Dog Grooming Basics

Keeping your dog clean and well-groomed is about much more than just looking and smelling good. It’s about keeping your dog healthy too.

There’s no question about it: having a dog romping around the house that smells “a bit ripe” is none too pleasant. Keeping your dog clean and well-groomed will pay dividends beyond simple aesthetics. It will also help to keep your dog healthy. Basic grooming involves bathing, brushing, nail trimming, and haircuts.

BATHING YOUR DOG

Just like people, dogs need regular bathing. But unlike people, dogs don’t need frequent bathing. Your dog’s breed and the environment in which it lives and plays will largely determine the optimum frequency of bathing. But once a month is a good rule-of-thumb. Experts recommend that you do not bathe your dog more than once a week.

You can’t use your bath soap on your dog when you give it a bath; use a shampoo that is formulated specifically for dogs. For a head to toe guide on how to give your dog a wash visit here.

BRUSHING YOUR DOG

Most dogs love a good brush. Brushing also helps to prevent skin irritation by removing dead hair from your dog’s coat before it mats. And it gives you control over where hair is shed – in the brush instead of all over your house! For some assistance on what sort of brush to choose for your dog, we have reviewed various styles in an article on grooming tools.

You can brush your dog as frequently as you feel is needed, but the longer your dog’s hair, the more frequently you’ll need to brush. Very longhaired dogs may need it daily, while shorthaired dogs may need it only monthly.

Always brush outward from the skin – never toward the skin from the ends of the hair. And misting your dog’s coat with a grooming spray will help the brush glide smoothly through any snags and mats.

PEDICURE, PLEASE

Unless your pet is a very active outdoor dog, its nails will need to be trimmed on a regular basis – anywhere from once a week to once a month. But nail trimming is an activity that is often feared by both dogs and owners. We have put together some tips on how to trim your dog’s nail safely in another article.

The best way to calm your fears is to ask your vet or a professional groomer to train you in the proper techniques for nail trimming. The best way to calm your dog’s fears is to train it from a very young age to be comfortable with the process. And of course, never cut into the quick of your dog’s nails – that will give it good reason to fear the process.

Don’t use your toenail clippers; use a clipper designed for the purpose. A rotary trimmer can be a safer, though slower alternative to a nail clipper. And if you’re just not comfortable with the process, there’s certainly no shame in having the job done by a qualified professional.

SCISSORS AND CLIPPERS

Many dog owners prefer to leave haircuts to professional groomers. It’s a job that really takes some know-how and experience to do properly – particularly for dogs with long, continuously growing hair.

But there’s no reason – with some effort and experience – that you can’t become an expert at cutting your dog’s hair. Here are a few tips for doing the job properly. For more in-depth information read our article Save Money by Grooming Your Dog at Home:

  • Bathe your dog first using a good quality shampoo that suits your dog’s skin type (link to article on shampoos and conditioners).
  • Towel dry and brush.
  • Use sharp scissors for around the face and feet.
  • Use electric clippers for doing the cutting on the bulk of the dog’s body.
  • Be sure to keep the blades sharp on both the scissors and the electric clippers. Dull blades are dangerous.
  • Choose a quiet, isolated place for trimming your dog’s hair. A startling noise or sudden visitor during the process may cause the dog to jump – dangerous for the both of you when snipping scissors are involved.

For general guidelines about when to trim and how much to trim, consult with your vet or a professional groomer. Much will depend upon the breed of your dog. Not all longhaired breeds, for example, will benefit from having their hair clipped short in the summertime.

YOU’LL BOTH FEEL BETTER

Keeping your dog looking good and smelling good will also help to keep it healthy. You’ll feel better, too, knowing that you’re giving your dog the best of care. You will also end up really enjoying owning a dog. After all, having a sweet-smelling, prettified pooch leap into your lap sure beats having a shaggy, smelly beast in your face!