How to Groom a Dog: 5 Dos and 5 Don’ts
Some people prefer to take their dog to a professional for grooming while others prefer to do it themselves. But, regardless of your own preference, every dog owner should know how to groom a dog and to do so effectively.
It might seem redundant if you fit into the category of dog owners who like to leave things in a professional’s hands, but that’s not exactly true. You might take your dog with you when you go on a longer vacation and you can’t find a groomer there. Your dog will still need to be groomed, and if you don’t know how to do it right, you could end up hurting them.
On the other hand, if you’ve been grooming your dog yourself, you may think that you don’t need any additional instructions on how to do it. Even so, you should at least keep an open mind and be ready to take suggestions because you could potentially learn a new thing or two and improve your skills.
With that in mind, we recommend that you stick around for a while and check out what we have prepared for you. So let’s move on to talking about dog grooming and its five dos and don’ts every dog owner should know.
Five Dos of DIY Dog Grooming
It’s always best to start with instructions on how you should do something, and once that is covered, move on to what you shouldn’t do. The other way around would probably make things very confusing, especially for someone who is a complete beginner in the field. Having said that, let’s take a look at the top five dos of DIY dog grooming.
Number one: Brush your dog’s hair regularly
In this case, regularly means on a daily basis, or if you don’t have enough free time, once in every two days. All dogs shed, some dog breeds shed more than the others while some might seem like they don’t shed at all, but sure enough, they do. Depending on the season, your dog will shed less or more, but you should definitely brush them in both cases, don’t skip out on the process just because you think that there’s no need for it.
If you don’t brush your dog’s hair regularly, you increase the risk of them developing mats or other similar health issues like skin irritations or infections. Strands of loose hair will get entangled with the strands that aren’t loose, thus producing mats that are basically an ideal environment for bacteria or fungus growth and are hard to get rid of. Brushing prevents that.
When choosing an appropriate brush for your dog, you should consider the type of coat that they have. You can find brushes specifically designed for curly hair, long hair, short hair, double coated hair and so on.
Once you have found the adequate model and purchased it, have your dog get familiar with it first and then use it on them.
Always put an old towel underneath the dog before brushing, it will help you contain the hairs in one place more easily.
And don’t forget, brushing their coat excessively might cause a counter effect, because you could end up plucking the hairs that aren’t loose instead of removing only the loose ones.
Number two: Trim your dog’s nails
This is a bit tricky and difficult task, but if you’re patient enough and careful enough, you shouldn’t have any problems with it. You can do this with two different tools, it all depends on which one you feel the most comfortable with when using it.
One of them is an electric nail grinder or a nail file and it doesn’t cut the nails but instead just grinds them down to the desired length. The other one is a tool that’s pretty much a pair of scissors, shears, or a miniature guillotine designed to cut the nails cleanly and swiftly.
Regardless of which one you decide to go with, the process of cutting the nails is about the same. You need to be careful not to nick the vein that goes along the center of the nail, which means that you absolutely mustn’t cut or grind too deep.
If you accidentally do nick it, even barely, there will be a lot of blood everywhere, so try to keep your calm and take your dog to the veterinarian immediately, just in case.
Number three: Trim your dog’s hair when necessary
If your dog’s hair touches the ground when they’re standing, you should cut it right away. Otherwise, it will drag along the ground and collect all of the dirt off of it. This can cause some skin and hair issues relatively quickly and you don’t want that to happen.
You can use a pair of electric dog clippers for thick coats to cut the hair or you can do it the old fashioned way with a pair of shears and a comb, whichever works best for you.
Pay special attention to small details that shouldn’t be overlooked, like clipping the hairs that can go in the dog’s eyes if left untouched, or trimming the hairs between and underneath the paw pads, as well as those around their ankles, both of which tend to accumulate dirt when their length is longer than it should be.
Never cut the hair in winter, otherwise your dog will feel chilly and quite possibly catch a cold due to poor insulation.
Number four: Bathe your dog
Once you notice that your dog has attained a weird odor and that their coat has become too dirty from mud or dirt, it’s time to give them a bath. You can do it in a bathtub or outside in a portable plastic tub, depending on the season and the weather conditions.
Before that you should go to a pet store and buy the appropriate shampoo and soap, preferably those that are specifically meant for your dog’s breed. Apart from that you don’t really need anything else, just some warm water, or lukewarm water, a towel and that’s it. Maybe a hair dryer as well, it will help you to dry your dog’s coat much faster than a towel.
