Have you just had a new puppy or a rescue dog that you decided to add to your family? Every pet owner should know several basic dog grooming tips so they can keep their pets in excellent health.
New and some old pet owners might be a bit overwhelmed because they don’t know what to do or where to start. In this article, we’ll talk about some basic dog grooming tips in addition to special techniques that will help you keep your dog happy and well-groomed.
Why Should You Groom Your Dog?
Paying a professional groomer is totally worth it but you can still save a few bucks between grooming appointments by doing some work on your own. All dogs need grooming, regardless of their breed but you might follow a different routine or do it more frequently according to the needs of your pet.
Grooming isn’t just about keeping your dog clean. It’s essential to keep it healthy because you can detect early symptoms of medical conditions that might affect your dog’s life. Here are some reasons why grooming your dog is of utmost importance.
- When you first get your puppy or rescue dog, grooming will be an activity that you can do to show them that you care about them. It will help strengthen the bond between both of you, although things might be a little bit overwhelming for a rescue dog that has witnessed some abuse in the past.
- Grooming for dogs is a matter of practice. The earlier and more often you do it, the easier it will become. If you have a puppy, you should start grooming it as soon as possible because the puppy won’t be able to handle some grooming actions later like ear cleaning if they’re not used to doing it at a younger age.
- Brushing the dog’s coat will help bring out the natural oils that nourish the coat and make the hair stronger and shinier. Long-haired dogs need more frequent brushing than short-haired dogs, but all breeds need regular brushing using a suitable brush that removes dead skin, dead hair, dandruff, and dirt. As you brush your dog, you’ll be able to detect any irregularities with the coat that might be a symptom of a serious medical problem.
- It’s very important to have your dog’s nails clipped to a comfortable length. Longer nails can be too painful for dogs and they might accidentally scratch you while you’re both playing together.
- While bathing your dog, you will be able to detect any problems with the skin like lesions or ulcers that might be making your dog uncomfortable. You can also detect ticks and fleas that cause a lot of pain.
Every now then, you should book a professional grooming session for your dog where it is bathed, brushed, and dried while having its nails clipped and its hair trimmed. Professional groomers have adequate tools to groom your puppy or dog without causing any discomfort.
They will do some stuff that you might not be confident enough to do for the very first time like cleaning anal glands and removing any buildup. Moreover, they know how to handle traumatized dogs that won’t sit quietly.
Nevertheless, once you have established a grooming routine with a professional groomer, you should start doing some of these jobs on your own. They’re not difficult to master and being gentle will help you understand what works for your pet, so you can both enjoy your special time together.
Basic Grooming Routine
Before you start basic grooming, you need to make sure that nothing will traumatize your dog. The goal is to make your dog love or at least not hate the grooming session because things can be too challenging if you can’t get your dog to relax. Here’s a suggestion for a basic grooming routine.
- Nail clipping should be done once a month.
- Brushing should be done once a week. It could be done more often if your dog has long hair.
- Teeth brushing should be done twice a week.
- Bathing should be done every other week or more often if your dog has suddenly got into the mud or dirt.
- Ears, eyes, and paw cleaning should be done every other week.
- Hair trimming should be done every other month.
Dog Grooming Tips to Make the Process Easier
For most puppies and rescue dogs, they’re likely to be more resistant to the grooming process and can make your job slightly more difficult. However, there are a few tricks that you can follow to make your grooming process more successful.
- Introduce the grooming tools slowly. Your dog should understand that they’ve got nothing to fear so make sure that you’re holding the tools safely and allow them to sniff them and touch them. This way, your dog will learn that they’re safe.
- Use encouraging praising words and speak gently to your dog. Your reassuring voice and gentle touch will help the dog feel at ease.
- Break the grooming process over several days. For example, you can do the nail clipping and brushing on a day and save the hair trimming for another. This will help your dog feel more relaxed and less overwhelmed.
- Treat your puppy just like you would treat a baby. If they feel intimidated by a specific tool like a brush, mimic its movement without actually using it until they’re comfortable enough.
- If your puppy or dog hates a specific part of the grooming process, try to save a special treat to keep them distracted. Your dog will be motivated to put up with the grooming session because they know that there’s a special treat that they will get later.
- You can turn on the clipper and hold it without using it so your dog doesn’t feel that scared. Next, you can hold the clipper and run the side of it until your dog gets comfortable with the vibrations. Do the same with the hairdryer because the sound is probably going to scare your puppy off.
- Some puppies and dogs simply won’t sit down. Just brush the hair for a few seconds and offer a treat then brush it again. Your dog will learn to associate being calm with getting a reward. Increase the length of time between brushings so your dog will sit quietly more often.
- If your puppy is in the active or playing mode, then it’s probably better that you postpone the grooming session. You shouldn’t try to groom your dog unless it’s settled.
