Dog grooming at home can be a wonderful bonding experience with your pooch.Professional groomers will often spend months attending school or apprenticing with an experienced groomer to learn the basic of their trade, and then years longer perfecting their craft. They’ve invested thousands of hours into studying all about canine anatomy, including bone structure, skin care, breed standards, safe & gentle handling, and so much more.
You don’t need to be a specialist in all these areas to start learning to groom your dog at home though, you just need to be a specialist on your own dog!
Setting Up Your Grooming Area
When dog grooming at home the options for setting up a dog grooming area are endless and totally up to the individual. It can be as simple as a leash tied to a sturdy wall hook outside if you want. This option is great for large dogs who may be difficult to get on a table.
For medium or smaller sized dogs it may be easier on your back to elevate them on table, just make sure they are not going to be able to jump off and hurt themselves. You can either buy a grooming arm to attach to your table, affix a hook to the wall, or get someone to help you with holding the dog.
If you have a very calm dog, some people train their dogs to lie on their sides while being groomed, but that requires a very special level of doggy zen!
However you set it up, make sure you have a separate space available to keep your tools close at hand. It is a good habit to not put your dog grooming scissors down on the table with your dog, as they might accidentally step on them or knock them off, which can damage the blades.
Brushing Your Dog Throughly Is Vital
One of the most important skills for home grooming is making sure that you are brushing your dog thoroughly, getting all the way down to the base of the coat and not skipping areas. The areas that matt most easily on longer dogs are the ‘friction areas,’ where a dog’s day to day movements rubs the fur together, causing it to knot up. This most commonly happens behind the ears, where the collar sits, in their armpits and inner legs, and around their tails, however any longer hair can become matted.
If your dog is already very matted, it may be easiest and gentlest to take them to a professional groomer and have them clipped short, so you can start from scratch with a coat in good condition. Shaving a matted dog requires very special care and technique, as it is much easier to nick the skin when the hair is clumped tightly against it. If your dog is only matted in smaller areas, you can use your thinning shears to help break up the matt. We covered this technique in our article on dog thinning scissors.
Most breeds with longer hair, which get full body haircuts, will require a slicker type brush, to break up mats and brush out loose hair, and a fine toothed, metal comb, to remove any little tangles and for use while trimming.
Medium or short furred dogs should still be combed head to toe with a fine toothed metal comb to ensure they’re mat free, but they may also benefit from rubber curry or de-shedding tool to help get out any extra hair. Just be careful to check the dog’s skin throughout the process and make sure you aren’t brushing in the same spot too much, as you can bruise the skin.
Dog grooming at home can be an intimate and positive experience with your pooch. Just remember to provide lots of positive reinforcement and reward your dog after you are done.