Never bathe your dog outside in the winter, and don’t bathe them too often because there’s no need for it and it might make their skin extremely sensitive and irritable.
Number five: Regularly clean their ears and teeth
This is a very simple thing to do yet a lot of pet owners somehow end up forgetting to take care of it. Using a normal wet wipe, gently clean the insides of their ear canal with your fingertips every once in a while, or use an ear cleaner, a special product made specifically for this.
When cleaning their teeth, use a plain gauze and rub their teeth and gums with it from top to bottom. You can do this every day but if you don’t have enough free time for it, once in every two or three days will be enough as well.
Using a toothpaste, or a dog toothpaste to be more precise, together with a dog toothbrush is also a good way to go, so consider this as the means for keeping your dog’s teeth clean as well.
Five Don’ts of DIY Dog Grooming
Now we’ll talk about a few things that should be avoided when grooming your dog, and a few common mistakes that dog owners might make when taking care of their dog’s needs. You want your dog to be happy and healthy, so try to remember all of these and you’ll be halfway there.
Number one: Never bathe a dog who has mats
This is a common mistake that a lot of dog owners often make. To be fair, they aren’t making it intentionally, they just want the best for their dog and usually try to get rid of mats this way but it ends up backfiring and resulting in the exact opposite, worsening of the mats.
When long, entangled dog hair gets wet, it tends to get even more entangled and not clean at all. It also retains moisture for some time, which attracts bacteria and causes infections fairly quickly. Even if you use a towel or blow dry the coat, it will still remain moist. Therefore, if your dog has mats in their coat, avoid bathing them until the mats are completely gone.
Number two: Don’t try to remove the mats yourself
Mats might seem harmless and simple but they’re pretty much the exact opposite of that. Removing them is no easy task, and if you try to take care of them yourself with scissors or grooming clippers, you will most likely end up accidentally hurting your four-legged furry friend in the process.
You can get a special tool for removing mats and try it out, but it may not help much, especially if your dog has a curly hair coat. Your best bet is to take it to a professional pet groomer and let them take care of it. They have enough experience to be able to avoid harming the dog, and they have all of the necessary tools to finish the job quickly.
Number three: Don’t forget to train your dog on time
If you teach your dog that grooming is a good thing while they’re still a puppy, you won’t have any problems with your dog’s behavior when you take them to a dog groomer, but also when you take them to the veterinarian.
Dogs who aren’t trained this way will be afraid of the tub, the grooming table, the dog clippers, pin brush, and all of the other grooming supplies. Even though you can take certain steps to reduce the grooming stress for an adult dog, it is much easier to train a puppy. This will also prove itself to be very helpful when you decide to do the grooming yourself. When a small dog struggles it’s easy to hold them steady while you finish the pet grooming, but when you have to work with one of the larger dog breeds, just the size of the dog’s body can be troublesome, let alone its bad behavior.
Number four: Don’t use a shampoo for humans when bathing your dog
Dogs have a really sensitive skin, much more sensitive when compared to ours, so if you decide to wash them with your own shampoo, you’ll most likely irritate their skin and cause them discomfort. Their eyes are also delicate so if some of the human shampoo gets in them, it will cause them pain and discomfort. The insides of their ears is pretty much the same, which again means that shampoo for humans will do nothing but irritate it.
Shampoo for dogs exists for a reason, and if it were identical to the shampoo for humans, it wouldn’t have to exist. In other words, use the shampoo that’s specifically created and meant for keeping dogs as clean as possible. Oh and don’t use other beauty products either, like perfumes, moisturizers, blueberry facial masks, makeup, and other stuff like that.
#5: Never act as a veterinarian’s replacement
Grooming your dog allows you to take a really good look at them, so you might notice something you haven’t noticed before. If by chance, you see a foreign object in their eyes, ears or nose, don’t try to remove it yourself. Also, if you see some cuts or injuries, don’t try to heal them, that’s not your field of expertise, so you could potentially make things even worse.
In such a scenario, you shouldn’t think twice about what you have to do next, just go straight to the veterinarian and listen to their advice.
With these 5 do and don’t dog grooming tips, we have showed you everything that’s important to keep in mind when you are grooming your pet. In other words, now you know exactly how to groom a dog and what to keep an eye out for, as well as what you should avoid doing. So go ahead and enjoy bonding with your furry friend by keeping them clean and healthy and most importantly, happy.
About the Author: Tara is a contributor to TheDogTrainingSecret.com and the founder of TRIMepil.com, a great resource for your dog grooming supplies.