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Tips for Grooming Your Dog

Dog Grooming Tips for Pet Parents

As a pet parent, you may want your dog to stay fresh and clean but they have other plans. Once you take them on a walk or they eye a good spot to roll around in, they’re on their way back to smelling like the outdoors, making you schedule their next bath!

But bathing isn’t only for stinky situations. Regular grooming is an important part of your dog’s health. And not just for breeds that have long, flowing coats. Short haired—and even hairless—breeds need constant upkeep to look and feel their best.

All dogs need regular baths, teeth brushing, nail clipping, coat brushing and external ear cleaning. Long-haired breeds, such as Yorkies and Poodles, may need more frequent haircuts or brushing (if their pet parent prefers the longer coat), conditioning, and hair trimming by their eyes and feet. Some dogs may even require regular gland expressions. If you’re still getting a handle on maintaining your canine, our dog grooming tips will help you get started.

Here are a Few Basics for a Good Grooming Experience:

1. Start early

Grooming should start early, especially for long-haired breeds. After all, the sooner your dog learns to tolerate a bath and/or haircut, the better! For puppies, wait to visit a groomer until two weeks after completing their required vaccinations and flea and tick treatment.

While there isn’t a set age that qualifies a puppy as “bath-ready,” be sure to check with your veterinarian before lathering up your pup.

2. Make your dog comfortable

Consider training exercises to help your puppy (or dog) get comfortable with grooming. This includes lifting your dog’s lips to look at their teeth, running your hands over their body, legs, tummy and tail, and picking up one paw at a time.

Next, review proper techniques on everything from pre-bath brushing to drying your dog’s coat before giving your dog a bath. Make training a positive experience by keeping exercises short and coming prepared with plenty of treats!

3. Start a routine for dog grooming at home

Grooming your dog should be part of your regular routine. Start with brushing your pet—regardless of their coat length—at least once a week. This helps to distribute natural oils onto your dog’s skin and coat, keeping both hydrated. Another area that needs brushing is their teeth. If possible, try to incorporate this daily.

When it comes to baths, bathe your dog no more than once a month. Bathing too often can strip their coat of its protective oils, which can lead to a smellier canine. Use a dog-specific shampoo and conditioner that matches your dog’s skin and coat needs.

4. Make nail and ear care a part of dog grooming at home

When trimming your dog’s nails, be careful to avoid the quick—a blood-filled vein running down the center of each nail. Cutting this can be painful for your dog and can result in bleeding. If you cut the quick by mistake, don’t panic. Dab styptic powder on the end of the nail and apply gentle pressure until the bleeding stops.

If you’re not sure what to use to clean your dog's ears, start with a cotton ball and a dog-friendly ear cleaning solution. Take the dampened cotton ball and wipe around the perimeter of the ear. Never use a cotton swab or stick anything into the ear canal as you risk injuring your pet. Always dry your dog’s ears after a bath to avoid irritation and infection.

5. Consult a professional groomer or veterinarian as needed

Professional grooming should take place every four to six weeks. If your dog doesn’t require a professional stylist, be sure to trim their nails and clean their ears on a regular basis. But first, make sure you’re trained on the task at hand—ask your groomer how to trim your dog's nails or ask a veterinarian to demonstrate.

Consulting a professional is also a good idea if you don’t know which products or brands to use. Your dog’s veterinarian, stylist, or a pet store associate can offer recommendations specific to your canine.

6. Know what to expect from a professional groomer

If you opt to go the professional route, know what your pet’s service includes. Often times you can schedule a consultation or conduct research beforehand. A basic full-service groom should include the following:

  • Pre-bath brushing
  • Pre-bath trim to remove excess hair if needed
  • External ear cleaning
  • Nail trim
  • Gland check
  • Bath
  • Fluff dry
  • Haircut (breed standard or your choice)
  • Brush out
  • And, sometimes, a bow (or bandana) and fragrance

Packages vary and it is best to speak with a pet stylist to determine the right package to meet your pet’s individual needs. If this is your dog's first groom at a salon, make sure to ask the stylist any questions you may have.

Now that you have our dog grooming tips, you’re ready to create a plan for your pet! When doing so, remember to consider your pet’s breed. Certain breeds require more grooming than others, making it important to know your canine’s maintenance requirements. If you need a professional’s recommendation for known health conditions, consult a local veterinarian for further guidance.