Good grooming is a measure of the care a dog is getting from its owner. How many times have you cringed looking at the matted unkempt fur of someone’s pet canine, who is supposed to be a pet lover, but is apparently not.
A pet is like another child in the family and you are duty bound to give it the best. After all this canine has been a friend of humans for centuries for its loyalty and unconditional love that no other animal displays to this degree.
We usually assume that our responsibility towards our pet is only limited to providing it with a proper diet and exercise. There cannot be a bigger misconception than this. Pet dogs require regular grooming.
You can easily learn how to groom your dog by yourself at home, if not completely, then some part of it by following this dog grooming guide. It will save you both time and money, that you may spend on a pet salon. And your pet dog will have one more reason to love you!
First Must-know: How to Properly Groom Your Dog
Why Is Grooming Important?
How would you feel, if you don’t brush your teeth or wash your face or take a bath for months on end? Miserable, I am sure. The same is the case with your pet dog, but to a lesser degree, because nature has bestowed it with instinct to lick itself clean and get a wash of sorts rolling in the dew-laden grass.
Of course, your pet dog’s self-grooming will never be anywhere near perfect to permit you to let it roll on your carpet or bed. You will have to take the basic grooming in your hands. This way, you will not only tend to your dog, but also save it from infections and diseases that it may spread in the house.
There are five reasons why it is important to groom your dog. Let us see what they are:
#1 Grooming Keeps Skin and Coat Healthy
Even the simplest activity of grooming, like brushing your pet dog’s coat, helps rejuvenate its skin and coat. The brushing action improves blood flow to the skin and keeps the coat healthy. It also strains out any foreign objects, pests or parasites sticking to its coat.
#2 Grooming Keeps Up the Hygiene Level
Keeping your dog clean is part of grooming and this will not only make the dog happy, but also keep the surroundings of your home hygienic and spare you the stinky dog smell!
#3 Grooming Helps in Monitoring Your Pet's Health
Going over your dog’s body while grooming brings to light any rashes, cuts or bruises, or other irregularities that it may suffer from. Timely detection of any such problem will help in getting immediate medical attention and prevent it from getting worse.
#4 Grooming Promotes Your Pet's Physical and Emotional Well-being
You play with your dog, feed it and train it, but grooming is something that brings you physically close to it. The dog feels happy to be given this exclusive treatment and feels relaxed, calm and contented. What’s more, it eagerly looks forward to more such happy moments!
#5 Grooming Enhances Loving Bonds
Grooming helps you build an emotional connect with your dog. Showering your dog with all the attention while grooming leads to a special bonding and lick into shape a loving relationship. This goes a long way in contributing towards your dog’s mental, emotional and physical well-being.
The main advantage of grooming is that it keeps the dog always clean and a clean dog is a happy dog! Let this inspire you to get involved in grooming your dog and get rewarded with its unconditional love in return.
What Kind of Coat Does Your Dog Have?
The knowledge about your dog’s coat will aid you in grooming. Although made of the same stuff as human hair, the dog grows several hairs from a single follicle, whereas in humans, one follicle grows only one strand. This profusion of hair helps the dog in regulating its body temperature.
A dog possesses two types of coats – single and double. While the double coat has a top coat and an undercoat, the single coat has only the top coat. The top coat comprises stiff water-repelling guard hairs, meant to protect the dog’s skin.
The undercoat keeps the dog warm in cold and harsh weather. Dogs shed the undercoat heavily twice a year. These coats may have different types of textures. Knowing this will help you groom your dog better:
- The smooth coat is short, sleek and shiny and requires regular brushing. Example – Basset Hound, Beagle, etc.
- The wiry coat feels rough and coarse and needs to be washed and brushed frequently. Example – Irish Terrier, Brussels Griffon, etc.
- The curly coat has curly hairs that are prone to getting tangled and suffer from dryness, making the coat more difficult to maintain. Example – Poodle, Irish Water Spaniel, etc.
- The medium coat is inch-thick and is not prone to matting or tangles. It can be easily maintained by brushing the dog weekly and giving it a bath monthly. Example – Border Collie, German Shepherd, etc.
