Grooming your dog is essential for their health and happiness. Messy hair, yeast infections, pain while walking and discomfort are some of the lists of things experienced by dogs when there is negligence on the owners’ part. Although learning how to groom your dog at home may seem difficult, it is, in fact, easier than you think.
Why Should You Groom Your Dog?
For starters, you should groom your dog to avoid any yeast infections. The inner ears of dogs have a lot of hair which could lead to a buildup of wax, thus causing ear infections. Grooming also involves brushing their teeth and preventing any infections in the gums.
Bad odour goes away as well when you properly groom and maintain a routine. Some signs your dog may require grooming are if they shake their head often, clicking noises caused by long nails when walking on the floor, and any other signs of emotional distress you notice due to matted or untangled hair.
Things You Will Need to Groom Your Dog
Some of the things you will need to groom your dog are:
- Faucet sprayer
- A spacious wash basin
- Bath towels
- Dog shampoo
- Adjustable-speed blow dryer
- Dog ear solution
- Long hair cutters
- Clean cotton wads
- Hair clippers and nail clippers for dogs
- Styptic powder
- A leash that is sturdy
How to Groom Your Dog at Home
Here are 10 steps to grooming your dog like a pro at home-
1. Prep Your Work-space
The first step before you even begin grooming is to prep up the work-space for grooming. You want to make sure all your grooming tools are in one place and not hunt for the items individually since it might interrupt the grooming process. Part two of the first step is to make sure your dog feels safe and comfortable before grooming. Don’t be nervous and make them feel relaxed so that they trust and feel comfortable in your hands.
2. Begin by Combing
Combing their coat is essential to untangle and remove matted hair. Use a steel comb or a slicker brush and start by working down their length. Make sure to cover the tail, head, and be careful when combing sensitive areas like the ears and belly.
3. Use Scissors for Matted Hair
Matted hair pulls the skin and leads to redness and itching when left unchecked. Get your pair of dog scissors and carefully cut the portions parallel to the area of hair growth. If you notice any pus coming out or moisture accompanied by redness, stop what you’re doing and take him to a professional dog groomer instead.
4. Make Bathing Fun
If your dog dreads taking a bath, you should make it fun. Give them some reward or a treat to ease them into bath time. If your dog is too big, give them a bath outdoors using a ramp and a bathtub. Use shampoo meant for dogs and not humans since the pH levels on human and dog skin are different. Put cotton balls in the ears to soak up the water and avoid the eyes when working up the lather. Remove any suds on their body, use your hands to massage and unclog the dirt and dust, and rinse thoroughly afterwards.
5. The Drying Stage
In the drying stage, gently dry your dog’s body using bath towels. After you pat their skin dry, you can use an adjustable or variable speed blow-dryer on a low heat setting to dry the skin and hair areas completely.
6. Shaving Your Dog
To shave your dog, you’ll have to be careful when working on the hocks, underarms, and private parts. Use a sharp blade and lay it flat on their skin, taking extra care not to let the gaps in the blade touch the stifle. If you’re not feeling confident, consult a professional dog groomer and ask him to lend you a hand.
7. Trimming the Nails
Clip the nails from a young age and practice trimming their nails as early as you can. When trimming the nails, make sure not to cut off the ‘quick’ which is the pink area. Cutting the quick leads to bleeding and discomfort. If you accidentally do cut it, use styptic power immediately and place pressure in that area to stop the blood. Don’t remove the clots when the bleeding stops though.
8. Brush Their Teeth
Brushing your dog’s teeth is easy, provided you do it right. Just take a tiny bit of dog toothpaste (fluoride-free) and start brushing their teeth with a toothbrush that’s not too sensitive. Give your dog a break if he feels agitated and takes his time when brushing.
9. Cleaning the Ears
When cleaning the ears, use a dog-specific ear cleaning solution. The wax shouldn’t build up in the inner ears and even if there’s a little, there shouldn’t be any smell. Use cotton wads to gently clean the ears, making sure not to spill in the solution. For dogs with droopy ears, wipe the ear flap insides too since dirt accumulates there.
10. Make Your Dog Feel Comfortable
The grooming process becomes a lot more uncomfortable if you don’t give your dog the care and comfort they need. Make sure to praise your dog while grooming and reassure them throughout the different stages. Give them breaks too and some treats. This not only will keep your dog distracted but also make sure the grooming ritual goes smoothly. Lastly, make this a habit. Dogs like certainty so if you groom them at certain specific intervals, they’ll learn to read those cues and recognize when it’s time to sit still.
How Often Should You Groom Your Dog?
You should groom your dog at least once a month. For younger pups, you might have to do it a few times a month or once a week so that they ease into the habit of grooming and don’t panic.
How to Make Pet Grooming an Enjoyable Experience for Your Dog
Here’s how to make the pet grooming experience enjoyable for your dog:
- Start by gently patting and stroking their skin.
- Be calm and slowly move from the chest to the shoulders, sides, and back.
- Make them feel relaxed by giving them treats during and after bath-time to associate grooming with positive rewards.
- Praise them verbally and speak in a soft tone while grooming.
- Take your dog out for a walk before bathing or grooming so that they don’t get hyperactive when it’s time to bathe.
Things You Should Not Do While Grooming Your Dog
Here are a couple of things you should not do while grooming your dog-
1. Putting Water Inside Their Ears
Wet ears mean breeding grounds for bacteria and bacteria mean infections. Watch out for this and use cotton pads to while cleaning your dog’s ears.
2. Bathing Them Every Day
Regularly bathing your dog strips their skin of essential oils. Bathing should ideally be done once a month to maintain that natural shine on their coat. After the bath, pat their hair dry with a towel and use a low setting on your blow-dryer as their skin may get scalded if the air is too hot.
3. Shaving in Summers
Not removing the tangles by combing or brushing before you begin grooming is detrimental to your dog’s well-being. And where shaving is concerned, don’t do it in the summers because dogs with undercoats face problems with regulating their body’s temperature naturally. Too much shaving may lead to patchy spots and hair follicles getting damaged, so take care of that.
4. Not Taking Your Dog to a Pro
If you suspect your dog has a bacterial infection or you mess up during the shave, take him to a professional groomer ASAP. Although the tips above will help you groom like a pro at home, we’re all human and we sometimes make mistakes. Don’t shy away from asking for help for the well-being of your pup, when needed.
These are some of the essentials of dog grooming for beginners. Try these out and let us know how it goes.