Dog Grooming for Beginners – How to Groom a Dog

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Do you think that dog grooming is a skill you could not possibly master? You can only just style your own hair so how can you groom a dog.

You should at least know the basics of dog grooming, so that you can keep your dog happy, healthy and looking good. If your dog just needs a trim it is far easier, and cheaper, to do it yourself.

The Basics of Dog Grooming

Dog grooming consists of physically maintaining the appearance of the dog. Plus these grooming tasks prevent your pooch from developing health problems. Or help you to identify them early.

It is actually quite simple to groom your dog at home. However, you do need to know some of the dos and don’ts.

You should groom your dog based on his breed and hair type. If your dog is a short-hair Chihuahua, his needs will be different from a Lhasa Apso that grows long and silky hair. Also, your dog may have a skin irritation, nail or ear condition. You’ll need to address those concerns as well as normal grooming.

Between Professional Grooming Sessions

Even if you take your dog to a professional dog groomer, you’ll need some basic tools at home. This is to maintain and care for him between grooming sessions. For example, you need a brush to prevent dogs with long hair from developing tangles and matting. Both of these might result in irritation to your dog.

You may not have to trim your dog’s nails if you take him regularly to a groomer. But if your dog’s nails grow rapidly or you wait a long time between grooming sessions, you may need nail trimmers and file.

Bathing a dog can be a problem, especially if you have a big one. Little dogs can be bathed in the bathtub. But you may need another means to bathe a large dog. Such tubs or other tools can be purchased online or in your local pet store.

Dog Grooming Needs

You may also be able to purchase dog shampoo at your local pet store. Check with your dog’s vet to make sure you don’t need a special shampoo that will better clean and treat your dog’s skin.

Your vet will also tell you to use ear cleaners and medication for problems such as allergies. You might also need to use special drops for your dog’s eyes or take care to wipe excessive “tearing” from around the dog’s eyes. This is so that eye infections don’t occur.

Dog grooming is important to ensure future health and well-being. Keep your dog free from tangles often. Bathe them on a regular basis. Perform the other dog grooming tasks to keep your dog healthy and beautiful as often as you need. All of this will help you enjoy your dog and keep him by your side for many years to come.

Basic Dog Grooming Supplies You Will Need

Most dogs have the same dog grooming needs. Some basic dog grooming supplies are:

Dog Brush or Comb

Just like humans, dogs have different types of hair. Some are long and silky and prone to matting and some have stiff, short hair. There are many types of brushes and combs to fit your dog’s hair type, including bristle brushes and wire pin brushes.

You do need a good-quality comb or brush. A cheap one just won’t do the job. Metal is good for a dog with a long coat and rubber for a dog with short hair.

My dog is a cross between a Patterdale terrier and a Bedlington terrier.

Therefore her coat is a real mixture of long, short, coarse, fine, straight, and curly hair!

Poppy in dire need of a haircut!

I therefore need a brush that can handle pretty much everything. This is my brush of choice as it handles pretty much everything.

Dog Shampoo

The shampoo you choose for your dog should be effective for the type of hair he has and the sensitivity of his skin. There are oatmeal shampoos for sensitive skin, medicated ones for certain skin or coat issues and tear-free ones that won’t burn your dog’s eyes.

The one I use is a pretty standard, general use dog shampoo.

Read more about how to bathe your dog at home.

Dog Clippers

Clippers aren’t needed for every dog. Short-hair dogs such as Chihuahuas won’t need to be clipped or shaved, but dogs with hair that grows long and continuous such as Shih Tzus, should be clipped on a regular basis to prevent tangles and matting.

I never thought I would be confident enough to use dog clippers but I have done it quite a few times now. And the great thing is that Poppy doesn’t really care what she looks like!

Poppy with Long Hair
Poppy with Short Hair

I know – she looks like a totally different dog!

Dog Scissors

You also need a few pairs of dog grooming scissors. I have a long pair, a feathering pair, a small pair, and a pair with rounded ends so you don’t stab your dog.

The easiest thing to do is to buy a set that contains a few pairs, and decide which ones you will really use. Or the really easy way is to buy a kit.

Dog Nail Trimmers

Various types of nail trimmers can make trimming your dog’s nails easier and less traumatic. Choose from scissor trimmers for dogs with tiny nails or claw-style trimmers that are spring-loaded. Be sure you know the techniques for trimming a dog’s nail before attempting the process.

One of the best things you can buy for trimming your dogs nails, is a rechargeable pet nail grinder. This model has great reviews so please, check it out.

I don’t trim my dogs nails and she gets a lot of exercise so wears them down herself.

Groom Your Dog’s Ears

Don’t neglect your dog’s ears when grooming. You’ll need ear cleaners (never use peroxide), cotton balls and possible ear medications prescribed by your veterinarian.

