At Puppy Shop Boys we strongly believe that if you own a dog you need to groom on a regular basis. We probably don’t need to tell you that they can be a lot of work, but ultimately worth it. Along with plenty of exercise, proper diet, regular visits to the vet and lots of love, grooming is a critical responsibility.
Regular grooming ensures that your dog remains clean, healthy and feels comfortable. Grooming is more than just washing your dog’s fur and brushing. It’s a head-to-toe exercise which gives you a great opportunity to make sure that everything about your dog looks clean, healthy and normal. Some dog owners opt to leave this responsibility to professional dog groomers, but with a few tips and pointers, you can perfectly do it on your own.
If you don’t have a professional dog groomer in your area, or just prefer to take your time grooming and bonding with your dog, then this article will guide you through what you need and should do during the grooming process. The best part is you will also save some money while at it. We will segment each grooming practice into a separate section, but first, let’s take a quick look at things you need.
Puppy Shop Boys – grooming equipment
Depending on the task at hand, you need to have all the things required before you start grooming your pet, you don’t want to stop midway to fetch or start looking for some tools. Here is a general list of the tools and items you will need when preparing to groom your dog. They might vary depending on the breed and size of your dog.
Things You’ll Need
- Curry brush or glove
- Ear cleaner
- Rubbing alcohol
- Cotton ball/cloth
- Pet toothbrush
- Dog nail clippers
- Dog shampoo
- Blow dryer/towel
- Slicker, Pin brush, or Undercoat rake
Brushing your dog
Brushing your dog removes excess fur and dirt, and also prevents tangles. Additionally, it removes dead hair and conditions the hair by spreading their natural oils. Your dog’s coat length and type will determine what kind of tools to use and how often you should brush. You should brush your dog’s hair every after a couple of days.
Simply brushing your dog’s hair is not enough for most dogs; the brush will only pass over the coat at angles and allow mats to build up. You should always start your grooming with a thorough combing to make sure that mats don’t become tight and unmanageable when they dry. The standard procedure is to comb from the head, back and down to the rest of the body. If you find tangled hair, use a brush to try and work out the knot.
Be carefully not to irritate your pet from grooming in the same spot for too long, and go slow under the belly as it is a sensitive area. Don’t forget to comb the tail. You can use curry brushes to groom short-haired dogs while the medium- to long-coated dogs might require more specialised tools such as a slicker, steel comb, pin brush or an undercoat rake.
If your dog has severe matting, they can feel a little uncomfortable when moving around. If the mat can’t be combed out, then you need to either shave or cut it off. Be careful when using scissors and try to cut parallel to the growth of the hair to avoid injuring your pet or ending up with a rough look. If you are not sure you can safely remove the mat, then you might need to take him to a professional groomer. Keep in mind that mats that are too tight and close to the skin can occasionally promote bacterial infection underneath.
Dog Groomer Certification
Dog grooming does not require certification or certain qualifications. On the other hand, having a certification can help a groomer enhance their credential and earning potential. Certification will also afford a groomer the confidence and skills to better groom their furry clients.
Several certification options can further enhance your skills in your dog grooming endeavours. Below are some of the recognised organisations you can get your certification from;
International Professional Groomers Inc:
- This is a worldwide recognised organisation that certifies individual dog groomers and also accredits grooming schools, salons, and mobile grooming salons. Groomers can either pursue the Salon Details Certification (SDC) program or the International Certified Master Groomer (ICMG) program.
International Society of Canine Cosmetologists (ISCC):
- This is another global organisation that certifies groomers through a blend of practical and written examinations. ISCC’s testing is offered at all their education events, local proctor services and major shows where ISCC has a booth.
National Dog Groomers Association:
- An international association that offers certification via its National Certified Master Groomer program. The certification involves a series of practical and written skills tests across several breed groups. Some of the practical skills tests include grooming of sporting breeds, non-sporting breeds, short-legged terriers and long-legged terriers.
You can also look around for organisations that offer training and certification from within institutions in your region. There are also various online dog grooming courses you can enrol to and pick up the required skills.
Puppy Shop Boys Bathing
Bathing your dog will keep them clean and smelling fresh and this is the Puppy Shop Boys favorite part of grooming. The ritual of bathing is something you need to do once or twice per month unless your dog is smelly or has done something messy. Bathing your dog too frequently can deprive the skin of natural oils and leave them dry.
Start by choosing an appropriate shampoo for your pet’s skin, age, and coat type. Put everything you need in place and make sure you are appropriately dressed because it can get a little messy and wet. Secure your pet in non-slip basin or tub; you can put a non-slip bath mat or a towel in the tub.
Pre-fill the tub or basin with lukewarm water. Try to avoid running water into the tub while your dog is in it to avoid causing unnecessary stress. As a rule, always go slow to avoid overwhelming your pet which can make the process unpleasant for both of you. Not many dogs are fans of bath time, so you need to work quickly but gently; you can use treats to add some fun to the process.