- Pay attention to the reactions of your dog. If things seem overwhelming, if it gets extremely restless or it tries to bite the tools then it’s time to stop. You want to avoid grooming your puppy when they’re not feeling well because they will eventually associate grooming with negative feelings.
- When you’re dealing with puppies and dogs it’s all about the details. If you’re nervous, your pet will sense your stress and respond by being stressed as well. You should be calm and patient and act positively even if your dog doesn’t respond well to the grooming process. Avoid shouting at your dog as this will make it more stressed.
The Steps of Basic Dog Grooming
Now that you’ve got your puppy or dog ready for the grooming process, you should start taking it one step at a time. Remember that breaking the process over a few days will help your dog feel more relaxed.
Even dogs with short hair need regular brushing because it removes dead hair that causes tangles and spreads the natural oils to keep the coat healthy. Picking the right brush for your dog’s breed will help you finish this process successfully.
Very short-haired dogs like Great Danes need a bristle brush that scratches the skin and removes the dead hair effectively. Short-haired dogs that shed regularly like Pugs need a shedding tool. This will prevent the formation of tangles that irritate the dog and might later push you to shave off the coat.
Some dogs have thick hair that sheds occasionally like German Shepherds and Huskies. You’ll need to use a shedding tool with an undercoat rake to groom your dog perfectly.
Border Collies and Golden Retrievers have medium hair, so you’ll need an undercoat rake and a slicker brush. Dogs that have straight and rather long hair like Maltese and Yorkies need a dematting tool that removes tangles. You’ll also need a pin brush to help brush the long hair regularly.
Dogs that have curly hair like Poodles need a dematting tool to remove tangles and mats. You’ll also need a metal comb to make sure that the hair is perfectly groomed.
Bathing your Dog
Some people never wash their dogs and others wash them too often. Ideally, you should bathe your dog every 2 weeks to remove the dirt, grime, and oil that get trapped in the dog’s coat.
Use a special hypoallergenic dog shampoo or oatmeal shampoo that doesn’t dry the coat of your dog. Most dogs can do well when they’re bathed every month because bathing the dog too often will make the skin dry which affects the way the coat looks and feels. You should try to use a gentle conditioner to keep the coat soft and shiny.
Even baby shampoo will be too harsh for your dog because humans’ skin has a different PH level. This is how to get the bath ready for your puppy or dog.
- Detangle the hair of your dog before bath time. Water can tangle the hair furthermore so you won’t be able to brush the hair properly later on. If there are stubborn tangles and mats, shave them off before wetting the dog’s coat.
- Use a bath mat to keep the dog stable. Your dog won’t probably like the feeling of the slippery bathtub. A bath mat or towel will give your dog more traction so it can keep calm.
- Get all your tools ready to minimize the time needed to complete the process.
- Use cotton balls to protect the ears of your dog. Water can cause an infection.
- Use lukewarm water because dogs don’t like hot water.
- Invest in a sprayer that will allow you to wash and rinse your dog successfully.
- Use water to wet the dog’s back and move towards the face. Add some shampoo until it forms a lather. Even dog shampoos can still harm your dog’s eyes so you should be extra careful.
- If the shampoo gets into the eyes of your dog, make sure to wash it off using a saline solution.
- Rinse your dog multiple times very well. Any residue shampoo can cause major irritation that makes your dog uncomfortable. It will also cause dandruff that affects the beauty and health of the coat.
- Avoid using the hairdryer on the hot setting if it’s your own. Dogs overheat easily so its worth investing in a dog hair dryer which you can use on the cool setting. Using the high speed air flow might be too noisy for your dog so you might need to build up their tolerance.
Dog Grooming Tips for Trimming Hair
Trimming your dog’s hair can be a little challenging, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. This is ideally done after you’ve given your dog a bath and has brushed the hair thoroughly. Most dogs will need to have their hair trimmed every 2 months.
If you have an enthusiastic dog, you can make use of a grooming table that will help you secure the puppy or dog in place. Using scissors isn’t recommended for beginners because they can be too dangerous to use around dogs unless you’re trimming around the face. Hair clippers are usually better. Here’s how to cut your dog’s hair.
- Never cut your dog’s hair when it’s still wet. Always start with clean dry hair.
- Use the tips to cut the hair on the tail, face, and feet.
- A clipper will help you get rid of matted hair.
- Hold the ear when you’re trimming the hair to make sure that you’re not going too far.
- If you’re using a blade, keep it flat to the skin and use gentle movements to shave the hair off. Feel the blade every now and then to prevent burns.
Nails trimming is an important grooming practice that you should do regularly. Long nails can make your dog extremely uncomfortable as they cause arthritis and walking problems. Moreover, the nail can also curve towards the paw to poke your dog or puppy as he walks around.
You should also make sure that your dog’s nails are perfectly trimmed so they don’t accidentally scratch you or hurt someone in the family while they’re playing with them. Most dogs need to have their nails trimmed once a month, but some dogs will need to have their nails trimmed more often.