- The long coat, which is further subdivided into long parted coats, long coated small dogs and long coated large dogs, display different characteristics and require different handling.
How to Make Your Dog Get Used to Grooming?
It is important to make your dog like grooming, since many dogs don’t take kindly to it. For this, you will need to learn the proper way, so that you and your dog complete the grooming session harmoniously. There are certain tips that you need to follow:
- Start grooming of your dog when it is just a pup; it will be easier to make it get used to grooming. Get the pup accustomed to your inspecting its mouth, ears, legs, tail, toes and nails from the initial stages itself.
- Never rush into the grooming activity, as it may make your dog resist it. As a first step, familiarize your dog with the grooming tools and get it accustomed to the new sensations of grooming. You can also bribe your reluctant dog with its favorite treats.
Never force grooming on your dog.
Ultimately, patience and perseverance will win the day for you.
- Fix the days and time for grooming, so that your dog gets accustomed to this routine. Let the initial grooming sessions last for only a few minutes. These can then be lengthened, as your dog grows accustomed to them.
- Keep the grooming session short and sweet, that is, before your dog gets bored or tired.
How to Give Your Dog A Bath?
Giving a bath to your dog is not simply putting it in a tub and washing it with soap. You will need the right stuff for it. So, ensure that you have all the toiletries required for a bath, including a tub of appropriate size in which you dog can fit comfortably.
You should have a dog shampoo and a conditioner. Never use your own shampoo for your dog, as it may make its skin dry and itchy or cause allergic reaction. An oatmeal shampoo works fine for most. Get a rinsing tool; it can be a large plastic bowl. Have a ready supply of towels.
Giving a bath to your dog involves the following steps:
- Keep everything handy beforehand, since it will be difficult to get them in the midst of a bath.
- Before bath, use a slicker brush to remove any mats or tangles on the dog’s coat, since they may get worse when wet.
- Don’t place your dog into the tub, but let it enter by itself. Use treats, if your dog is reluctant to get into the water.
- Once the dog enters, don’t alarm it by pouring water on it immediately, but let it get used to the water sensation. Start with soaking its head gently, leaving out eyes and ears.
- Apply the shampoo only when the dog’s body is totally wet. Do this with hands or by means of a sponge. Rub to work up a lather and cover the whole body with it, especially the paws, groin and anal regions.
Don’t leave the shampoo for too long, but rinse it off using lukewarm water. Remove every bit of it, especially from the groin area.
- Now take your dog out of the tub and remove excess water on its fur with your hands. Wipe its face with water and use cotton wool buds to clean its ears. Pat the body with a towel slowly to dry the water without applying too much pressure.
- Wrap your dog in water absorbent towel and lead it away from the tub. Continue to dry its coat to remove all traces of water. Use as many towels as required. Blow dry the damp fur with a handheld dryer.
Your dog is bound to feel good and energetic after a bath. You can set the routine to give your dog a weekly bath, unless the dog dirties itself. Consult a vet, if your dog is suffering from a skin condition.
How to Brush Your Dog?
There are innumerable benefits of brushing your dog. It not only removes dirt from the fur, but also keeps it from shedding.
Brushing promotes blood circulation and spreads natural oils on the coat. It also prevents mats and tangles, and exposes any injury or damage to the coat. Last but not the least, it lets you closely bond with your dog.
Follow the steps to properly brush your dog:
- Select a suitable brush and make your dog get acquainted with it.
- Make the dog comfortable and start brushing its coat slowly. Start from the front end and move backwards, doing one side at a time.
- First, brush in the opposite direction of the hair growth to remove any tangles. Then, brush in the direction of the hair growth, starting from the back towards the front. This process will help remove the dirt from the coat.
There is no set routine for brushing your dog, do it as often as you want to and whenever it is required, but do adhere to regular timings. A rough guide is to brush…
- shedding dogs, who shed a lot, every day.
- long coated dogs, once a day or every alternate day.
- thick coated dogs, two to three times a week.
- short haired dogs, once a week.
How to Remove Mats and Tangles?