If your dog has a habit of trying to escape during bath-time, you can purchase a dog bath lead designed to attach to the bathroom wall using a suction cup. Remember to replace the dog’s collar with one that will not soak up in water and stain the coat.
Soak your pet thoroughly and make sure that the entire coat is completely wet before you apply shampoo. If you have an unusually large dog with a thick coating that is not afraid of running water, then you can buy a high-pressure hose to ensure efficient soaking. Otherwise, you can just use a bucket or cup to pour water over the dog. Avoid getting water into the ears of your dog as this can cause bacterial infection.
Next, shampoo your dog starting from the neck moving downwards. Use your finger to spread and work the shampoo into the hairs and skin. You can also use an undercoat rake to distribute the shampoo if your dog is particularly dense coated and large. Use a wet washcloth or towel to wash the head and avoid using soap around eyes and ears.
Keep rinsing your dog until there are no more soap bubbles or dirt coming out of its coat. You can apply the same technique you used to soak your dog before shampooing. Use your hands or a squeegee to squeeze out water off the coat and the body, and then use a towel to dry your dog as much as possible while still in the tub or basin. If your dog is short-haired, you can simply towel and let them dry naturally. Long-haired dogs with thick coats might need some blow drying after towelling to quicken the process.
Trimming dog’s nails can be quite a tricky and daunting process to some people –and rightfully so. If you trim your pet’s nails too short, they will bleed, and if you don’t clip them enough, they can develop issues such as infections, nail break, and played or twisted “toe” and “fingers”.
The Puppy Shop Boys trick to becoming a pro nail trimmer is to teach your dog to associate nail clipping sessions with things like toys, treats, love, and lots of positive praise. Just don’t expect too much from your dog in the very first attempt, it might take a few tries for both of you to get it right.
Depending on how first they grow, you should trim the nails at least once in every two weeks. Use dog clippers to clip the nails one small bit at a time to avoid cutting too close the blood vessels. If you accidentally cut too near the blood vessels, apply cornstarch or styptic powder with a bit of pressure to stop any bleeding. Again, if you are not sure you can pull this off safely or can’t even tell when you should clip your dog’s nails, it might be a good idea to consult your vet. If you can hear the sound of your dog’s claws touching the ground, then they need trimming.
Brushing your dog’s teeth is almost a daunting and nail clipping, but critical in keeping your dog healthy. To keep your dog’s oral health tip top, aim to regularly brush your dog’s teeth at least three times per week. Interestingly, experts reveal that brushing your dog’s teeth frequently can increase its life expectancy by up to two years.
I must mention that teaching your dog to tolerate his teeth being brushed requires some patience. Start by getting your dog used to having his mouth touched, then try to work your way up to brushing with a dog brush and paste. Be sure to use dog paste instead of human paste so that you don’t poison your pet with fluoride. If by any chance you have ever been bitten by your dog, you will need to be extra careful on how you approach the process. If the dog gets overwhelmed at any one point, give him a break to calm down.
Before the actual brushing, you can start by placing a small amount of paste on your finger and spreading across his teeth for about 10 seconds. Once your dog cooperates, you can advance to using finger toothbrushes and work your way up to using the actual dog toothbrush. However, much as your dog may seem to be cooperative, always start the process gradually to make it pleasant and avoid any unnecessary stress.
If your dog already has a significant buildup of plaque and tartar, you may not be able to clean the teeth thoroughly using a simple toothbrush. At this point, your dog will need professional cleaning from a veterinarian. Look out for brown material attached to the teeth or red gums; this is a clear sign that home cleaning might be painful.
For general dental care, provide suitable chew items such as chew toys and dental toys. Consult your vet about the kind of bones to give to your particular type of dog, although raw, human-grade bones are preferred for most dogs.
Cleaning his ears
You should regularly check your dog’s ears to make sure that they are healthy and clean, and dog grooming time is the best time to do this. A healthy ear will be light pink in colour with no signs of irritation or debris. It’s normal for healthy ears to have some traces of clear wax, but this should not have any particular smell.
If your dog’s ears appear to be dirty, you can clean them using a cotton ball dampened in mineral oil, hydrogen peroxide or specialised ear cleaning solutions. Wipe wax and dirt away from the inner ear gently so that you don’t cause irritation. Don’t push too far into the year, and never be tempted to use cotton swabs. The general rule of thumb is to clean what you can see.
If you notice redness, unpleasant smell, swelling, hair loss, dark brown/black wax or discharge, it could mean that your dog has an infection and you should seek medical attention from the vet. Dogs with droopy ears, recurrent ear infections or allergies should be monitored closely, and the owner should seek medical advice.
It might help to bring the ear cleaning solution to room temperature before apply it to the dog’s ears. When you finish wiping the ear with a damp cloth or cotton ball, use a dry one to dry it up. Praise your dog with some treats and cuddles; the ears are quite sensitive so he may need some encouragement.
