Dog Grooming: What to Do and How to Do It!

This article is about the basics of dog grooming. For more details about specific dog grooming topics, click a link below:

Bathing Your Dog Brushing Your Dog
Cutting Your Dog’s Nails Dog Clipping
Dog Dental Care Dog Ear Cleaning
Dog Eye Problems Flea & Tick Control

 

No matter what breed of dog you have, everything I’ll talk about, both on this page and in the above links, is mandatory. This dog grooming information applies to every breed of dog. Here are a few words to justify each of them:

  • Bathing your dog on the right schedule kills odors and improves the health of their skin and coat.
  • Brushing your dog stimulates blood flow to the skin, controls shedding, removes ticks and fleas, and prevents skin infections.
  • Cutting your dog’s nails prevents several health problems. This includes infections in their paws, lameness, and joint pain. It also protects your furniture.
  • Dog clipping prevents matting in longer-haired dogs, and by extension that means it prevents skin infections.
  • Dog dental care, where the main factor is brushing your dog’s teeth. Dogs need their teeth brushed just as much as we do! Tooth brushing prevents gum disease, tooth rot, and bad breath.
  • Dog ear cleaning prevents infections, which can happen very easily. Also, basic ear wax can cause a dog to hurt themselves as they desperately claw at their ears to remove it.
  • Dog eye problems can arise if you don’t clean your dog’s eyes every day – eye problems are another very common health concern in almost every breed of dog.
  • Flea and tick control is also essential to preventing diseases and, of course, itching. Prevention is the best way to deal with fleas and ticks.

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Dog grooming is simply part of being a humane dog owner. Once your dog is used to his grooming routine, it’ll be quick and painless to maintain your best friend. Compared to dealing with hot spots and flea infestations, even the first dog bath will be a cinch.

This level of dog grooming isn’t “above and beyond” what the dog would get in the wild. Wild wolves do most of that stuff I’ve just listed above, for each other, every day.

Before Starting With Dog Grooming…

 

The first time I sat in a barber’s chair, I cried and wanted to run away. Didn’t everyone? Keep that in mind when you start your first dog grooming sessions.

And, with that in mind, here’s some advice you should take before you begin your dog grooming routine, either at home or at a professional groomer’s:

  • Obedience training and puppy socialization are both key to gaining your dog’s trust.
  • Spay or neuter your dog to reduce aggressive tendencies and anxieties.
  • Part of socialization training is to get your dog used to all the “normal” kinds of physical contact, and also used to meeting and being approached by new people. Play with your dog’s paws and toes, ears, and mouth. Lightly scratch and pick underneath his fur. Put a toothbrush in his mouth without doing anything – maybe even flavor it for him. And, let your puppy make new friends as soon as he’s vaccinated.
  • Get your dog used to whatever sink you’ll be bathing him in. Start just by running warm water in it, then introduce him to touching and finally being in the water.
  • Consider obedience classes, to teach your dog to obey more than simply your own family members. Dog grooming will go much easier if your dog knows how to respect strangers.

If you do use a dog groomer, the best way to make sure it goes well is to drop your dog off and leave without a fuss. Don’t reassure your dog, or he’ll assume there’s something to worry about. If you’re doing the grooming yourself, just keep yourself cheerful and sunny before and during the session.

Also, if you get your dog grooming done by a professional, make sure the puppy’s vaccinations are all complete first. Then, tell your groomer about all your dog’s health problems before the appointment.

Choosing a Dog Groomer

My first piece of advice for those of you who’ll hire-out your dog grooming is this: don’t just pick one at random from the phone book, or based on the most convenient location. Getting a recommendation from a veterinarian, a breeder or a friend is a great idea, but if you lack such a contact, then here’s what you do.

Go visit each of the dog groomers you can list in your area, and give each one of them a grade for:

  1. Having a clean grooming area. Use both your nose and your eyeballs for this.
  2. Organization and lighting. Is there enough space and light for groomers to do a good job?
  3. Table-side manner. How are pets treated before and during dog grooming?
  4. The results. How do the dogs look after visiting this dog groomer?
  5. Specific results. Grooming a Poodle is not the same as grooming a Sheltie.
  6. Vaccination safety. If the dog groomer doesn’t require proof of puppy vaccinations, run away!
  7. Other basic info. Find out about long appointments last, waiting times, costs, etc.

What Does Dog Grooming Cost?

