Dog grooming at home can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be – with the right mind-set, some patience and a positive attitude you can turn grooming time into bonding time.
Don’t Be Discouraged If Dog Grooming Is Hard for Both You and Your Pup at First
You may have had a bad past experience with trying to groom your beloved canine companion at home. We’re here to reassure you that things do get better as you establish and maintain a regular at-home dog grooming regiment. It’s important to build a strong, trusting relationship with your pup before attempting to groom them yourself but, as with all things, it only takes some time and effort on your part to get them to comply.
The Old Lyme Veterinary Hospital in Old Lyme, Connecticut’s Dr Neil Marrinan says “90 percent of the work will be before, and away from, the actual 10 percent of grooming.” With this, he means that your pup should be able to count on you behaving in a reliable manner. You need to follow an anticipated system, with a predictable number of steps every time – this will help set your dog at ease. Positive reinforcement (treats!) will also help get your dog on board with a new grooming routine.
Keep in mind that animals are sensitive: your dog knows when you’re nervous and they will, in turn, also grow nervous, causing them to look for an escape opportunity or they may even grow aggressive. If, for example, your dog doesn’t like being brushed at first, don’t force them to comply. Instead, try again at a later time. Perseverance pays off.
The Do’s and Don’ts of At-Home Dog Grooming
The Do’s 👍
Groom Your Dog Often
This is especially important if you own a breed with long hair, which is prone to developing painful mats that only get worse the longer they’re ignored. Take time to regularly brush your dog, it’s far better than putting them – and yourself – through the discomfort of trying to deal with severely knotted and tangled hair. Matting that’s ignored for too long may ultimately leave you with no alternative but to clip off the hair entirely.
It’s extremely important for you to remember to brush your dog before bathing them. If you don’t do this, any matting in your dog’s hair will become far worse, as the water causes it to tighten. The shampoo also won’t lather into the hair as easily if you fail to brush your dog beforehand, plus the bathwater will be filthy before you even get the chance to properly clean up your pup.
Invest in a quality brand of dog shampoo, as cheaper brands may contain harsh chemicals, which can lead to or agitate existing skin conditions. Diluting dog shampoo will also help make it easier to rinse out any shampoo left on your dog (which, again, can cause skin irritation). Check difficult to reach places such as your dog’s armpits, around their ears and tail.
In summary: brushing before bathing prevents knots and tangles from getting nastier, as well as helps to remove excess dirt.
Remember to Trim Those Nails
Dog nails do wear down naturally, but occasional trimming is necessary. Keep a close eye on the length of your dog’s nails and clip them before they grow too long, as overgrown nails can become a risk to your pooch’s wellbeing.
Gradually introduce your dog to the sound of a nail clipper or grinder before using it on them. Dogs with white nails should be clipped until you can see the pink part, also known as the quick. Only clip off a tiny piece at a time with black-nailed dogs, stopping as soon as you see a solid black spot at the tip. Clippers should be closed quickly, as doing it slowly or using blunt clippers may lead to the nails splitting and chipping.
Should you opt for a nail grinder, be sure to stop before reaching the quick. If the quick is accidentally clipped, apply some styptic powder to staunch any bleeding. Don’t hesitate to have a vet or professional groomer clip your dog’s nails, if you’re afraid of doing it incorrectly, or have them show you exactly how it’s done for future reference. It’s important to keep your dog’s best interests at heart.
Practice Dog Grooming in a Well-Lit, Safe Spot
It’s important that you’re able to see what you’re doing when grooming your beloved pooch and do it on a surface that will prevent them from slipping and falling. Tethering your dog during grooming isn’t a good idea, as this can lead to accidents. However, dogs who love being brushed can be brushed pretty much anytime, anywhere and often – it’s a wonderful bonding experience and may even serve as a reward for behaving during a not-so-pleasant grooming procedure.
Working in a well-lit environment will also help you to perform a thorough health check while grooming your dog. Look out for anything that seems out of place or different on your dog. Feel their body for irregular bumps and lumps when brushing, washing and drying them.
Make Sure You Have the Right Dog Grooming Tools
Do your research online or consult a trusted professional pet groomer or vet about the appropriate dog grooming kit for your pup. Different breeds have different needs, after all. A brush that works for a short-haired dog, won’t necessarily work for a long-haired dog and vice versa. Professionals will be able to tell you what handy extras you should keep on hand (think styptic powder), as well as what larger items are worth investing in, such as a proper grooming table and grooming arm for holding your pup in place.
Basic dog grooming equipment includes:
- An appropriate comb
- An appropriate brush
- pH-balanced dog shampoo and conditioner
- Enough old towels for drying off
- Dog nail clippers/grinder
- Styptic powder
- Cotton balls or a soft cloth (moisten and use to clean your dog’s ears and around their eyes)
Always invest in high-quality dog grooming equipment, to prevent injury and distress.
Know When You’ve Been Bested
Some pooches just can’t seem to calm down or stand still. If this is true for your dog, consider asking a friend for grooming help or speak to your vet about possible calming supplements. Another option includes taking your dog to a professional pet groomer. Mobile dog grooming services are becoming more widely available, so ask around for recommended specialists in your area.
Grooming shouldn’t be a negative experience for you or your dog, ever.
The Don’ts 👎
Don’t Rush Your Dog Grooming Regiment
Rushing your dog’s grooming regiment won’t do you or your pup any good. The job won’t be done properly, it can lead to your dog experiencing unnecessary stress and may result in life-threatening injuries.
Think about it this way – you wouldn’t appreciate your hairdresser or barber rushing to get the job done while busy with your hair, would you?
Don’t Restrain Your Dog by Gripping at Their Fur
All that you’ll achieve by doing this, is frightening your dog, stressing them out or even injuring them. Your dog will come to associate grooming as a negative experience and won’t give their cooperation in future. Don’t subject your precious pup to undue trauma: enlist trusted and experienced help if grooming your dog by yourself is too much to handle.
Don’t Use Human or Scented Shampoos and Conditioners
Human or scented products may irritate your dog’s sensitive nose and skin. Never apply non-vet approved sprays such as perfume to your dog. These products often contain ingredients that are dangerous to dogs and may lead to respiratory problems.
If you’re looking to brush your dog’s teeth, find an appropriate dog-friendly product, as human toothpaste is often made using xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. This is why it’s so important to do thorough research about which grooming products are appropriate for dogs. Speak to your vet if there’s any hesitation about a product’s safety.
Don’t Bathe Your Dog Too Frequently
Only bathe your dog when it’s necessary, such as when they’ve become smelly or dirty by rolling in something. When washing your dog, you strip away their natural oils, which are needed for temperature regulation. Too frequent bathing is another possible cause of skin irritation.
Never bathe your dog during a cold weather day, as this could lead to a drop in their core body temperature. Ensure the bath happens in a warm, pleasant setting. Towel-dry your dog to get rid of excess moisture and if you use a blow dryer, stay away from your pup’s face.
End Your Dog’s At-Home Spa Day With a Product That Will Keep Them Feeling Fresh and Fantastic for Longer
Now that your beloved furry friend is feeling fresh and clean, help them feel that way for longer by following up their at-home spa day with a dose of Bravecto®. A single, tasty Bravecto® Chew will keep your dog protected from ticks, fleas and mites for 12 weeks, while one treatment of Bravecto® Spot-On for Dogs provides up to 4 months of protection against ticks and 6 months of protection against fleas.
Bravecto® is the fast-acting and long-lasting solution to keeping your dog and home free of nasty external parasites. Help your dog feel good for the long run by treating them with back to back doses of your preferred product. At Bravecto® we care about your pets’ continued wellbeing.