, let’s know what grooming actually is.
What is dog grooming ?
For new dog owners grooming a dog can be an alien task.
So, if you are a newbie, know that, dog grooming is basically cleaning your dog and maintaining hygiene for both, her as well as you. After all, as a responsible dog parent, you will want your furry kid at home to look, feel, and smell good.
Moreover, who doesn’t love to be pampered? Standard grooming is going to make your dog feel & look good, and once done, your dog is going to flash her fluffy coat (in slow-motion) and thank you, yes with lots of sass.
The grooming process involves a series of procedures, like brushing before & after bathing, shampoo & conditioning, clipping your dog’s nails to an optimal length, cleaning their paw-pads, wiping their ears and eye corners, and brushing their teeth.
Trimming off unwanted hair or removing matted hair may also be required, especially when the dog is not groomed regularly.
All these tasks come with a great responsibility so that our four-legged companions can stay clean and healthy to experience the world comfortably.
If you are ready to spare time and ample of patience, you can groom your dog at home. But if you are unsure about grooming or have a busy calendar, you can make an appointment to a professional dog groomer.
Why is grooming a dog important ?
Just as brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and getting a haircut feels satisfying and helps minimize any dental, skin, or scalp issue in the future, grooming your furry friend has a similar effect.
For example, after a play session with Coco in the yard, bathing and brushing her will double as a chance to inspect her for fleas and ticks.
Similarly, regularly cleaning your pup’s eyes with cotton dipped in clean water, or using dog wipes helps take away existing tear stains and also removes debris that could cause duct blockage.
Meanwhile, brushing your dog’s fur on a regular basis will help remove small tangles and aid in blood circulation, resulting in a healthy and shinier coat. This practice will mainly keep away matting that could develop over time which will eventually save you and your dog the frustration later.
Simply put, grooming your dog provides you an opportunity to familiarize yourself with your dog’s body and to better educate yourself on any potential problems.
What’s more, grooming not only helps your dog look and feel fabulous, it also helps keep your home clean and
fur-free. The more you brush your dog, the lesser fur will be on you and your couch.
What are the basic steps of grooming a dog ?
The dog grooming process extends way beyond a quick swipe with a brush. So, if you are wondering how to groom your dog at home, these basic steps will help you establish an at-home grooming routine with your doggo.
1. Start with preparing your supplies for you and your dog
Visit a pet store in person or online, and gather all your supplies before beginning the grooming session. This will save time and energy, and, also help your dog stay calm.
For a standard grooming you will need a brush, shampoo and conditioner, towels, hair dryer, nail clippers, ear solution and cotton swabs, toothbrush and toothpaste, and some treats.
If your dog has matted fur, you may need a special comb called a rake, to gently remove matts. If you plan to trim or cut his fur, you may wish to invest in a set of electric trimmer or simply a set of scissors.
Keep a muzzle ready, as dogs may tend to get aggressive when a sensitive part like paws or nails is touched. A muzzle will not just save you from sudden snaps and bites, but it will also calm down your dog. Use one for your Chihuahua and see how it works wonders!
2. Seek help from a sibling or friend if you need a hand
If you are a first-timer, be aware that your dog is not going to cooperate for a grooming session like you do at a parlour or spa.
While dogs came from wolves who survived the bitter cold and harsh summers in the wild, some dramatic dogs think grooming is going to kill them.
So, be ready with someone to assist you during the grooming process. This somebody will not just help you but will also help calm your anxious pooch.
3. Brush fur and loosen any matted hair
Brush before bath – golden rule for groomers!
This one step is what I personally follow unfailingly every single time I groom my dogs.
Thoroughly brushing a dog before bath helps get rid of loosened hair (hair that is already shed but stuck with good hair) and saves further matting.
There’s a misconception among dog owners that, brushing is only for long-haired dogs. Brush your dog’s hair regularly – even if it is a short-haired breed.
With regular brushing, your dog’s skin will receive proper blood circulation and as a result, she will have a healthy and shiny coat.
Plus, in this brushing process, your dog will learn to trust you and stand still while you groom her the next time.
4. Brush teeth gently or use a mouth wash
Dental hygiene is equally important for your dog like it is for you. Many dog owners say that dogs are animals and animals never brush their teeth.
