The Do’s and Don’ts of Grooming Your Dog at Home


Some pet parents simply prefer to groom their dogs at home. Even those who do take Fido to the groomer’s may still preform maintenance grooming at home. Regardless of your dog’s grooming schedule, there are a few precautions you should take as you carry out this important task.

Some pup parents opt to take their dog to a professional groomer for haircuts, and they do “maintenance” grooming on a daily or weekly basis, depending on their dog’s needs. Others do all grooming at home. Either way, you’ll need to establish a few good habits in order to make grooming a positive experience.

Begin a grooming regimen when your pup is young.

Dogs must be acclimated to grooming, especially when you are trimming nails or brushing long, thick (read: tangled!) hair. Start when your pup is young, as soon as ten or twelve weeks of age. Begin by handling his paws and ears. Get him used to you touching him, and do your best to make it fun. Dogs learn best when the remember positive experiences associated with a task, so do everything you can to make handling a good thing.

Move from touching and handling to one grooming task at a time. Start by brushing with a slicker brush. This brush has bristles that are gentle. Your dog will likely accept this part of the grooming regimen fairly easily. Then you can move on to the more uncomfortable (for Fido) parts of grooming.

Don’t underestimate how important it is to get your puppy used to being “handled” before you begin grooming him in earnest.

Take, for instance, trimming your dog’s nails. This is typically a task that dogs do not enjoy, even when they have never had any bad experiences with trim time. They do not like for their paws to be held, and sometimes the loud “pop” of the clippers can frighten your dog. Do a few “trial runs” where you hold his paws and talk to him in a soothing manner. If Fido fights you as you clip his nails, then calmly let him rest before resuming nail clipping duty. Take breaks between each set of nails.

There are some pet parents who utilize files to trim Fido’s nails. This is a good idea, but make sure to acclimate your dog to the sound this rotary file makes. Some dogs may be frightened of the noise, which defeats the purpose of the file in the first place! Just as you did with acclimating Fido to having his feet touched, you’ll need to get him used to the noise of the file.

Don’t use a file tool on your dog the same time you introduce the instrument to him.

You might briefly introduce the rotary file to your pup, let him hear the noise and talk soothingly to him. You might do this three or four times before you actually use the tool on Fido.

Gather certain tools for grooming your dog.

You’ll need a brush (the type will depend on your dog’s coat type and length); you’ll also need a toothbrush, nail clippers (or a rotary file, your preference), and you’ll need things with which to clean his ears. Be sure to groom your dog in the same place in your home each time you carry out the task.

You shouldn’t have to purchase the most expensive tools for grooming your dog, but you can utilize good judgment and get quality items. Be sure to keep them clean and dry.

Do be careful with the ears.

You can utilize Q-tips to clean your pup’s ears, but use caution. You never want to push the Q-tip into your dog’s ear, and you want to make sure that you get all the dirt and debris out of the ear canal.

Dip your Q-tip in hydrogen peroxide, and gently wipe the folds of his ears. Only work around the edge of the ear canal; never push the Q-tip inside the canal.

Check for any strange odors. A strange smell in the ears can indicate the presence of ear mites or an infection. In that case, see your vet. Also, the presence of ear mites can be indicated by what appears to be coffee grounds in your dog’s ears. If you suspect that your dog has mites, do not treat with an over-the-counter medication.

If you bathe your dog at home, place cotton is his ears during the bath.

Also, use only organic soap that is made with oatmeal or another natural product. Don’t fall for the label “all-natural.” This may not be true! Look for a shampoo that is a light yellow color, has little fragrance, and does not really “suds up.” This is a truly organic shampoo.

Grooming Fido at home is rather easy! Simply follow the steps above for a positive grooming experience.


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