 

On average, a professional groomer will charge between $40-100. The higher end of that range is for mobile groomers, groomers in the bigger cities, and dogs with the most dire need of grooming.

Mobile Dog Grooming

There are many advantages and benefits to mobile dog grooming – which is why it costs a bit more.

  • Your dog’s grooming will take place near home, avoiding car sickness and saving time.
  • Owners without the time for two trips to the groomer, love mobile dog grooming services.
  • It’s easier to supervise the dog grooming session when it’s happening right outside your house.
  • Your dog gets 100% personal service during the session when using a mobile groomer.
  • You’ll have no worries about the behavior or health of other dogs.
  • Mobile dog grooming is available anywhere that has a legal parking space.

Do-it-Yourself Dog Grooming

Grooming at home is the preferred choice for dog grooming. Like I said above, wild dogs and wolves groom each other daily. Family dog grooming is a major factor in pack unity. And, naturally, doing dog grooming at home saves you money, and only costs you about ten minutes a day on average.

Here are a few words about each of the dog grooming tasks. Whether you do them yourself, or hire a professional groomer, it’s good stuff to know.

Brushing your Dog’s Coat

 

Almost every breed of dog requires brushing on either a daily, or twice a week basis. (If you’re not sure how often to brush your dog, visit my page about dog breeds and check the “Appearance” section of your specific breed’s page – or ask your veterinarian. ¬†Other information, like grooming cocker spaniels will help too.¬†When in doubt, brush your dog daily or every two days.)

Aside from being important for skin and coat health, your daily brushing habit will help you find any skin infections or parasite infestations right away. You’ll also notice any mild symptoms that can be a sign of malnutrition – so dog brushing is a way to learn whether it’s time to improve your dog’s diet.

Make sure to always remove mats, using a mild oil and multiple combs of varying tooth-widths, or scissors for extreme matting. Repairing or removing matted fur is a very important part of dog grooming, because matted fur leads to pain and skin infections.

In general, the longer your dog’s fur, the more thorough brushing it needs. With a short-furred dogs, you’re mainly looking to stimulate the skin and inspect for burrs, ticks and fleas. Medium-length coats should be groomed thoroughly, and longer-furred friends need “the works.”

For more information about brushing your dog, read the full article: Brushing Your Dog

Bathing Your Dog

 

Most dog breeds should only be bathed once monthly – any more than that, and you risk stripping all the protective oils off his skin. If, for any reason, your dog needs more-frequent baths than this, talk to your vet about special shampoos to protect his skin. Likewise, dogs with skin problems may need special shampoos. Don’t use shampoo made for human hair, when bathing a dog – this, too, will damage their skin.

Basic instructions for bathing your dog:

  • Get all your supplies together – towel(s), shampoo, washcloths, and perhaps treats.
  • Brush your dog thoroughly before you bathe him.
  • Put your dog into the tub or sink before you start running the water.
  • Add the shampoo beginning at his neck – don’t use the soap on his head.
  • Lather and get your fingers deeply involved in your dog’s skin health.
  • Always work from the neck to the tail.
  • Rinse very thoroughly; soap residue can cause infections, or, at the very least, chapped skin.
  • Drain the water from the tub while doing the next step.
  • Use a wet, non-soapy washcloth to clean his face and the inner ears.
  • Put a dry towel over your dog, including his head, and escort him to somewhere he can shake.
  • Remove the towel and get to a safe distance before he shakes off!
  • Dry your dog thoroughly once he’s done his best to dry himself.

In case you didn’t know, there are dog washes where you can give your dog a bath. Doing this dog grooming step on someone else’s property is a dream come true for some homeowners, especially with bigger, more energetic dogs. These places usually provide all the equipment and supplies such as soap, clean towels, etc, and some of them are even 24-hour businesses! It costs between $10 and $20 to bathe your dog at one of these facilities.

For more information about bathing your dog, read the full article: Bathing Your Dog

Dog Ear Cleaning

 

With big ears, come big vulnerabilities. Dog ear problems come in many shapes and degrees of severity, but they all have one thing in common – preventing a problem is better than dealing with one. No matter whether your dog is a house potato or an avid swimmer, you need to tend to his ears.

Aside from your dog bathing schedule, you need to check the ears at least once a week. Wax is a breeding ground for bacteria, and your dog’s attempts to shake the wax loose can lead to permanent ear deformities.

