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  • Writer's pictureCaméa Allen

Tips and Tricks for DIY Dog Grooming

Updated: May 7

Keeping your dog looking and feeling their best doesn't always require a trip to the groomer. With a little know-how and the right tools, you can transform bath time and brushing into a bonding experience – all from the comfort of your own home. This guide will equip you with the tips and tricks for DIY dog grooming.

Tips and Tricks for DIY Dog Grooming: Get the Right Tools

Before you embark on your grooming journey, invest in quality tools designed specifically for dogs and for use with your dog's hair type.

Get the Right Tools: Brushes

The type of brush you need depends on your dog's coat. A slicker brush works well for short coats, while a pin brush tackles longer fur. Consider a de-shedding brush for heavy shedders.

If you have an established relationship with a professional groomer, ask them for advice on how often and with what tool to brush your dog's hair between appointments. Many groomers sell their favorite tools on-site to make hair maintenance easier on everyone.

Get the Right Tools: Combs

A metal comb is handy for detangling and removing mats. Metal combs can also help you find ticks, fleas, and flea eggs if your dog brings any home from a long walk or hike.

Get the Right Tools: Shampoo & Conditioner

Always opt for a gentle dog-specific shampoo and conditioner that nourishes their coat and skin. Never use dish soap or human-specific products unless your veterinarian has recommended their use. While we see many ads for dish soap being used on wildlife, it's not the safest option on the market and may cause skin and eye irritation.

Get the Right Tools: Nail Clippers & Grinders

Regular nail trims prevent painful overgrowth and cracked nails. Look for clippers designed for dog nails, which come in different sizes for different breeds. And, consider a nail grinder. With some practice, many pet parents and dogs prefer dremel-style tools for managing dog nails.

When choosing a grinder, remember to look at the reviews and specifications and avoid any that are considered too loud. Pets don't like getting their nails cut and they will certainly dislike noisy tools near their paws.

Finally, you'll need styptic powder in case you cut too close to the quick - the pink part inside the nail. See below for nail trimming tips and best practices.

Get the Right Tools: Ear Cleaner

For certain breeds, regular ear cleaning helps prevent infections. Use a vet-recommended solution and follow their instructions for proper cleaning. And, always speak to your vet if your dog is shaking his head, scratching his ears, or tilting his head more than usual as these may be signs of an ear infection.

Tips and Tricks for DIY Dog Grooming: Make Bath Time Blissful

Bathing your dog keeps their coat clean, removes allergens, and helps identify any skin problems. Following are our top tips for making bath time blissful for your pup:

Make Bath Time Blissful: Choose the Location Carefully

Choose a bathing area that's easy to clean and provides good drainage, like a bathtub or shower - a sink will do for the tiny pups. Once you choose a space, consider your safety, your home's cleanliness, and your dog's willingness or reluctance to be bathed. If needed, grab a leash and collar that will keep your dog in place while you bathe him. And, keep all you need handy to help things go more smoothly.

Also, remember that your dog could inadvertently hurt you trying to get away from the water. For this reason, we recommend you avoid glass showers, slippery areas, and distractions. Make it your mission to bathe your dog efficiently so that everyone remains safe and comfortable. Consider playing soothing classical music, which is proven to reduce stress in dogs.

Make Bath Time Blissful: Create a Bath Time Routine

When it's time to bathe your pup, always use lukewarm water, not hot, to avoid scalding your dog's skin. Lather him or her with a dog-specific shampoo, avoiding their eyes and ears. Then, rinse thoroughly to remove all shampoo residue, which can irritate their skin. If your dog is comfortable enough or requires it, use conditioner after rinsing off shampoo. Rinse thoroughly once again, checking to make sure the water is still at an optimum temperature.

Once it's time, wrap your dog in a soft, absorbent towel and gently pat them dry. Consider using a dog blow dryer on a low setting for faster drying, but be mindful of the noise and heat, which may frighten some dogs. Most dogs will roll around after a bath so avoid taking your dog for a walk or into the yard too soon after their bath, especially if they are still wet.

Tips and Tricks for DIY Dog Grooming: Pause on Paws

Regular nail trims are important for your dog's health and comfort but many dogs are very uncomfortable with nail trims. Here are some tips for a stress-free experience for all:

Start by gently handling your dog's paws and touching their nails to get them used to the feeling. Do this before even introducing a nail-trimming tool.

Once it's time to trim their nails, use good lighting like overhead lights or a headlamp. Grab your glasses, if you need them, then only clip the white tip of the nail. Avoid the quick, which can cause bleeding and pain.

If you're not comfortable trimming their nails yourself, consult a professional groomer or veterinarian. We love to have our favorite vet techs trim our pets' nails during wellness visits and other appointments.

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Let's be honest, DIY grooming isn't always perfect. Stay calm, be patient, and offer plenty of praise and positive reinforcement throughout the process. Remember, the goal is to create a positive grooming experience for both you and your dog.

At Hearts at Home, we believe that a well-groomed pet is a comfortable pet - one that can walk confidently, feel safe in his or her own body, and play with abandon. If you don't feel comfortable with DIY dog grooming, we recommend you find a locally owned and operated groomer in the Yorktown area or environs to ensure your dog feels and looks his best.

Our in-home dog walking and pet sitting services are available in Yorktown, Poquoson, Newport News, and Hampton, Virginia. If you are interested in registering your pet(s) with us, please complete a new client questionnaire here. Existing clients may request services here.

Please visit our website or contact us by email at or by phone at 757-745-9868 to learn more. We love keeping pets happy!

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