Taking your dog’s grooming into your own hands can be a great option for those short on groomers you can trust. While there are some stipulations surrounding proper practice and pet safety, most aspects of pet grooming can be done in the familiarity of your own home-which your dog will likely enjoy just as much as you. Once you know the basics of how to groom a dog at home, you’ll be all set to get your pooch looking their absolute best.
Keep in mind there are some great dog groomers out there and they are well worth the money if you’re not comfortable with some of the following necessities for your fur baby. You’ll also need to invest in a few tools to make you and your dogs life easier during the process. If your a DIY’er, you can start anywhere you’d like in the grooming process, but if you’re starting with a blank slate, the following order may give you an idea of how grooming should be structured.
1. Brush Thoroughly
Contrary to common belief, a sudsy bath will worsen the tangled situation of your dog’s fur, even if you use conditioner. The moisture and friction from scrubbing will aggravate any existing mats and potentially create new ones. You’ll want to brush your dog’s coat before they take a dip in the tub to prevent excess painful and annoying tangles.
Ideally, your dog should be brushed a few times a week, depending on its breed. Longer hair will understandably need a brush more often, while short-haired breeds can get away with much fewer brushes.
2. Bath Time
The ever-hated bath time is now upon you–but this negative association can easily be prevented and even reversed. Starting with untangled hair is the first step on the path to greatness, but you’ll also want to ensure that the bath water is warm and that you use inoffensive dog shampoo. Strong smells can irritate a dog’s sensitive nose, potentially making breathing painful. You’ll also want to make an effort to keep water out of their ears and eyes–a couple of cotton balls work great in the ears. These steps will keep your dog feeling comfortable and safe, making the whole process easier.
3. Nail Trimming
Dogs naturally won’t enjoy being wrangled and the clipping sensation of nail clippers, especially if they’ve had a painful run-in with an injured nail. However, keeping your dog’s nails short is important for their walk and overall comfort. If you hear tapping when they walk, it’s time to trim their nails. Look for the dark ‘quick’ in the middle of the nail, which will tell you how short you can go.
4. Brush Their Teeth
Dogs need their teeth brushed almost as often as humans do. You should aim for several times a week, or at best, once a day. The ingredients in human toothpaste are toxic to dogs, so make sure you are using one that is safe for doggy teeth. Dogs commonly struggle with a hard toothbrush swiping around their mouths, but there are other products available to lessen this odd sensation. You may want to try a rubber brush that slips over your finger or even dental wipes and liquids.
5. Clean Their Eyes
Tears will naturally leak from your dog’s eyes and build up as a crust over time. If you have a breed with a furry face, these crusty clumps can be even more apparent. You can prevent these unsightly crusties by wiping them around your dog’s eyes with a damp cotton ball. Never use anything besides water, as this could easily irritate sensitive eyes.
6. Ear Cleaning
Your dog’s ears should be cleaned much like their eyes, with just water and a bit of scrubbing. Only clean the outside of their ears, as venturing into their sensitive inner ear can lead to infection and irritation. Depending on the fur levels of your dog breed, you may also need to trim some hair to keep their ear canal breezy and dry.
7. Expressing Anal Glands
Anal glands that aren’t being expressed each time your dog goes poop run the risk of becoming infected and irritated. If your dog is butt-scootching or licking their anus they likely have anal glands that are not able to express as they should (outside). They will scootch and lick to rid themselves of the uncomfortable pressure, and if successful, you’ll definitely notice the rancid smell.
To express the glands, you’ll need gloves and a lubricant like Vaseline. Keep your dog’s tail up throughout the entire procedure. The anal glands are located on either side of the anus, and they’ll likely feel firm to the touch. With your lubed-up index finger, poke into their anus until you get about an inch in. From there, gently squeeze one gland at a time by applying pressure with your index finger and thumb, with your thumb placed just to the right or left of the anus. A thin, brown liquid will come out, which you’ll need to thoroughly clean from the area to prevent lingering smells.