Once you notice a nasty smell in your dog’s ears or see him shaking his head obsessively, it’s already time to call the vet. If you want to avoid that, then dog ear cleaning needs to be a regular habit.

Here are some basic instructions on regular dog ear cleaning:

  1. Trim the ear hair until you can actually get at the wax and other build-up. Make sure to use blunt-nosed scissors and keep the tips pointed away from the dog’s eyes. Don’t trim too deep; your dog needs some of this hair to prevent ear damage.
  2. Inspect the ears for sores, foreign objects, and any kind of build-up. Remove objects with a wet cotton swab.
  3. Use a wet cotton swab to wash the whole inner ear, including the inner flaps. Don’t go into the ear canal; only wash what you can see.
  4. Don’t stop your dog from shaking his head during ear cleanings; he’s helping you when he does.

For more detailed information about dog ear cleaning, read the full article: Dog Ear Cleaning.

Cutting Your Dog’s Nails

So long as you’re careful and competent, there’s no risk in cutting your dog’s nails yourself. There are blood vessels in the nail, but once you know what you’re doing, you’ll be fine carrying out this dog grooming step yourself at home.

Your dog’s nails should be cut very two or three weeks. Without regular trimming, the nails can become a nuisance to your dog at the least, and health risk at the worst.

The only risky part is making sure to avoid cutting the quick of the nail. The quick has both nerves and blood vessels, and if cut, the nail will bleed a lot. If your dog has light-colored nails, then this is easy to avoid, because you can see the quick. However, most dogs have darker nails, so here’s how to avoid injury when cutting your dog’s nails:

Clip off tiny amounts, looking into the cut edge after each clip. If you start to see grey or pink in the middle, you’re seeing the quick, so stop cutting. In the future, now that you’re learning where your dog’s nail quick is, you’ll want to stop a little ways before seeing the quick.

What to do if you cut the quick: First, expect your dog to tell you there’s a problem. Second, expect a lot of blood. Cover the bleeding just like you would with any other injury; cover it and apply some pressure to the tip. Put the whole paw in corn starch or flour, and leave it there for several minutes. This will speed the clotting process. After about ten minutes, the wound will completely clot, and you can wash the paw in warm water. There are also products made specifically for stopping the quick from bleeding, so you might consider buying that before you cut your dog’s nails for the first time.

For more information, read the full article: Cutting Your Dog’s Nails.

Dog Dental Care

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

Eww, dog breath! Once you smell it, there’s already at least some level of an infection. You want to prevent this, because it’s not just disgusting, it’s a sign of a problem. So, here’s some information about dog dental care.

Getting your dog used to dental care is the first step. I recommend using a flavored toothpaste for dogs, and using your fingers for the first brushing. Make sure your dog likes the taste of the toothpaste before you proceed beyond offering him a dab to lick. Once he likes it, use your toothpaste-coated finger to feel around inside your dog’s mouth and around his teeth.

Gradually work your way from this, to a full tooth-brushing over a period of a few days. It’s just like any dog training process – start with something that doesn’t stress him out and builds his trust, and then you can expect good results.

Keep in mind that getting the toothpaste on all the surfaces of his teeth, is more important than the actual scrubbing motion – so work within your dog’s tolerances, in order to avoid your dog resisting dental care in the future.

For more information about brushing your dog’s teeth and other topics, read Dog Dental Care.

Clipping Your Dog’s Fur

The best results in clipping your dog’s fur, will come from high-quality, well-maintained tools. Clipper cleaning and storage should be done right, to avoid rust and organic build-up. Always use the recommended oils to clean your dog clippers, and expect to spend more than $10 on the clippers themselves. Consider getting the clippers professionally sharpened after every four of five cuts.

Before actually clipping your dog’s fur, give him a good, thorough brush and bath. This protects the clippers, and by extension that protects your dog.

As to how short you should clip your dog’s fur, that’s up to you. There are breed standards, there are weather and lifestyle concerns, there are shedding concerns. Clip down to anywhere between half an inch, to as short as you like. It’s good to talk to your veterinarian before you decide, in case he or she has any health-related preference.

Of course, clipping your dog’s fur isn’t a necessity. However, the fur around the genitals and anus, the face and the paws should be trimmed or clipped for health reasons. And, fur that’s too short to mat, won’t mat.

For more detailed information about clipping the fur, read the full article: Clipping Your Dog.

And don’t forget to scroll back up to the top of this page for all the detailed articles on dog grooming!

Learn how to train a dog.

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