Let’s face it, dropping off your dog at the groomer is highly convenient. You can run some errands while someone else deals with what you dread doing. If you’ve found a great groomer that you and your pup like, it is definitely a nice thing to do.
However, sometimes a grooming appointment just isn’t in the budget. Taking care of your dog’s fur and nails yourself can save you lots of money in the long run. It can also help encourage a deeper bond with your four-legged friend.
The first few times might not be easy, though! Here is a broad overview of what you need to know about grooming your dog at home.
Polish Up Your Dog’s Training
Dogs need to learn how to behave calmly as you handle them, especially if there are any tools nearby. Luckily, there are some easy baby steps you can follow to help your dog. Use lots of positive reinforcement when training your dog to not fear the brush, shears, trimmers, etc.
For example, instead of feeding them their entire dinner from their bowl, you can use some of it as rewards for obedience sessions. When they are used to “working” for their food, you can slowly begin to bring in other tasks for them to complete. While high-reward treats are great, they can also cause some obesity issues down the road so finding the right treats – ie, ways to entice your dog without adding a ton of calories into the mix, is an important thing to remember.
Introduce Grooming-Related “Tricks”
The best trick you can teach your dog to help get them comfortable with an important grooming task is to “shake.” This helps them get comfortable with the idea of getting their nails trimmed. From here, extend the duration of how long you hold and start gently manipulating their paw pads and nails before you reward them.
You can also use this technique to introduce other aspects of being groomed, such as the sound of the nail clippers, Dremel, or hair clippers around (but not yet touching) their bodies. This helps get your dog desensitized to these objects. Or better yet, it will teach them to see these items and think, “Yay! Treat time!”
Gather All Your Supplies
Different dogs have different grooming requirements when it comes to their fur type and length. For certain dogs, and certain areas, you’ll need to use special shears to do a good job. There’s a learning curve here, too. If you’re not familiar with straight-blade, curved blade, and thinning models, see this helpful list of the types of grooming shears and definitely consider blunt nosed curved shears for hair around their paw pads. It definitely makes the job easier and much safer.
Look up your dog’s breed online to find which tools are best for their grooming specific fur needs. For a complete home groom, you’ll need to get the following items:
• Lots of high-value treats (boiled chicken, freeze-dried beef liver, etc.)
• A brush, comb, or de-shedder tool
• Hair clipper or shears for long-haired dogs
• Dog-safe products (i.e., shampoo or paw pad protection wax)
• Nail clippers or a nail grinder (Dremel) tool
• An old towel and a small cloth
• A grooming table or place outside to leash up your dog
Treat Grooming Sessions Like Training Sessions
After your dog gets used to their paws being touched and the sound of the grooming supplies, it’s time to start to introduce the feeling of these to them. This may mean clipping one nail at a time and following immediately with a treat. Take it slow, and reward your dog often for good behavior.
Make Grooming a Routine
For most dogs, weekly brushing is enough. Make sure to trim nails on at least a monthly basis (long nails can cause structural issues). A quick rinse while playing in the hose can do wonders for your dog’s fur. Sticking to a regular grooming routine is essential for helping your dog learn to tolerate (and maybe even enjoy) it.
After you understand everything you need to know about grooming your dog at home, it’s just a matter of practice and consistency. This is for your dog’s health (and your home’s cleanliness). Stock up on treats and get started today with the basic foundations to make grooming as enjoyable as possible for you and your dog!