Normal mats and tangles get removed during routine brushing, but the unyielding ones need special attention and proper removal technique. Since pulling at the fur is painful for the dog, always be gentle.
Learn the correct way of removing mats and tangles:
- Slicker brush works the best for your dog’s coat in removing mats and tangles. Choose a self-cleaning slicker brush that is not too hard or too soft.
- Make your dog sit or lie comfortably and allow it to get acquainted with the brush.
- Get started with the head area first, under the ears, and continue going down the body taking a small area at a time.
- When removing the mat from the fur, hold the fur at the base and then remove the mat. This will avoid damage to the skin and brush burns.
- For obstinate mats, apply a little cornstarch to the matted area to soften it up and use the slicker brush to remove it. Apply the brush on the ends and then work your way inwards.
- The unyielding mats and tangles may need cutting. Do so with a pair of scissors and cut with a sawing motion in the direction of hair growth. This will make it look natural.
This exercise of removing mats and tangles should be done before bathing your dog, since water may worsen their condition. Be patient and devote adequate time to remove them.
How to Clip Your Dog Nails?
Before you commence with nail clipping, you must familiarize yourself with the ‘quick’. A dog’s nail comprises of an outer hard nail and an inner sensitive nail called the quick.
It is the outer hard nail that needs to be cut and the quick left untouched. If the quick is cut, it may result in bleeding.
Dogs hate nail clipping, but it is essential to keep them trimmed. Unclipped nails may grow long, break and cause pain and infection. Long nails may also affect the dog’s gait.
As already mentioned, dogs have special clippers for their nails, so never use your nail clippers. When you are clipping your dog’s nails, keep styptic powder handy for any accidental cuts to the quick.
Following are the steps for the proper clipping of nails:
- Make your dog comfortable and slowly take one paw at a time in your hand. Now place the nail clipper around your dog’s nail and cut at an angle of 45 degrees. Be mindful of the quick, when clipping.
- Splintering of nail is normal, as some nails become brittle. In such an event, use a simple nail file and file downwards along the curvature of the nail.
- If the quick gets damaged during this activity and starts to bleed, put some styptic powder to the nail and apply pressure, till the bleeding stops. The powder may sting, so keep the dog under control.
- Clip your dog’s dew claws last, but don’t ignore clipping them, since it may result in an ingrown toe nail.
You can also use a Dremel tool for this purpose, but make sure that the noise of this electrical tool does not scare the dog.
How to Take Care of Your Dog's Eyes?
Although dogs have durable eyes, they must be tended to, especially of breeds with protruding eyes, such as Chihuahua, Boxer and Boston Terrier, etc. Some tips for the proper care of dog’s eyes are:
- Overgrown hair may touch the eyes infecting it. Clip these with a blunt-nosed scissors and carefully trim the hair around the eyes.
- Mucus or gunk in the corner of your dog’s eyes invites infection. Clean the eyes with a good dog eyewash and a clean damp wash cloth.
- Unclipped long nails may damage the eyes while scratching or playing. So, not allowing nails to grow long by clipping them regularly is important.
- Prevent shampoo from getting into the dog’s eyes during bathing. Cover the eyes when shampooing the head.
- Clean the tear stains from your dog’s eyes with a soft and damp cloth. If not cleaned for long, they may discolor the dog’s fur. For this, you can make a special tear stain remover adding nine parts of water to one part of hydrogen peroxide.
Taking care of your dog’s eyes will also make you aware of any problems it is having with its eyes. In such an event, show your dog to a vet.
How to Take Care of Your Dog's Ears?
Your dog’s ears are sensitive and it may not allow you clean them, since it feels unnatural. For effective cleaning of your dog’s ears, you must have some things ready, such as medicated dog ear powder, hemostat, tweezers, sterile cotton balls and a cleaning solution.
Follow the tips below for proper cleaning of your dog’s ears:
- As a first step, inspect your dog’s ears and look for any foreign object lodged there. Make use of the tweezers to gently remove it. In case of any swelling, redness or any visible problem consult your vet.