But this is only true for feral or wild animals and not for domesticated ones. Dogs have been domesticated ages ago and while living with humans, dogs have been taught to eat foods that can stick to their teeth and within months can cause plaque, tartar, tooth decay, or gum disease.
Brushing your dog’s teeth with a dog-specific toothpaste and toothbrush daily or at least thrice a week will keep her teeth and gums protected from any dental issue.
My dogs did not like brushing their teeth because it was introduced too late to them, but once brushing became a part of their daily routine they began to expect and enjoy it naturally.
The idea is to introduce teeth-brushing as early as possible and as gently as you can.
You can also try to use a herbal mouth-wash for your dog’s oral care. Always seek help from a vet for the best care for your dog.
5. Shampoo, Condition & Rinse
A shampoo bath just once in 4 to 6 weeks is more than enough for a dog. Any regular dog shampoo can work for most dog breeds.
Or, if you are aware about your dog’s skin type or coat requirement, you can choose a shampoo to suit their coat accordingly.
For instance, if your dog has a sensitive coat, you can get her an Aloe Vera, Coconut, or Oatmeal dog shampoo. Or, if your dog spends most of her time in a yard or garden, you can use an anti-bacterial dog shampoo to keep fleas, ticks, and other parasites at bay.
But if your goal is just to wash off the mud and dirt, and you’re looking for an economic option, any human-baby shampoo will do.
Avoid using any human shampoos as shampoos are designed based on pH levels, and humans and dogs have very different pH balances.
For humans, the normal skin balance on the pH scale is 5.5 to 5.6, whereas dogs it is 6.2 to 7.4.
In simple words, using a human shampoo on a dog in the long run would leave their skin dry and flaky, making it more vulnerable to skin problems.
The irritation from human shampoos can encourage scratching and licking too which can soon form abrasions and wounds.
So, stick to a mild dog shampoo and cleanser to avoid putting your furry friend at risk.
Moreover, dog shampoos and cleaners are made to lather more easily than a human shampoo, which means you’ll use less dog shampoo in one wash!
6. Showers and Mats
You can use a handheld shower to rinse your dog. The gentle spray allows your dog to get used to bathing and gradually like water. Plus, a hand-spray helps get rid of every bit of shampoo out of your dog’s fur.
If you wish, you can bathe your dog in your bath tub or sink if she’s small breed.
To help your dog stand still and not slip, you can use non-slip mats in your bathroom.
Make sure you avoid getting any shampoo or water in his eyes and ears.
7. Towel and/or blow dry
Generally, towels may be enough to dry your dog’s fur completely. But for breeds with thicker, longer and fluffier coats, you can consider using a hair dryer on ‘cool’ (no heat), or specifically, a dog hair dryer.
For long-haired dogs, you can use this tip to brush again, and apply leave-in conditioner, if desired.
8. Clean ears
Always use a vet recommended ear cleaning solution and cotton swabs to clean your dog’s ears.
Some ear cleaning solutions are so safe and easy to use that you just need to gently pour a small amount in your dog’s ears and massage her ears for a few seconds. Your dog will automatically shake off the liquid inside and the job will be done.
Other ear cleansers can be used to gently clean in and around your dog’s ears to prevent the growth of bacteria.
A dog’s ears are very sensitive, so be very gentle and patient when it comes to the ear-cleaning part while grooming the dog.
9. Trim nails
To trim your dog’s nails, you can use a dog nail clipper or nail grinder. While working with a nail clipper, it is really important to clip the nail quickly because working too slowly can lead to cracked nails.
Also, we must take care not to clip the live part of the nail which is precisely called the ‘quick’ (pinkish part inside the white nail).
Note that, on white nails, the quick appears to be pink in colour. But for dogs that have black nails, you will see a black dot on the tip of the nail when you are close to the quick.
Clipping a dog’s nails can be intricate for beginners, there are chances of accidents. So, if you accidentally clip the quick of your dog’s nail, you will see the nail bleed.
Keep a styptic powder or use some organic turmeric to stop the bleeding immediately.
Dogs usually don’t like their nails to be clipped mostly because they have been handled in a wrong way or have had accidents in the past.
So, make sure you your dog is comfortable, and if she allows only one paw at a time, do the rest some other day.
