Hi, my name’s Kirsty and my dog Ruby, a springer spaniel cross and is a longer haired breed. She isn’t a show dog so doesn’t need a fancy haircut, but without a regular groom she looks like she’s wearing boots and a deerstalker hat. She also has a beard, which is rather unfortunate for a lovely lady!
Unfortunately she is terrified of the groomers, whether it be in a shop or in a person’s home. Not wanting to put her through unnecessary stress I made the decision to undertake a grooming course so I could give her a regular groom at home. As well as making her feel more comfortable, it saves a fortune!
What tools do you need to groom your own dog?
The first tool you need is basic grooming knowledge. Before reaching for those scissors, you need to understand the best way to brush your dog’s hair, how to cut their nails and how to keep them calm through the process. This is where a course comes in, or alternatively there are some excellent YouTube videos which can help.
As I wanted to make sure I had as much information as possible and not wanting to do any damage to Ruby’s coat, I went on a local dog grooming course. I’m going to share with you some of the important tips I learned.
Practical tools you will need include:
- A High-Quality Shampoo
- Professional-Grade Scissor
- A Brush
- Dog Clippers
These should all be thoroughly researched before purchasing to ensure they are the right tools for your type of dog.
Tips and tricks for washing your dog
Whilst most dogs enjoy water, not many enjoy a bath and the same applies to Ruby. To turn bath time into a more enjoyable experience for everyone, we use a ‘lickimat’ with dog safe peanut butter. It takes a little while for her to become interested, but once she has the first taste of peanut butter, bath time is at the back of her mind.
Once she is fully invested, I will give her a brush to remove any excess hair (this saves the plug from being too clogged up!), then I’ll wet her entire body from head to tail before starting to shampoo.
Drying your dog
With a short-haired breed it’s very easy to let them air-dry, however my dog would take a long time and find herself very tangled if I did this so I do a combination. If you’ve got a double coated dog, it’s also worth bearing in mind they can be more prone to heat spots as the coarser undercoat can trap moisture as well as body heat when left to dry naturally.
When Ruby gets out of the bath I let her have a big shake before using an ultra-absorbent towel to start the drying process. I am lucky that Ruby also quite enjoys a blowdry, so I’ll use this on its lowest setting to ensure her fur is completely dry before I start cutting!
You will also need to give your dog a brush before cutting commences. Be gentle, and if there are any matted areas then brush around them – you want your dog to remain comfortable!
Cutting your dog’s fur with clippers
I always use clippers to trim Ruby. But before doing so you need to ensure your dog is comfortable and in a safe place.
- Your clippers should be kept sharp so they don’t catch on your dog’s hair and get stuck.
- Make sure you’re using dog clippers not your own ones as they’re usually quieter.
- If this is the first time cutting then always start with the longest length guard then work your way down.
- Go slow, and work your way down your dog’s body in the direction of hair growth.
- If your dog becomes unsettled at any point then stop and take a break.
Trimming with scissors
I regularly have to trim Ruby’s face as her hair grows over her eyes.
- For cutting around the eyes you obviously need your dog to be as still as possible, which isn’t easy when they can see a sharp object coming towards them!
- It’s really important to have a second person to hold your dog still when using scissors.
- Also, use only the tips of the scissors to trim this area, and if your dog becomes agitated at any time then pull them away.
My Top tips for grooming at home
- It often takes me a whole afternoon – on and off – to give Ruby a full groom. If your dog has had enough, let them have a break and give yourself a break too. Dogs can sense your stress, so give yourself plenty of time and stay calm.
- Long haired dogs can easily become matted but even shorter haired dogs can get matted areas underneath their legs. When you groom, check your dogs ears and around their eyes as well.
Research, research research
- Make sure you understand your dog’s requirements before doing any clipping or cutting. Does your dog have a double coat? If so you will need to groom them differently.
Know your limits
- Whilst I know how to clip dog’s nails, I don’t feel comfortable doing it. Ruby also senses this, so it’s better to take her to her favourite pet shop and ask them to do it instead. Likewise, some dogs don’t like their ears being cleaned in which case taking them to a professional makes much more sense.
Don’t overbathe them
- Dogs don’t need to be cleaned every day and it can actually be detrimental doing this. How often you groom your dog can massively depend on the breed, another reason why research is so important! Brushing, nail clipping, teeth and ear cleaning should however always be done regularly.
Grooming your pooch can be a really enjoyable and bonding experience, so don’t give up if you aren’t happy with the results the first time.