If your dog needs a haircut, and let’s face it, they can look pretty scruffy if they are left to themselves for too long, you can book into the local dog salon and pick them up again sparkling and neat.
If the groomer is booked, too far away or you’d like to save a few dollars though you might want to think about grooming your pup yourself at home. This is especially handy in summer when they might need a trim to cool down or a clean after romping in water to cool off.
My dog Gizmo needs a fair amount of work to look neat and tidy. I have a groomer come around and groom him but when I can’t manage that, I follow these steps.
The first few times you try this you might want to leave some room for error, so don’t attempt before a big doggy date or when you are expecting company who might give you some quizzical looks.
Overall your dog will be less stressed if you groom yourself at home, in familiar surrounds with familiar hands, it also means you can get onto it as soon as tangles show up, rather than wait until the mess really sets in.
Trimming your dog’s coat at home is very easy, but you do need the right equipment and some helpful advice to get you started.
Here’s what you need to have before you get going:
A high quality brush or comb
There are so many on the market so knowing which ones are best can be a bit overwhelming. If your dog has a long coat go for a metal-pinned brush. If your dog has a short coat then go with a rubber brush.
Professional grade grooming scissors
You want the best here so you can cut quickly without pulling, snagging or damaging the hair.
Electric Dog Hair Clippers
Make sure you get groomers clippers. Dog clippers are much easier to use than those that are designed for human hair, they are also safer than the human variety so you can feel confident knowing you won’t cause your pooch any harm. Just make sure the blades are sharp and in good condition or the teeth will snag and pull on your dog’s hair.
Shampoo that is designed for a dog’s coat is much healthier than human hair shampoo, which can strip the oil from their skin and leave them dry and itchy. Buy high quality shampoo that is free from chemicals.
WHAT TO DO:
A clean coat is the best way to get started, it means less pain and tangles for your dog and it keeps your grooming equipment clean and in good condition. Be careful not to make the bath water too hot, a bath thermometer is an accurate way to know what temperature the water is. You need the dog bath the same as you would have for a human child. You can dilute the shampoo with water to make it easier to rinse out.
Big dogs might be easier to wash outside or in the shower stall.
It’s important to have the dog’s coat completely dry before brushing. A gentle yet thorough brushing is essential to shed tangled, matted and dead hair. Start at the head and move down the dog’s body with the brush going the same way as the hair. When you get to the chest and underside follow the fur direction carefully and gently as it changes a lot in this very sensitive area. If you find tangles that can’t be brushed out don’t persist with them, your dog will run out of patience if you keep tugging away, just leave any big clumps for later in the grooming process.
Technically you can cut your whole dog’s coat with scissors, however, clippers are much faster, safer and have a cleaner finish so it pays to do this step the right way.
Use the guard that comes with the set to determine what length you want to cut the coat. If you want to go for a shorter option (small guard) it’s still best to start with the largest guard and work your way down.
No matter the length of your dog’s hair start with the large clipper guard to cut out any clumps you found and couldn’t move when brushing. Keep an eye out for infected areas on the dog’s skin if the clumps make very close contact. Any redness, obvious infection or swelling needs to be look at by a vet before you continue, as you may further agitate the area.
Just like with brushing, work the clippers slowly from the dog’s head down, following the direction of the hair rather running than against it.
You want your dog to be still for this so a helping pair of hands to hold your dog can come in handy. This is especially important if you have a nervous dog. If your dog is frightened by grooming equipment (and many are) keep some treats on hand to reward your dog for staying still, take breaks to pat and sooth your dog and speak reassuringly as you go. Even if you have a calm dog the clippers do get hot so be sure to take breaks frequently and test the blades for heat.
Now it’s time to even out the edges and clean up with scissors. You are working around the delicate zones now so go carefully. It’s safest if you only use the tips of the scissors for cutting as you make smaller movements and can pull away quickly if your dog gets restless. Again, it is really important to have someone help out by holding your dog still.
Carefully touch up the scruffy hairs on your dog’s legs, around the ears and face.
Finish off with a final brush to shake off any loose hair and you have a well polished and comfortable dog.