Meanwhile, you can clean her paw-pads if needed. Dogs’ paws can collect mud, dirt, pebbles, thorns, and grit from walks in the outdoors or yards.
10. Clip any extra fur
If your dog needs a trim, clip off the extra fur with scissors designed especially for dog grooming or you use a trimmer for better results.
Trimmers can be used to clear paw-pads of fluffy dog breeds like Spitz and Retrievers.
Give your dog a new haircut for summers to keep her cool and make sure you don’t make her bald. She needs fur to save her from the scorching heat in summers and keep her warm in winters.
If you are not sure you can handle cutting or trimming your dog’s fur, do not take the risk as it may injure her skin. Educate yourself to work confidently with these tools or seek professional help.
11. Give treats and praise your dog
After you spray your pretty dog with her favourite dog-cologne, don’t forget to praise and treat her for being such a good girl throughout the grooming session.
You can also take her for a short walk nearby or play with her with her favourite toy.
How often to groom a dog ?
How often you should groom your dog depends on two things – breed and need.
Long-haired dog breeds, working dog breeds, and naughty dogs like mine who are always rolling in mud in the garden, may need more frequent grooming sessions compared to others.
Moreover, from baths to haircuts, we know that grooming includes various steps. Not all steps need to be repeated every single time you groom you dog.
For instance, if we talk about baths, most dogs can easily be okay without a bath for around 3 weeks to 4 weeks or so. Normally, bathing a dog once in 4 to 6 weeks is all that’s needed to keep her coat healthy.
But brushing and combing a dog’s fur is an all-time ‘yes’ to bring out its natural shine.
And, if a dog had a haircut in April, it should not need one until May-June.
Trimmings, yes! That will be needed according to fur growth.
Who are professional dog groomers ?
Your dog is going to get dirty, shed fur, grow fur, nails, and have dirty teeth and ears. It’s all natural, and needs a reasonable amount of your time and patience.
Since you now know about the various steps of dog grooming, you have a clear idea of what dog groomers do.
Dog grooming may sound an easy job for experienced dog parents, but keeping up with the routine through every season along with work and business may sometimes be difficult.
And, let me be blunt, dog grooming tools and products do not go easy on your pocket.
From n-number of combs and brushes for specific uses, de-shedding tools, varieties of shampoos ranging from regular use to skin treatment ones, cold blow dryers, clippers, trimmers, towels and tubs, the list just gets bigger.
Professional dog groomers have a whole grooming set up and all the world’s patience to deal with your dog.
So, if the weather is too cold to give your dog a bath, don’t just let him smell and get sick in one corner, take her to a dog groomer. The groomer will be able to dry your dog thoroughly within minutes with professional pet dryers.
This will not only save you time and energy, but also your pocket from that long list of dog grooming products and tools.
As a dog parent from the past 24 years, I will not lie that it takes a lot of care and patience to groom a dog, especially a fluffy one, a puppy, or one with behavioural issues.
I have had all three types of dogs mentioned above, and here’s what happened to me, I became a professional groomer.
Dog grooming mistakes
No matter how much we love to groom our dogs, there are some common mistakes dog owners make concerning the dog grooming process:
- Inadequate information about dog grooming process
- Not completely understanding dog behaviour
- No idea about dog breeds
- Improper tools & products
- Putting shampoo or water directly on the dog’s face
- Forcing or mishandling the dog during grooming
- Unprepared to deal with fleas & ticks
- Impatient with barks & whines
- Not seeking professional help
It’s a 100% fact that dog grooming for some dog parents can be challenging at the beginning. But, with time and over, your dog will gradually learn to love the grooming process, provided it is done right.
Certain dog breeds like Huskies can be really loud and dramatic on grooming days, so a few personal tips on grooming similar breeds would save your eardrums and energy – make sure you eat well before the grooming session, be equipped prior to getting hold of the dog, exert your dog with a play session or a long walk before the grooming session, and be sure you make your dog like the grooming process as much as possible.
If everything fails, seek professional help, for the dog groomers are armed and qualified to bear all the tantrums, barks, and protests of a dog.
Happy Grooming to your dog, and dog bless the dog groomer!
Share this very informative and important article with all the dog parents out there.