How To Groom Your Dog (Comprehensive Guide)
Introduction to grooming
Grooming our dogs is something we tend to overlook because we're having too much fun with them or we're just bad at it.
But grooming should be taken seriously because if not, your dog will be the one suffering. Which is why I created this comprehensive guide to teach you how to groom your dog.
I'm not asking you to groom your dog every day but once or twice a month is fine depending on his condition.
I mean, you don't want your dog to look dirty and smelly, do you?
Besides a clean dog is a happy dog!
Here's what you'll learn from this guide.
- Why you should groom your dog
- The benefits of grooming
- Basic grooming tools/supplies
- How to prepare your dog for a bath
- How to clean your dog's eyes and ears
- How to brush his teeth and clip his nails
- How to bathe him
- How to clip his coat
Why you should groom
Like you and me, our dogs needs to stay clean too.
Grooming your dog makes them look cleaner and good looking! But it is not always about appearance, grooming also helps in keeping your dog healthy.
If you do not want the following things to happen to your dog, then you should groom your dog!
Does your dog have long hairs? They can cause some skin issues and discomfort to your dog. Some long hairs might even be covering his eyes, restricting his vision.
If your dog's long hair aren't brushed and washed regularly, his hair will start getting all tangled and matted and it will burden your dog with extra unnecessary weight.
If your dog hair is matted. It can hurt your dog and causes skin infection.
It can even restrict your dog's blood flow, as the hair pulls on your dog's skin, making even a simple touch painful. Worst case scenario, it can lead to deformity.
If your dog has overgrown long nails, you should cut them off. They can cause pain to your dog and with long nails growing into their paw pads, it can cause infection and may also cause your dog toes to bend, making him hard to walk.
Grass seeds, you might be thinking "what is a seed going to do to my dog?"
Well, It can actually cause abscess and severe infection. It's hard to detect grass seeds on your dog unless you thoroughly groom and check your dog.
Dental disease in dogs is also common because our dogs lick and eat nearly everything from the ground. It can cause teeth loss, bad breath, reduce in appetite and may harm your dog's heart, liver, and kidney.
Benefits of Grooming
Besides keeping your dog good looking. There are many other advantages of grooming your dog.
If your dog sheds a lot, grooming can help reduce their shedding although it won't stop the shedding completely. But by having a regular grooming routine, it should lessen the shedding.
Helpful Resource: Minimize Dog Shedding
Less dog hair around your house means less cleaning up for you!
By grooming regularly, you will be also able to find out sores, bald spot, lumps or bumps which you wouldn't have notice by just looking at your dog. Doing this will help you know if something is wrong with your dog.
Because it helps reduce the risk of skin, eye, ear, nail, teeth and other infection. It will help lower your dog's medical bills as regular grooming will help prevent infection and diseases before they become serious. So that you don't have to visit the Vet often.
And you will have a happy dog who is free from stress and pain while looking fabulous and smelling great all the time.
Basic dog grooming tools
Before we start grooming our dog, we will need several tools. You do not want to use random tools, or you might end up hurting yourself or even your dog.
I've listed out 14 of them, and some of them are optional. If you think I'm missing out something, you can comment down below, and I'll add them.
There are many different types of brushes for dogs, but I'll list out 4 of the most common ones.
Bristle brushes - These type of brush can be used for almost every dog breeds. For dogs with longer coat such as a Border Collie, a longer and widely spaced bristle will help remove dirt and make your dog coat shine.
Slicker brushes - This kind of brushes have thin wire pins that are bent slightly for de-matting the undercoat and remove dead hairs. Not great for long haired dogs as the wire pins will get stuck and pull the hair, but it's ideal for dogs with not too long thick undercoat.
Rubber brush - I don't use this as much, but it helps massage your dogs and is also good for removing dead hair!
Remember to brush your dog before the bath!
There are several types of nail cutter. The 2 most commons ones are guillotine and scissors. I personally prefer the guillotine, as its very easy to use. But sometimes they aren't strong enough to cut through the thicker nails.
The nail grinder isn't really a clipper or anything and it's a bit different. Instead of cutting the nail, it chips away the nails bit by bit. Its safer for the dog as you won't cut the blood vessel (kwik) right away.
