Our beloved furry companions bring boundless joy into our lives and keeping them well-groomed is not only essential for their health but also a wonderful way to bond and reward. Dogs love to look their best, just like us!
While professional groomers like us offer specialised care, learning the basics of grooming can help you maintain your dog's appearance in the time between appointments. It also ensures a degree of dog well-being in the comfort of your own home.
In this article, we’ll touch on some of the basics that you can do at home, and how you can do them effectively.
Prepare your tools
Gathering the right tools is crucial for a successful grooming session at home.
Dog-specific grooming brushes and combs suitable for your dog's coat type, particularly for longer haired breeds which need regular brushing.
High-quality dog shampoo and conditioner – this is always a good option when bathing your pooch every four to six weeks, or after they’ve rolled in mud.
Towels for drying – the softer and comfier the towel is, the better!
Ear cleaning solution and cotton balls – ear cleaner should be specific for dog use, not human use.
Remain relaxed – your dog feeds off of your energy, so a calm demeanour and some treats will go a long way to keeping your dog relaxed.
Brushing your dog
Regular brushing helps prevent tangles and mats, reduces shedding, and keeps your dog's coat healthy. Choose the appropriate brush for your dog's fur type:
Bristle brushes for short-haired dogs. This brush type has clusters of tightly packed natural bristles which will remove loose hair and stimulate the skin. Bristle brushes can be used on breeds such as Pugs, Italian Greyhounds, Jack Russell Terriers, and Boston Terriers.
Slicker brushes for medium to long-haired dogs. These types of brushes have fine, short wires close together on a flat surface. Slicker brushes can be used on dog breeds including, Golden Retrievers, Yorkshire Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, and St. Bernards.
Pin brushes for dogs with long, silky coats. Pin brushes are the most commonly used type of brush, but often the least useful. They will pick up loose hair before it is shed onto your furniture.
Undercoat rakes for double-coated breeds are designed to penetrate a thick coat and remove tangles and dead undercoat near the dog’s skin. This brush type is used for breeds such as German Shepherds, Malamutes, and Chow Chows.
A slicker brush is more effective at dealing with the removal of any dead hairs if your dog is moulting. It can also be a good idea to comb the coat through afterwards with a grooming comb to help check for any remaining knots. With the right brush, your dog will enjoy a daily grooming session while looking good and staying healthy.
While bathing frequency varies based on your dog's activity level and coat type, most dogs benefit from a bath every four to six weeks. Follow these steps:
- Brush your dog before bathing to remove loose fur and mats.
- Use lukewarm water and a dog-specific shampoo to prevent skin irritation.
- Gently massage the shampoo into the coat, avoiding the eyes, ears, and mouth.
- Rinse thoroughly to ensure no shampoo residue remains.
- Apply a dog conditioner if needed, especially for long-haired breeds.
- Towel-dry your dog, and if they tolerate it, use a hair dryer on a low, cool setting.
It’s important to keeping your dog's nails at an appropriate length because it is crucial to their comfort and health. However, we’d recommend a trip to the groomers to get your dog’s nails trimmed safely.
Home clipping can result in cutting too close to the quick, the pink area with blood vessels. This can result in bleeding and discomfort. If you accidentally cut the quick and bleeding occurs, use styptic powder to stop the bleeding.
Check your dog's ears regularly for dirt, wax build-up, or signs of infection. Clean the outer ear using a dog-specific ear cleaning solution and cotton balls. Never insert anything deep into the ear canal and consult your veterinarian if you suspect an ear infection.
Oral hygiene is often overlooked but essential for your dog's overall health. Brush your dog's teeth regularly using a specialised dog toothbrush and toothpaste, as human toothpaste can be harmful to dogs. Dental chews and toys can also help maintain dental health.
Keep your dog's eyes clean and free from discharge. Use a damp cotton ball to gently wipe around the eyes. If you notice excessive grit, grime, tearing or redness, consult your veterinarian.
Patience and praise
Remember, grooming should be a positive experience for both you and your dog. Take your time, use a calm and soothing tone, and offer treats and praise for good behaviour.
Know your limit
If you encounter challenges or your dog becomes stressed, don't hesitate to seek professional help from a groomer or veterinarian. We’d always recommend that you book a professional grooming appointment every four to eight weeks, depending on your breed of dog.
The points above are a guide on how to maintain care between grooming appointments. Grooming your dog at home can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience that deepens your bond. By following these basic steps and consistently caring for your dog's grooming needs, you'll help them look and feel their best, ensuring they stay happy and healthy companions for years to come.