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If you have the patience for it and have taken a few training courses, then you can attempt to groom your own dog.
However, keep in mind that working with sharp tools around a restless animal can have, well, interesting results. My first grooming experience left Scooter with a more bare bottom than he cared for!
How Do I Groom My Own Dog
As a dog parent, I opted to groom my dog at home because of the negligence and careless treatment of dogs in pet grooming chains. These businesses are focused on profit and may handle your dog hurriedly resulting in injury, escape, or even death.
To begin the journey of home grooming, I invested in the most essential equipment. These included a comb, grooming clippers, a grooming table, an eye and ear cleaning kit, dental supplies and brushes. Once you have bought your equipment, here is a step by step guide of the process.
1. Gather your supplies
Prepare your supplies well in advance and keep them at hand for easy reach. It is quite frustrating to groom your dog when you have to leave the grooming station frequently to get your equipment. Remember that dogs can grow restless very quickly.
2. Brush the fur and teeth
Brushing the fur helps detangle it, making it easy to cut. If your dog’s hair is matted, then some detangling lotion and a matte rake will help make the fur manageable. In this case, it may be prudent to use an electric dog clipper because a manual clipper is uncomfortable on matted hair. Brushing also gets rid of loose dirt and excess fur before the clipping begins. Also, brush the dog’s teeth using a doggy brush and toothpaste.
3. Trim the nails
Execute this step as quickly as you can. Working the nails too slowly can result in cracked nails. However, take extra care around the live region on the nail to avoid clipping it. This region appears pink on light-colored nails or a black dot on the tip of darker nails.
In case you clip the live area, also known as the quick, apply some styptic powder to stem the bleeding.
Shampooing the dog’s fur is recommended once in four weeks during the general grooming session. The shampoo removes the natural oils the body secretes that aid with hair growth and supple skin. As a result, the dog’s skin becomes dry and susceptible to irritation.
Also, make sure that you do not use shampoo meant for human hair because it disrupts the dog’s acid mantle. When the acidic PH is disrupted, your dog is fair game to parasites, bacteria and viruses. After shampooing, use a conditioner to maintain a healthy mane of hair.
5. Wipe the ears
During shampooing, avoid water getting into your dog’s ears because the wetness can foster the growth of bacteria. Cleaning a dog’s ears should be done using cotton swabs dipped in the ear cleaning solution. Use the swabs in and around the ears and after dry the ears using dry swabs.
6. Dry the fur
Dogs with a light coat of fur can be towel dried, but those with a thick coat need to be blow-dried. Use a hairdryer on low to no heat at all. Brush through the coat as you dry it to untangle hairs. Some caregivers prefer to apply some essential oils to give the fur a nice sheen and leave the dog smelling fresh.
7. Time to clip
After cleaning the fur, it is time to trim it. Use a guard that features enough length to prevent accidents like nicking the dog’s skin. Make sure that the trim is in line with the dog’s natural fur length. Do not go too short or too long.
Best Dog Grooming Practices
Develop a Grooming Schedule
Create a grooming schedule to ensure that your dog doesn’t go for too long with unkempt fur. Lack of grooming can cause the dog to develop skin problems. Regular grooming also keeps the dog comfortable and the people around safe. For example, long, untrimmed nails can pose a health risk to the dog owner in case of a scratch.
Create a Grooming Station
Choose a space that is well lit and roomy for your grooming station. Outdoors works well to mitigate the mess created, but you need to ensure that there is a non-slip surface to prevent accidents. According to dog experts like the Humane Society of the United States it is not advisable to tether a dog, but it can be done for short periods of time with supervision.
However, if you can groom your dog without using the tethering technique, even better. With time, your dog grows accustomed to the grooming, and it becomes a bonding time for both of you. And refrain from grasping the dog’s fur to restrain him or her during grooming. The dog is likely to become aggressive to escape the restraining hand.
Be Mindful of the Breed
Grooming standards and techniques for double and single-coated breeds are different. If your dog is long-haired, you may need more frequent grooming sessions. Also, you need to pay more attention to certain areas of their body like in front of the hind legs or behind the front legs. Some dogs have long hair on their face, behind the ears and also on their paws that need more trimming. Regular brushing can help with such breeds. and it also makes the process more manageable.
That doesn’t mean that if you have a short-haired breed, you can take too long between grooming. They also benefit from regular brushing to keep their skin healthy and coat clean.
Maintain the Grooming Equipment
Remember, the grooming equipment comes in direct contact with the dog. Keep the clippers sharp and clean. Dull clippers tend to tug on the nails of the dog, which is painful. Also, dirty brushes, combs, towels and clippers can carry bacteria and parasites.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I groom a puppy at home?
Puppies are delicate and may not withstand the rigors of professional grooming. A grooming session in a familiar place, like at home, with a trusted person, like you could be better for them. Begin grooming your puppies as early as you can around 16 weeks. Some dogs acclimatize quickly and easily to grooming from the age of 8-12 weeks.
How long should a grooming session take?
With the right equipment, the whole session should take between two to four hours, depending on the breed and the time between the last grooming. A simple bath without a trim will probably take one to two hours, including the drying time. This is the general time frame for both long and short-haired breeds.
A full grooming session that includes bathing, nail and hair trimming, dental cleaning and drying can take up to four hours with large breeds.
The good news is that you can break down the sessions into two days of grooming. Your dog will thank you for it.
How do I groom a senior dog?
Senior dogs tend to have underlying health issues. So keep the grooming sessions shorter and try low maintenance trims. Also, allow the dog to have more breaks. Finally, soothe the dog using an anti-itch cream gently massaged into the skin. Older dogs require just a little more TLC.