- Look inside the inner ear. If hairs are blocking the view, slowly remove them with a dampened finger. Clear the hair to about half-an-inch from inside the ear. For removing the hair, put some medicated ear powder inside the ear and let it sit for a while.
Now, slowly pluck the hair by means of a hemostat and tweezers, pulling them in the direction it is growing.
- To remove wax, use ear powder that will bind the excess wax and makes it easier to remove. Use cotton balls and dog ear cleaning solution to remove excess wax. Never insert any object inside the ear canals for cleaning.
Cleaning dog’s ears is a crucial operation and should only be done from time to time. Care should be taken not to let water enter dog’s ears during baths.
How to Care For Your Dog's Teeth?
Like humans, dogs too need their teeth brushed. This will prevent a host of problems, such as periodontal disease, gingivitis, halitosis, swollen gums and others.
Fix a daily routine for brushing your dog’s teeth and use a dog toothpaste and never your own toothpaste, as it may contain substances that may prove fatal for your dog. Here are some steps for proper cleaning of dog’s teeth:
- Choose a dog toothbrush that best suits your dog. There are two types – long necks similar to your own and the soft finger brushes.
- To make the dog get used to your touching its mouth, make it a point to touch it daily and brush its teeth with your fingers for a few days. Reward such sessions with treats.
- Once your dog is comfortable with this, apply a small amount of dog toothpaste to its toothbrush. Reassure your dog by petting it. Then, slowly lift its lip and insert the toothbrush, and gently start brushing the teeth in a circular motion. Give equal attention to teeth and the line between the gums and the teeth.
- Take the sides of the mouth, one at a time, and clean the teeth of both the upper and lower jaws.
As an alternative to regular brushing, you can also give dental dog chews to your dog for maintaining its dental hygiene.
Tools to Groom Your Dog: What Are They and How Should Use Them
What Are The Tools For Dog Grooming?
The grooming activities, comprising brushing your dog’s coat or giving it a shampoo bath, are just miniscule parts of grooming, it is also essential to brush its teeth, cut nails, remove mats from fur and other such activities. This is only possible, if you have the right tools for it.
These tools not only facilitate grooming, but also make it easy and fun. Different grooming activities require different tools for a meaningful grooming.
Although there are all kinds of dog grooming tools available in the market, you certainly don’t need them all. Let this dog grooming guide help you decide which dog grooming tools are really required for grooming:
- Grooming table: An appropriately sized grooming table is the first thing you should go in for. It comes in two sizes and is equipped with a rubber matting to keep the dog safe. You can also go in for a table with hydraulic system to raise and lower it.
- Bristle brush: This brush is mainly used to fluff your dog’s hair or give it finishing touches. It is suitable for all breeds of dogs and comes in soft, medium and stiff varieties.
- Rubber brush: This brush is meant for dogs with short or smooth coats, since it is gentle on dog’s skin.
- Pin brush: This brush is meant for longer coats and comes in different sizes. Choose one most suitable for your dog. This brush is not meant for smooth coats, as it can damage them.
- Slicker brush: Ideal for removing mats, tangles and dirt, this brush can be used on both short and long coats.
- De-shedding tool: This tool manages shedding and helps reduce the pet hair in your home and on your dog’s coat.
- Comb: Comb helps in loosening the tangles and mats on the dog’s fur, which are then removed by the slicker brush. A regular-sized comb with steel teeth is the best choice. A de-shedding comb is also available for dogs with longer coats.
- Hand held dryer: Much like the hair dryer you use, this dryer is designed exclusively for the dogs. Buy one with heat control and use it on the dog only on low to warm setting. High temperature may damage the dog’s skin.
- Cage dryer: This dryer comes with an attachment and can be affixed to the dog’s cage. It is quick and efficient in drying and does not agitate the dog.
- Floor dryer: This dryer comes with a flexible and long nozzle for drying the dog’s undercoat. Desist using it, if your dog does not feel comfortable being dried this way.
- Guillotine dog nail clipper: Designed for small to medium sized dogs, it is an ideal tool for those new to nail clipping. Once you insert the dog’s nail in the metal hoop, it is efficiently clipped. It is not for larger dogs.