Helpful Resource: 11 Best Dog Nail Grinder 2017
Electric clippers and Scissors
There are 2 types of clippers, they are either corded or cordless. You will be using the clippers for your dog's coat/hair. But if your dog has short hairs, it is not necessary. I personally use and recommend the Andis UltraEdge Model AGC (22685).
To give your dog a nice clean cut, you will need a dog grooming scissors. Don't use your average office scissors if you don't want your dog to get hurt.
Get yourself a pair of scissor which is comfortable for you to hold and sharp enough to cut through your dog's hair.
Shampoo and conditioners
There's nothing much to say here because we all know what a shampoo is and when to use it. But to answer a popular question on the Internet.
NO, you cannot use your shampoo or conditioners on your dog. It is not safe, and there is a reason they created a shampoo specifically designed for dogs.
Check out my top 5 puppy shampoo list here.
We are all tired cleaning up after our dog's hair all over the house. Although you can't stop the shedding completely, you can use some de-shedding tool such as Furminator which will help you shed all your dog's hair in one place so you can clean quickly.
Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Dematting Comb/tool (Optional)
Dander Remover sprays (Optional)
Grooming Wipes (Optional)
Hair removal mitts and rollers (Optional)
Grooming table (Optional)
Step by step grooming guide
In this step by step dog grooming guide, I'll be teaching you what I usually do when I groom my dogs. It's a thorough grooming session, which involves cutting his nails, bathing him, brushing him, etc.
Preparing him for a bath
Before we start, have your grooming tools ready. Make sure you have all the tools you need by your side so that you don't have to go looking for it later.
Begin by combing or brushing your dog's hair/coat, this will help de-mat your dog's hair. Simply use a comb or a brush to thoroughly comb your dog because later on, the matted hair will hinder you when bathing your dog.
If you're using a comb and it didn't help with the matted, tangled hair, use a brush to de-mat the hair.
If the problem persists, you can either use a de-matting comb which is designed to easily remove matted tangled hair from your dog, or you can use a scissor or a clipper to cut the matted hair off.
Be careful when using scissors to avoid injuring your dog.
Helpful Resource: Grooming Short Haired Dogs
Start combing from the head and move to the body. Be gentle under the belly area because it's a sensitive area.
Be careful not to brush too hard or in the same area for an extended period. You might give your dog a brush burn.
Don't forget to brush his tail and feet!
Remember to give your dog breaks when necessary, you don't want to him to just sit there for the whole time and make it boring and annoying for him. You need to make it fun so that he finds it enjoyable and will obey you.
Cleaning his eyes
Besides brushing and cleaning your dog's coat. You should also be looking at other parts of his body. If your dog eyes water a lot, he will need more care in there than other areas.
To clean his eyes, damp a cloth or cotton in room-temperature water and gently wipe around the eye to remove the dirt. Never touch the eyes itself and don't use any shampoo near his eyes.
Video on cleaning your dog's eyes
Cleaning his ears
Before cleaning your dog's ear, check if his ears have any smell to it. There shouldn't be any smell.You might find some wax, but that's completely normal so don't worry.
To clean your dog's ear, get yourself a dog ear cleaner wipes, and gently wipe the dirt away from your dog's inner ear. Do not clean too deeply inside his ear.
After you're done with the cleaning, dry his ear with a dry cotton.
Video on cleaning your dog's ears
Brushing his teeth
Again before brushing your dog's teeth, use a toothpaste and toothbrush made for dogs. The toothpaste we use is for yourself, and are harmful to our dogs.
- Begin by pasting a small amount of the toothpaste onto your finger and spread it across his teeth. Praise and reward your dog for his behavior.
- Afterward, slowly start brushing your dog's teeth to get him to used it.
- Now all you have to do is clean his mouth with water and don't forget to reward him.
Video on brushing your dog's teeth
Don't rush the process and be patient!
If your dog has tartar or plaque built up inside his mouth, I suggest you take your dog to a vet.
If you think you will get bitten, do not try to attempt it and leave it to a professional.
Clipping his nails
Your dog's nails are imperative, and they should be regularly cut and kept clean to avoid any infection. Take a look at the diagram below to get a better understanding.
- Slowly start trimming off a small portion of the nail with your dog nail clipper.
- Avoid cutting the pink (kwik) part of your dog's nail because that's his blood vessel.
