How to Groom a Dog at Home

A lot of responsibilities come with adopting a dog—including when it comes to grooming. Although some breeds are more low maintenance than others, all dogs require at least some level of grooming to maintain healthy fur, skin, paws, and teeth.

Because professional dog grooming comes at a cost, some dog owners prefer to handle this grooming on their own. To do this, though, you’ll need to understand your dog’s unique grooming needs, as well as the techniques and tools involved in safely grooming your dog at home.

person showing how to groom a dog at home

What is Dog Grooming?

While some people think of dog grooming as giving your dog a fancy haircut, grooming is about much more than upgrading the appearance of your pet. Dog grooming also involves caring for your dog’s hygienic needs to improve their health and overall quality of life, and to reduce the risk of health complications and other discomforts that can arise when grooming needs are neglected for a long period of time.

Even if your favorite part of grooming is the stylish way your dog looks after a fresh shampoo, brushing and cut, this clean appearance also reflects attentive, loving care.

Why is Dog Grooming Important?

If you go too long without tending to your dog’s hygienic needs, it can create new problems and risks for your pet. These risks can include:

  • Long nails at risk of tearing from the nail bed. Because most dogs don’t naturally wear down their nails on hard surfaces outside, they need frequent nail trims to keep nail length in check and avoid painful injuries to the nail and nail bed.
  • Matted fur. When hair isn’t properly washed and brushed, it can become matted over time, which results in painful sores on your dog’s skin. If you spot matted fur on your dog, it’s important to have those mats removed by a trained groomer or veterinarian.
  • Other skin problems. Dry skin, sunburns, and fungal infections are some of the skin problems that can result when grooming isn’t maintained.
  • Gland expression. Some dogs have trouble expressing their anal glands naturally, which can cause them to swell and become painful. Groomers can express these to improve your dog’s comfort.
  • Dental issues. Improper dental care can lead to plaque buildup, gingivitis, and tooth decay.

How to Groom a Dog at Home: Tips for DIY Grooming

Eager to try your hand at grooming your dog by yourself? Here are some valuable tips to keep in mind:

  • Give your dog a grooming bath at least once every three months. Keep in mind that this is the minimum recommendation for bathing your dog. Depending on their activity level, time spent outdoors, breed or underlying skin issues, you may need to give baths more frequently.
  • Brush your dog’s hair to prevent tangles and matting. Again, the questions of when and how to brush dog’s hair will be answered by your dog’s breed, hair type, and personal hygiene needs. In general, you want to brush them frequently enough that hair isn’t matted or knotted and getting pulled out of their skin. You may also want to brush regularly to inspect your dog for ticks, fleas, and skin issues that may be hidden.
  • Figure out how to cut dog hair with scissors before you start. Look up common styles and watch videos of professional groomers cutting the same kind of hair as your dog. Keep in mind that for some dogs, a scissors trim is unnecessary, and most or all the hair can be cut with an electric razor.
  • Be careful when trimming your dog’s nails. Cutting off too much nail at once will cut into your dog’s quick, which will be painful and likely bloody. You want to cut your dog’s nails frequently and in small amounts to maintain a healthy nail and avoid injuring them. The use of specialized dog nail trimming tools is recommended, as these will help you accurately and safely cut the nail.
  • Be careful not to shave your dog’s hair too short. Shaved hair can increase your dog’s risk of sunburn, and it could disrupt their ability to regulate their body temperature and keep themselves warm.
  • Brush your dog’s teeth as a part of regular grooming. While services like bathing and haircuts can be done periodically, proper dental hygiene will have you brushing your dog’s teeth on a regular basis. This brushing should be done even when giving your dog dental treats and chew toys that clean their teeth and gums. Remember to use special dog toothpaste, not toothpaste intended for humans.
  • Use grooming sessions to thoroughly inspect your dog’s physical condition. From paws to ears to eyes, get up close and look for any abnormalities or signs of injury that might require a visit to the vet.

How to Find Mobile Dog Grooming Services Near Me

As an alternative to cutting your dog’s hair on your own, some pet owners have discovered the convenience of using mobile dog grooming services to bring the professional grooming experience to their home. These mobile grooming services can be quick and cost-effective, reducing stress for your dog and saving you a trip to the groomer.

To find these mobile dog grooming services, you might start with your local veterinarian’s office. Your vet may have a recommendation for a mobile dog groomer—or they might offer mobile grooming services as part of their veterinary care. You can also ask friends and family for recommendations and search your local area through Google and other search engines.

Grooming a dog can be easy or difficult, depending on their grooming needs and your dog’s temperament. If you’re ready to try it on your own, make sure you enter the process prepared with the right tools and know-how. And if you decide it’s time to pay a professional, find a trusted dog groomer working in your community.