Older dogs are likely to need less trimming because they usually take long walks on the asphalt or sidewalks that wear their nails significantly. Younger puppies that don’t leave the house that often will need more trimming.
Ignoring nail trimming will cause a lot of problems. There’s a vein in the nail that grows too long if the nails don’t get groomed frequently. When it’s cut this vein will bleed and hurt the dog causing a lot of discomfort and pain. This is called the quick.
To help fix this problem, you should use a grinder to trim only a little part of the nail every week. This will help the vein to shrink back. You should get your dog to sit in a comfortable position where you can flip the paw back so you can see the underside of the nails. Using a dog nail clipper also works.
Nail grinders are extremely comfortable because they will allow you to trim the nails safely without getting close to the quick. They will help you get your dog’s or puppy’s nails short and smooth in no time. However, they can be quite noisy so you should introduce the grinder slowly to avoid startling your dog.
Some dogs have white nails that you can easily see. Just flip the paw and trim where it stops. Dogs with black nails are a bit more challenging. You should trim the nail a little and stop when you see a black dot surrounded by white. If you’ve accidentally gone too far, you should use styptic powder to stop the bleeding.
Lots of dogs suffer from periodontal disease or other dental problems because their teeth are usually ignored during occasional grooming. Giving your dog’s teeth proper cleaning at least twice a week is essential.
Gum and teeth problems shouldn’t be taken lightly because they can lead to teeth falling and dangerous abscesses. The bacteria can travel through the bloodstream and cause serious problems to the dog’s heart. It might even lead to death.
Things are usually easier when you have a puppy because you can slowly introduce the toothbrush and the proper cleaning technique. However, if you have a rescue dog or an older dog that has never had its teeth cleaned, it will probably be a little uncomfortable. Here’s how you can clean your dog’s teeth properly.
- Use a special toothpaste for dogs. Toothpaste that is designed for humans can harm your dog.
- Start slow. Let the dog lick the toothpaste and sniff it. Your puppy or dog should like the taste of the toothpaste to let you use it on their teeth.
- Dogs can be a little intimidated by the things they don’t know. First, put some toothpaste on your finger to rub the front teeth of your dog. After a few times, you can use a special dog’s toothbrush.
- Some dogs are still reluctant to have their teeth brushed and there are other options available. There are special dental wipes and sprays that you can use to clean the teeth and gums of your puppy or dog.
Cleaning the dog’s ears is a chance to detect any unusual buildup that might be a symptom of another health problem. There are a few things that you need to buy before you groom your puppy’s or dog’s ears.
- Pick an ear cleanser that doesn’t contain any harsh ingredients like alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
- Cotton pads or balls.
Now that you have these tools, you should examine the dog’s ears. If they look red or smell bad, this is a sign that there’s an internal infection. You should also pay attention to your dog’s reaction because they might itch if there’s an infestation of ear mites.
- Hold the ear flap upright to examine the ear canal. Use a cleansing solution to remove the wax buildup inside the ear. Let the solution sit for about 20 seconds while massaging the bottom of the ear. Hold a towel while the dog shakes its head.
- Use a cotton ball wrapped around your finger to clean the outside part of the ear canal. Don’t use an ear swab inside the ear as you might cause permanent hearing damage.
- Don’t forget to give your dog a treat so the next cleaning session becomes easier.
There are usually sticky globs that accumulate around the eyes of your dog. Using soap or shampoo is quite irritating so you should use a moistened cloth or sponge to remove this goo. Dogs put their faces everywhere so it’s quite common for food particles, dirt, and natural oils to accumulate around the eyes.
This can be done during bath time, especially if your dog is enjoying its time in the tub. Don’t use napkins or tissue paper to wipe your dog’s eyes because they can easily shred.
Tear stains are darker blotches that form near the corner of the eyes due to the reaction of the tears with bacteria on the skin. There are special solutions that are designed to address this problem but if the problem persists, you should take your dog to the vet.
If your dog has dirty paws after going on a walk or playing in the mud, you can use a moistened washcloth to wipe them clean. You might even need a little dog shampoo for more effective cleaning. There are pre-moistened wipes that are available for dogs that can also help with minor cleaning, especially if you’re away from home.
Make sure to wipe between the toes and nails, especially if your dog has been to the beach. This will prevent the accumulation of salt and sand might irritate the dog. After you’ve washed your dog’s paws, you should dry them using a soft towel.
Regular trimming of the hair on the feet will prevent the accumulation of dirt. You can also use dog boots if you’re worried about your dog stepping into the snow.
Regular grooming will help you keep your dog healthy and comfortable. It’s also a potent way of saving some dollars by extending the length between professional grooming sessions.
Using our dog grooming tips, you can have a successful grooming session with your puppy or dog. Keep plenty of treats nearby and teach your dog that grooming is always associated with a positive experience.