- If your dog's nail is white, you will be able to see the pink area, but if his nail is black, you should use a nail grinder as its much safer.
- If you mistakenly cut his pink area, get a styptic gel or powder to stop the bleeding.
- You could also use a grinder if you can't see your dog's kwik and its a lot safer.
Here's a 2 minute video that shows you how to cut your dog's nail. Video contains blood, viewer discretion advised.
Bathing your dog
After brushing your dog, cleaning his eyes, ears, teeth, and nails. We can finally bath him!
I have a bathtub so I bath him in there, while others wash their dog at their backyard. But if you want to follow me, do get a nonslip surface to place inside your tub. Otherwise, your dog will be slipping around.
First, fill up the tub with lukewarm water. Not too cold, not too hot. Slowly put your dog inside the tub and get him comfortable with the water. We don't want to stress him. Use his favorite toy or treats to encourage him.
If your dog moves around a lot when you try to bathe him, get a dog bath leash. It works like a normal leash but on the other end is a suction cup for you to stick it on the wall.
Second, begin by soaking your dog's body. Afterward, start applying dog shampoo starting from his neck. Lather the shampoo around his body and don't forget his legs.
Avoid getting the water or shampoo into your dog's ear or eye as it can cause an infection.
Once you shampoo your dog, run a rake through his hair/coat. This will help in distributing the shampoo thoroughly.
Because the head is a sensitive area for your dog, we will have to clean it separately from the body. I use a wet towel for to clean my dog's head.
Third, Now we will be rinsing your dog from all that shampoo. Simply pour water onto your dog until he is shampooless!
Finally, we will be drying your dog. I like to towel dry my dog while he's still inside the tub so that it won't be a mess. You can also blow dry him if your dog's comfortable with the blow dryer. Or you can just let him air dry!
Take a look at the video down below to get an idea of how to bath your dog.
Clipping dog fur
This is the final section of grooming your dog! Give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far.
Before you start, decide if your dog needs a shave. If your dog has short hair, they probably don't need any. But if you have a long-haired breed such as Shih Tzu, you might need to clip their hair regularly.
Wait for your dog's hair to dry. While waiting, get your dog clippers ready, remember to read the manuals!
Check if your clipper blades are sharp and lubricated for easier shaving. If not, they can yank out the hair and your dog will not like it.
While you're shaving your dog, you don't want him moving around too much because you or your dog might get hurt. So use a leash to hold him in place. You can also place your other hand under your dog's belly to help him stay in place.
To start shaving your dog's hair, place the clipper blade on to your dog's body safely, but don't press onto the skin. Slowly start clipping your dog from the neck and move to the shoulders, sides, ears, legs, and tails.
Run the clipper with the direction of hair growth to make it look smooth.
Be extra careful when clipping around the sensitive area such ah face, legs, tail, anus, etc.
Check your clippers now and then to make sure it doesn't get too hot, or it might burn your dog's skin. If they do get hot, stop the session and let them cool down.
Once you're done with the clipping, clean up the mess while you can or else its going to be a nightmare. Don't forget to reward and praise your dog at the end of it!
Dog Grooming Video: Shaving your dog's body
Dog Grooming Video: Shaving your dog's head
Tips and Tricks
Here are some of my tips to summarize everything here.
- For Short haired dogs, you can use a rubber glove or curry brushes. If your dog has a thick coat, you can also use the slicker brush to remove some of the tangles.
- For long haired dogs, you can use an undercoat rake, a pin brush or a slicker brush to remove the tangles.
- Avoid trimming hair near his eyes as you might hurt him.
- Praise or reward your dog's calm behavior when brushing to encourage him for the behavior.
- Your dog's eye should look clear and shouldn't have any unusual or excessive discharge, if not go to a vet.
- If your dog's ear is red, dark, irritated, has discharge or smells funny, you should go to a vet.
- When brushing your dog's teeth, make it fun and enjoyable for him.
- If you can hear your dog's nail hitting the ground while walking, his nail is too long.
- Remember to have fun while doing everything so that your dog doesn't get bored and lose interest.
- Most important of all, don't rush and be patient!
Are you guys having any other troubles in grooming your dogs or have questions for me?
Ask me anything down below in the comments!