Your dog, Butch, is a member of your family, and more like a child than a pet. You pride yourself in caring for him and giving him only the best of everything. One of the areas you may need some help in is grooming. Butch doesn't even love getting brushed, let alone bathed and trimmed. You have looked at professional grooming options, but because he is such a big dog, the cost is going to be a small fortune. You want Butch to stay healthy and clean, so what can you do to keep him that way?
One thing you can do is learn how to groom a dog. Doing so will save you money and may even create a bonding experience between you and your pet. While it's true pets all have different needs and personalities, it may be good to discover what it is that Butch doesn’t like about being groomed. It may turn out to be that the lack of regular grooming has caused his skin to become sensitive. Finding the best way to groom your pet can be the best way to rectify any kind of condition. It may also finally help rid him and your house of that dog smell that seems to plague them both.
Grooming can be a daunting prospect, especially if your dog has been uncooperative in the past. Below is a list of eight steps you can take to groom your dog properly, so the animal looks, feels and smells its best.
Groom Your Dog in 8 Steps
1. Find the Appropriate Products
First and foremost, you must have the proper tools if you want to be a successful groomer. These tools should, at the very least, include a good dog shampoo (never use human shampoo), detangling brush and nail clippers. There are shampoos to fit every need. There are many conditions Butch may be afflicted by, and starting off with the correct product to meet his need is the first step to being a successful groomer. Multiple conditions can be aided by shampoo:
- Sensitive skin
- Excessive shedding
- Skin allergies
These are just a few examples of the issues specialty shampoos can help rectify. If your dog doesn’t seem to have any conditions, then finding a good moisturizing shampoo is recommended.
A detangling brush and comb are essential for getting your dog's coat smooth and free of debris, loose hair and nasty tangles. If you have a dog with an undercoat, a comb that can reduce it can help your dog's out-of-control shedding immensely. Reducing the loose hair on your dog can help ease incessant scratching.
Nail clippers should round out your grooming tools. Be aware that trimming your dog's nails is a much riskier prospect than trimming your own. However, as long as you are aware of the best method to safely cut his nails, he will come out of it just fine.
Once you have your tools together, it's time to start the grooming process. To help ease your dog's anxiety, make sure you're in a familiar and comfortable place, such as your bathroom or pool deck. Give your dog plenty of strong and loving rubs to assure it that you will both get through this together.
2. Brush Tangled Spots
Unless your dog has very short hair, it is bound to have tangled or matted spots of hair. Do a thorough inspection by looking for places where the hair appears to be knotted. Using the comb, gently work through the knot. If you need to use a bit of conditioner, there is detangling spray available, much like that for humans. Be gentle and work through the spots one at a time. Stop whenever you seem to hit a tender spot and your dog gets restless or reacts negatively. Resume and do your best to work out any tangles before moving on.
3. Trim Hair (If Your Dog's Breed Requires It)
Some dogs need to be trimmed or clipped to keep their fur from getting tangled and matted. A dog's fur plays a vital role in protecting its skin from the elements and regulating body temperature. If the coat requires trimming, make sure you have a good pair of scissors or clippers on hand to do so. Concentrate on the areas around the chest and belly and the pads of its feet. These are the areas that are more prone to tangling if the hair becomes too long. Be careful with the scissors as you don't want to slip and cut your pet accidentally.
4. Comb or Brush
Now it's time for Butch to get a good brushing. Be warned, depending on the length of your dog's hair and the type of undercoat, this process could be lengthy. You may need to take breaks and make sure you aren't causing damage or injury to your dog's skin. Start at the head and work down the body to the rump. Brush with the hair and not against it. Doing the latter causes hair to rip out and the process to be uncomfortable for the dog. Continue brushing all the way down and around the dog in this same way. If you can't reach a particular area due to the way your dog is sitting (or laying), do the best you can. You don't want to agitate the animal any more than you have to.
5. Bathe with Shampoo
The fun is about to begin! Now that Butch has been detangled, trimmed and brushed, it's time to get those suds going. The bath may be the trickiest part of the grooming process. Butch may either love the water or hate it. The good news is if he likes it, the actual bath will be relatively easy. If he doesn’t, you may be in for some trouble.
If you are using a tub or other basin in bathing your dog, don't fill it up with water if the animal doesn't like it. Use a hose that allows for varying pressures of water and keep the water flow on the one that will impact your pet the least. If your dog is the kind to try and make a run for it, have it secure with a leash or even a harness. You can work your way around whichever works best. You don't want your dog running away just because it needs a bath.
Wet the skin and apply the shampoo. Work it into a full lather, massaging it deep into the skin as you go. As in brushing, start at the top of the head and work your way down and around. When it comes time to rinse, follow the same process except omit the shampoo. Be sure you continue to rub your dog to both reassure it and help get rid of any hair and dirt that's loose.
6. Give Your Dog a Good Drying
Drying your dog can take some time. It may take a few towels depending on its size. Dry your pet vigorously and thoroughly and remove loose hair. If the animal tolerates it, use a blow dryer on low heat.
7. Do Some Light Ear Cleaning
Making sure your dog's ears are clean is essential. This is especially true if you have a floppy or long-eared dog. These dogs are more prone to fungal infections because moisture can get trapped inside. Cleaning a dog's ears should be done with the use of an ear wash. The ear wash should be placed in the ear according to directions, rubbed in and left alone. Use a cloth or piece of cotton around the edge of the ear to dry any excess liquid. Never insert a swab or piece of cotton in the ear. It can cause damage.
8. Clip the Toenails
Your dog's toenails contain blood vessels that can bleed and cause severe injury if cut improperly. Therefore, knowing where to cut the dog's nails is vital in achieving a successful nail trim. The tip and the lower part are considered the dead portion. You do not want to cut above this area. There is a natural horizontal line on the nail that helps guide you.
Hold the paw firmly and reassure your pet. If you are new to cutting the nails, start doing so at a slight angle. It's better to start by cutting less until you and your dog are comfortable with the process. The more often you trim the nails, the more confident both you and your dog will be the next time. If you aren't comfortable with this step, groom your dog and then go to a pro to finish off the nails.
Whether you're new to grooming your dog or want to be able to be more effective, following these eight easy steps will ensure you and your dog have a good experience. The more often you and your dog repeat this together, the easier it will get. Knowing how to groom your dog will not only save you time and money but also help your pet remain healthy and beautifully quaffed for years to come.