Grooming your dog is an essential part of being a dog parent. Not only does good grooming keep your dog looking and smelling good, but it’s also essential to their health.
At the same time, grooming isn’t easy. After years of practice, I’ve gathered up 10 tips you can use for home dog grooming that I wish I would have known going into it.
1. Prep the bathroom before a bath
Once a dog jumps in the tub for a bath, all hell can break loose pretty quickly, which is why I highly recommend being as prepared as you can be beforehand. Clear the area, have the shampoo beside you, get the towels ready, and put a towel on the floor when your dog steps out so they don’t slip.
And for heaven’s sake, close the door! You don’t want your sopping-wet dog to make a break for it and get the rest of the house wet. (Unfortunately, I’ve learned the hard way on this one.)
Being prepared will make bathtime SO much easier.
2. Squeamish about cutting nails? Use a nail grinder instead
If the thought of clipping your dog’s nails turns your stomach upside down, don’t worry; you’re not alone. There’s a lot of pressure to get it right. After all, if you cut it too short, you’ll hit the “quick,” aka the place where the blood supply is. This leads to bleeding and intense pain for your pup, not to mention the possibility of infection.
If you can master this skill set, clipping your dog’s nails is the fastest and most precise way to trim. But there’s another route: using a pet nail grinder. This slowly grinds down the length of the nail without all the pressure to get it right in an instant. It’s a much less stressful way to trim your dog’s nails.
3. Use baby powder for tangles
If your dog has some nasty tangles in their coat that you just can’t get out, reach for the baby powder. Sprinkling it on your dog’s tangles makes it a whole lot easier to comb out their locks, which makes your job simpler and feels much better for your pup. And as another bonus, your dog will smell so fresh and so clean.
4. Deshedders work wonders
If you have a dog that sheds and leaves hair all over the house, buy a de-shedding tool. Immediately.
Toby’s fur is EVERYWHERE in our house. After all, he is a Labrador, a breed notorious for shedding, and at 110 lbs, he just has a lot of extra body area.
To get ahead of the problem, especially during the times of the year when he sheds his coat, we run a de-shedding tool all over his body. You wouldn’t believe the amount of fur that comes out – fur that would accumulate in the house if we didn’t do this. In the end, it ends up looking like a small dog fell off him.
At about $14, this tool is worth the price.
5. Make sure you rinse off all of the shampoo
Giving a dog a bath can sometimes feel like it takes forever, and toward the end, you (and your dog) probably just want to be done with it. But rushing through things can mean that the shampoo isn’t thoroughly rinsed from your dog’s fur. Leaving excess shampoo can lead to itching and irritation, however, so always make sure you wash the last drop out, even if you’re both so over the whole situation.
6. Brush before bathing
If your dog’s fur tends to get snarly, always brush it out before the bath. It’s much easier to do so when the hair is dry versus all wet and tangled.
Not only will this make it a lot easier for you, but it’ll also be much less painful for your pup.
7. Musher’s Secret works miracles
We discovered Musher’s Secret last winter when Toby’s paws and nose started cracking from the intense cold, and it has been a lifesaver.
The wax-based cream contains vitamin E that moisturizes and helps heal wounds in order to keep your dog’s paws healthy. If you live in a climate with extreme temperatures of really cold or really hot, this is a must-have.
8. Keep grooming wipes on hand
Dogs always seem to have some sort of gunk on them, whether it’s eye boogers or tear stains, crud in their fur, or dirt on their paws.
We recently discovered that they make grooming wipes formulated specifically for our furry friends. All natural and fragrance and allergen-free, these wipes are perfect for when your dog isn’t in the cleanest condition but doesn’t need a full bath just yet.
9. Treats work wonders
For a lot of dogs, grooming can feel pretty invasive. They’re getting grabbed at and poked and prodded. Giving them treats lets them know they’ve been good and deserve a reward for their behavior. It’s a great way to coax them into doing things and going places they just don’t want to.
Still, to this day, we put a treat in the bathtub in order to get Toby to go in there. And he patiently waits for his treat afterward. In the end, two little treats are a small price to pay for having a giant dog obey you in the bath.
10. It’s OK to get help
And finally, you don’t have to go it alone. Grooming your dog, especially ones with complicated coats, takes a lot of time, effort, and skill. It’s more than OK to reach out to a groomer and get help!