The above list of dog grooming supplies will meet most of your dog’s grooming needs and will make the grooming process easier for you. Look in any dog supply catalog or browse through the aisles of a pet supply store and you’ll see a host of other items devoted to keeping your dog looking great.

Dog Grooming Should be Safe and Enjoyable

The grooming process will usually strengthen the bond between a dog and his master, so it’s important to choose dog grooming supplies that will help your dog relax and enjoy the time with you.

You should ask your veterinarian if your particular type and breed of dog has special needs that would require you to purchase other types of dog grooming supplies.

Online websites contain instructions on how to groom dogs and also suggest other supplies that you might need to make the grooming session a time of fun and pleasure for both you and your dog.

Start Your Dog Grooming By Washing Your Dog

Making sure your dog gets a good bath can be a daunting experience, especially if the dog happens to weigh almost as much as you do and has a real aversion to baths. But, dog washing doesn’t have to be harrowing and there are many ways to make it almost pleasant, both for the dog and you.

Before Your Dog’s Bath

Dog washing alternatives have popped up all over, giving owners a choice about whether to take their pooches to an expensive groomer for their grooming needs or use a safe and affordable doggie “laundry-mat.” These one-stop, self-serve dog washing areas are equipped with easy-to-use equipment and most even supply shampoo.

Washing your dog can be just as intimidating for your dog as it is to you. But, once the dog begins to smell or he has tangles and mats, it’s time to bite the bullet. Be sure to brush your dog’s coat before you dunk him into the water.

Brushing helps to remove hair, grass, twigs and mats that might have collected on your dog and makes the dog washing go much smoother. If you don’t perform this pre-washing maintenance, matting might occur when the dog gets wet.

Keep Your Dog & The Water in The Bath

If brushing doesn’t resolve problem areas, you may need to use clippers to remove it. Then, after all that is done and you’ve assembled all the supplies you need, finding the dog is the next step. Pooches have a way of knowing when they’re about to be washed and may become adept at hiding.

Some doggies may be especially difficult to hold on to when you place them in the bath. That’s when a partner comes in handy to hold the towel, pass the shampoo or to keep the dog tethered. A sprayer is nice to have so you can be sure you’re getting the entire soap residue off the dog. If you don’t, the dog may develop itching or dry skin problems.

I have heard great things about lick mats for keeping dogs entertained.

I bought one for Poppy, not for bath time but for general fun but she’s not really interested.

Drying Your Dog

After you have washed your dog, get ready for the big ‘shake.’ Your dog’s natural instinct is to shake the water off. Vigorously. So you might want to close the shower door and let him before you begin to towel dry him.

Dogs love this part after the bath. Where you wrap him in the towel and rub him all over. Some dogs don’t mind hair dryers to hurry the process along. But others will react badly to having a noisy machine near them.

I don’t actually have a dog hairdryer myself, but now I have seen this one I obviously need it.

Some dogs need baths more than others. Depending on how often they are out. Or how much mud they like to play in. In my case, that is ‘often’ and ‘a lot’!

You and your dog will definitely enjoy the aftermath of a good dog washing – a clean, well groomed dog is a happy dog.

22 thoughts on “Dog Grooming for Beginners – How to Groom a Dog”

    • I know what you mean – I was like that before I had Poppy. While I certainly don’t regret getting her at all, they can be a bit constraining to your lifestyle. Luckily, I don’t have a life! They are absolutely great company and a good reason to get your daily exercise. I really do recommend having a dog but you absolutely have to have the right dog. You really need to look at their basic temperament and needs and make sure you can fulfil them before you get a dog. So many great dogs get put up for adoption as their owners didn’t really know they would need so much exercise, or would grow so big. Really sad. But there is a breed of dog to suit everyone so you just need to find the right one. Good luck!

    • Thank you very much – we certainly think so. Though she’s crazy as a loon too! In a good way as she keeps us entertained.

  1. This is a great article! Thank you for sharing it.

    I’m going to look into buying my German Shepherd a detangling, dematting brush like the one you use for your own dog. I’ve been wanting something like that for simply ages!

    Thanks also for following my poetry blog.

    • Thanks for commenting. Yes, the brush is great especially for dogs with longer hair or double coats. Works really well.

  2. Great post and looks like others I need to read as well 🙂 Thanks for the follow and I’m here to do the same. My newest pup is a rescue, and I don’t know what breeds he may be. He looks a bit like a pom to me and his fur is a mix too. Some is really baby fine and floaty, then there is other pieces that are like wire. But he’s mostly soft all over. I had my son try to shave him with clippers but there is just so much fur, he hardly made a dent lol. He does mat, especially under his ears. I may need a pro the first time.


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