- Curved type scissor clippers: Its curved tip is perfect for clipping nails of medium to large-sized dogs. This implement is not meant for small breeds.
- Straight type scissor clippers: This scissor has straight tip and is most suitable for both small and large dogs.
- Dremel tool: This electric device grinds the dog’s nails to their proper length and so does away with the need for cutting them.
- Styptic powder: Clipping nails may accidentally damage the quick, resulting in bleeding. This powder stops the bleeding and heals quickly.
- Electric clipper: This plug-in and use electrical device is ideal for clipping your dog’s hair. Assess the thickness of the dog’s coat before using it, since thick coat would need more power. The device is rechargeable.
- Electric clipper snap on comb: If you really want precise and uniform cuts, use this electrical device along with the electric clipper. The snap on comb fits snugly into the clipper making the process fast, safe and efficient. It comes in six different sizes, choose the one that is appropriate for your dog.
- Electric clipper spray lube: Electric clippers can inflict skin burns on the dog’s skin. This lube not only lubricates the coat, but also acts as a coolant for the blades of the clipper that get heated over time.
- Scissors: Different sizes of scissors are available for different sized dogs.
- Curved shears: It is generally used by professional dog groomers to prepare dogs for dog shows. You can use this implement for trimming around your dog’s feet.
- Thinning shears: These are convenient for trimming hair on the sensitive parts of your dog’s body, such as eyes and ears.
- Silk handkerchief: This piece of silk is used to polish the coat of short haired breeds.
Most of the tools in use for grooming a dog have been listed here, but that does not mean that you need to purchase all of them. Get the basic ones first, such as slicker and de-shedding brushes, and the nail clippers. Learn about the specific uses of these tools from the internet.
About Dog Groomers: What You Should Care About!
How to Find A Good Dog Groomer?
As you delve deeper into dog grooming, it will become evident to you that certain aspects of dog grooming are beyond your capability. Complete dog grooming requires the help of professional groomers. But, how to find good ones with gentle hands is always the question.
The best source of homing in on good groomers are other pet owners. They will be more than thrilled to share this information. They will not only tell you who the good ones are, but also those to stay away from! Once you get a reference, search online for any complaints lodged against him or her.
Good groomers will invariably have a long waiting line! Another good source for finding a good dog groomer is your vet, who will certainly be in touch with dog groomers. However, here too, get the reference from your vet, but assess the groomer yourself.
Once you have shortlisted your groomer, ensure the following:
#1 Assess The Professionalism of The Dog Groomer
Watch the dog groomer work with dogs on the grooming table. There are certain things to look for:
- Is the dog groomer handling the dog gently and patiently?
- Is the groomer allowing an agitated dog to settle down, before resuming grooming?
- Is he or she being considerate to older dogs by making them sit or lie down to avoid exhaustion?
- Are puppies being encouraged to submit to grooming with treats and short breaks?
- Is the dog groomer making grooming fun for the dog or simply going through the motions?
A clear indicator of a good groomer is how the dog reacts to him or her, touching and manipulating its body. If the dog submits willingly, it is in safe hands.
#2 Keep An Eye on The Dog Groomer
Once you bring your dog to the professional groomer, stay around and watch it being groomed. If the groomer has objections to your hovering around or discreetly watching your dog, he or she is certainly not for you. You must keep an eye on your dog the entire grooming session.
#3 Look For The Telltale Signs of Your Dog
Your job begins once the grooming is over. There are some glaring telltale signs that show how your dog was handled during grooming. Answer the following questions: Does your dog appear scared, stressed or shy after grooming? Does it have nicks, cuts, razor burns, brush burns on its body? If the answer to any of these questions is a yes, this groomer is not worth trusting your dog with.
The professional groomer will find it easy to groom, if you make your dog familiar with the grooming tools beforehand, such as nail clippers, brushes, toothbrushes and the like.
If you really want to express your love for your pet dog, groom it well. And what better way to start than to follow the invaluable tips and tricks revealed in this dog grooming guide.