Many dog breeds are short-haired and do not need regular hair clipping. But if your dog is a shaggier, thick coated breed, he might require regular clipping as part of basic dog grooming exercise. Before clipping your dog’s hair, make sure it’s dry, and that you are using the right clippers for your kind of dog. Be sure to read the clipper’s instruction manual on how to correctly use it. Also, make sure that the Clippers are well lubricated, and the blades are sharp.
Since you won’t have to pay for a professional grooming fee, a small investment in proper dog grooming clippers is worth it. A pair of scissors can do the job too but are not likely to give you an even, beautiful coat, and there are high chances of hurting your dog or yourself if he moves suddenly.
Before clipping the dog, just like when heading to the salon or barber shop, you need to have an idea of what look you would like to create. The cut style will depend on your dog’s breed and your preferences. There are numerous cut styles such as the standard cut, top knot cut, show cut, bob cut, teddy bear cut, Maltese short cut, among others. You can also search for specific cut styles for your breed and watch videos on how each of them is done.
During the hair clipping process, you can restrain the dog gently using a leash so that he doesn’t run around spreading fur all over. If your dog is nervous or fidgety, praise him, sing or offer some treats to encourage him to stay calm and still.
Brush the hair against the direction of the growth before running your clippers in the other direction. Using the clippers against the hair growth direction will lead to low uneven clipping with a rough look. Move the Clippers surely but slowly across the pet’s body to avoid uneven lines. Begin at the neck towards the shoulders, under the ears, throat, chest area, back and legs. As a precaution, do not use any skip blades on any spot of the body that will fit between the teeth, such as armpits, anus, Achilles’ tendons, the tip of the tail, or genital area.
Skin care and grooming
Dog skin can be affected by plenty of things that you need to know about and expect. The skin is the most sensitive part of your dog, and any irritation or discomfort of any kind can leave your dog helpless and agitated.
You should look out for pests such as ticks, fleas, mange, chiggers and fungus ringworms that can be detrimental to your dog’s health. If you have any suspicions, act immediately to avoid potential spreading of the pest.
Watch out for skin diseases and any other causes of allergies that might irritate your dog. Some symptoms if allergies include licking, scratching and hot spots. Lastly, avoid bathing your dog too often as this may wash away the natural oils from the skin and cause dry skin. Other things to look out for on the skin during dog grooming include rashes, hair loss, red skin, discoloured skin, dry fleck skin and greasy skin or coat.
Keeping your dog’s eyes clean
Depending on your particular breed, this step may only involve pulling a little debris and dirt from the corners of the eyes. Breeds with large eyes that water a lot may need personal attention in this area. White-haired or long-haired breeds too need close monitoring to keep the coat out of the eyes and avoid tear stains.
Healthy clean eyes should be clear with no signs of unusual discharge or irritation. Trimming long hair strand away from the eyes is a good practice. However, I highly recommend that you seek the help of a groomer or vet for this one unless you are very familiar with the process. If you decide to clip off the hairs on your own, use a blunt-nosed safety scissors. Try as much as you can to avoid touching the eyes.
The best time to clean your dog’s eyes is during bathing. Use a water-moistened sponge or washcloth to wipe around the eyes gently. This loosens and removes the dirt. Be sure to approach this area carefully so that you don’t startle your dog. Never use shampoo or soap near your dog’s eyes to avoid irritation. Also, avoid using napkins or paper towels as these can easily shred and leave small bits of paper in your dog’s eyes.
Combating “doggy smell.”
A smelly dog, no matter how cute it looks, is not pleasing to have around. In fact, one of the reasons that make people think twice before owning a dog or letting it spend time in the house or car is the odour. Unpleasant dog odours can be varied but come from bad breathe, poorly maintained fur, flatulence, rolling or stepping into feces, and bacterial and fungal infection.
Eliminating dog smell requires anything from a few steps to a whole series of processes depending on the primary cause of the smell. Bad dog odour can be combated by ensuring that all the hygienic dog grooming practices are carried out as regularly as possible. These include bathing, washing the ears, and brushing your dog’s teeth.
Other measures to combat the “dog smell” include washing dog beddings regularly, using scented shampoo, adjusting your dog’s diet to reduce flatulence, and ensuring your dog doesn’t eat from trash cans.
Puppy Shop Boys Bonus dog grooming tips
- If you own a wolf dog or particularly large breeds, never clip their hair short as this might make them aggressive
- If you can’t find time to thoroughly clean and groom your dog, consider hiring a professional groomer.
- Use a small amount of conditioner to prevent your dog from looking and feeling greasy
- When bathing the dog, keep the water away from the nose as this might startle and irritate your dog.
- Never use human toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth
- Try to avoid getting soap and shampoo into your dog’s eyes.
We hope you enjoyed our Puppy Shop Boys tips on how to groom your pet completely, and just remember if you are uncomfortable doing anything, please seek out the professionals as there are many local dog groomers that love their job and your dogs!