Jun 032011

DIY dog grooming

DIY Dog Grooming

The picture at left is the same dog, one hour apart. If you don’t believe it, just watch the video of the grooming process I’ve posted here.

Looks easy in the video, but I have to tell you, the first time I tried to groom our Cocker Spaniel, he tried repeatedly to hang himself from the leash I had around his neck. I gave up on ever doing it myself, and my sister and I took him to trained pet groomers for years until I couldn’t see paying $40-$50 every time he needed a trim. That’s when I went online and bought a dog grooming kit off eBay for twenty some dollars (not knowing I could have gotten a new one for the same price) and trying again.
My first successful attempt at grooming our dog happened in the bathroom. I put our dog, Fabio, on the bathroom counter thinking he needed to be elevated like they do at the groomer’s shop. And I had treats. Lots of them. I wanted to reward him every few minutes for letting me save money.
The grooming went much smoother than I anticipated. Our dog had apparently been “tamed” by the professional groomers, and other than his constant attempts to get at the treats, he was a perfect subject.

This video is my fifth try at grooming Fabio. It went much more smoothly than the first time. Perhaps it’s because I decided it’s a bad idea to have treats or even mention the word treats before the job is done. I was right. No, you probably won’t get professional groomer’s results at home—as I didn’t—but it will do the job of keeping the dog free of chit grass and other nasty summer gunk.

Dog Grooming/Clipping Tips

1. Prepare your dog physically. Bathing your dog will make the grooming clippers go through the dog’s fur much more easily. Brushing the burs and tangles out of the fur is also very helpful.

2. Prepare your dog psychologically. It may take several days to get your dog used to electric grooming clippers. They’re scary to dogs, so spend some time sitting with your dog, petting her, and occasionally touching her with the clippers turned on. Do this several days in a row until your dog doesn’t bolt away from the clippers.

Use scissor in between toes

Grooming scissors

3. Always groom in the direction of hair growth. It’s just a given.

4. Use a small scissors (groomer’s shears) for between the dog’s toes. Trained groomers know how to use the clippers for everything, but I found it much easier and less scary for the dog to use a pair of hair shears.

Nail cutters

Dog nail cutters

5. Clip your dog’s toenails a little at a time. Be careful not to cut into the pink marrow as you get near the paw. You can always use a dremmel to sand the tip of the toenails down more slowly.

6. Give your dog a big treat at the end of the grooming session. Don’t speak of the treat, and don’t show it to your dog before you’re done, or he’ll fidget the whole time.

Hair of the dog coat

Felted Dog Coat

I have a lot of respect for professional dog groomers and think it’s a good idea—even if you decide to tackle grooming at home—to use a professional groomer a few times before you try it yourself. I really don’t think it would have worked for me if I hadn’t.

P.S. When you’re done grooming your dog, you can use his hair/fur to make a felted coat for him!

P.P.S. If you want a good laugh, watch me groom my new Coton de Tulear puppy for the first time:

  13 Responses to “DIY Dog Grooming Like Pro Groomers”

  1. When using a guard comb it’s going to pull (and pop off like that) whenever it hits a tangle, or if it improperly fits your blade. Especially with a Coton de Tulear you have to brush (with a slicker brush) and comb (with a metal comb) all the way down to the skin on every inch of your dog before you can properly use a guard comb.

    Make sure you cool your blade whenever it gets hot, as it will burn your dogs skin otherwise.

    I noticed that you say you find it easier to use a shear in between your dogs toes…that is not safe. Their little wedding can be cut so so easily and many dogs are very sensitive around their feet. Please consider using a #10 blade very gently, going from the top of the foot towards the toes if you must cut the hair between the toes.

  2. Thank you for the helpful hints, i have to cockapoos and have been grooming them for 5 years myself (purely i can’t justify $40 per dog per haircut when I don’t even spend that myself) but for everyone, what would you recommend for sheers for a curly haired type of dog that will last (we have been through 2 pairs and the 2nd pair has gone fast)


    • As a professional groomer I use Andis Ultra Edge or AGC…they are expensive (about $150) but if your dogs allow you to groom them at home and you feel confident, it’s much cheaper to invest in clippers that will last rather than continuing to buy new pairs. Be sure to cool your blades when they get hot, they can burn your dog.

      • Wow, Meg. Thank you so much for your professional tips!! I think I will invest in better clippers. And I think I’ll have Parker shaved clean by a pro so I can get a handle on the matted fur before it happens next time. Sure would be nice to have one of those harness stands for my pup.

  3. I just recently stopped grooming after 12 years. Not only should you try to make your pup comfortable and calm, but you should definitely make yourself comfortable and familiar with the clippers and sscissors. If you feel nervous and anxious, those feelings will pass over to them and that can turn out very bad. Having a professional do it the first couple of times is a wonderful idea, that way even if you’re uncomfortable, your doggie knows what’s happening and is less likely to be afraid.
    A dull blade pulls the hair that you’re wanting to cut. It’s always best to have a sharp blade. The possiblity of cutting them is always there, invest in a clotting product, and then cry like a baby ­čÖé Even the best have this happen, so try not to be to hard on yourself.
    Take your time and make sure the blade doesn’t get to hot. Good Luck