Taking care of a dog can feel daunting at first. But all your pet really needs from you is love. Reinforced with lots of pats and yummy treats.
If you can remember that, everything else will be easy. Especially with this guide to dog grooming for beginners!
Below you’ll find everything that goes into grooming your pet and all the tips and tricks you need to accomplish your task.
Why is Grooming Important?
Cleanliness is definitely a big part of what makes grooming necessary. But there are lots of other benefits!
Regular groomings are the best way to check in with your dog and make sure they’re healthy. A dog wants to protect you just as much as you do them. And sometimes, that will push them to hide their cuts and bruises from you.
As you brush through their coat, you can inspect their body for anything hiding underneath their hair or fur.
Plus, the touch and care that goes into grooming will reinforce your relationship with your dog. When you use strange tools on them that make weird noises, you’ll have to soothe their worries. And they will learn to trust you while you learn to understand their body language.
Does My Dog Need a Haircut?
The first step in any dog grooming for beginners guide is identifying the major differences in breeds. And whether or not they have fur or hair will change a lot.
Dogs with hair, like poodles and water dogs, have a single-layered coat. Without a cut, it will continue to grow and mat. Which can lead to sores and other injuries.
Luckily this dog grooming for beginners guide will tell you everything you need to know to prevent that!
Dogs with fur are easily identified by the double layer of their coat. The top layer is what gives the dog its color. In comparison, the undercoat creates an air pocket around the skin that regulates body temperature.
Common fur breeds are Huskies, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds.
Fur should never be cut. Instead, these dogs will maintain the same length by shedding their fur throughout the year.
What Does Grooming Entail?
There are lots of different elements that go into the care of your dog. And this article on dog grooming for beginners explains them all.
You should always begin your dog’s grooming with a good brush. Especially if you plan to give them a bath.
Once wet, the hair will stick together, and the dirt will clump and glue to the strands. When you dry brush them, the dirt comes loose easily. A simple rub of your hand afterward will have it fall to the floor.
The brush you use will also make a big difference here.
For dogs with short coats that frequently shed, like terriers and pugs, a bristle brush removes all that loose fur. Whereas long-haired dogs need a rake designed to penetrate through the layers of hair to detangle mats and bring loose any dry skin.
Then there are slicker brushes with fine, short wires that are great for dogs with medium-length and curly hair.
Lastly, a general dog grooming for beginners essential is a flea comb. Hopefully, you won’t have to use it. But it’s something that you should always have, just in case.
Once the initial brush is done, the next step in this guide to dog grooming for beginners is a bath.
Each bath should include two proper scrub-downs with dog shampoo. The first lather will bind all the dirt you missed while brushing and removing it. While the second lather will treat the newly cleaned skin.
After all the shampoo has been fully washed out, massage a dog conditioner into the coat to help soften it and protect its natural oils.
When choosing your product, look for something that includes oatmeal or aloe. The oatmeal is good for your dog’s coat and will make it much shinier. And the aloe is fantastic on their skin.
There are also shampoos and conditioners that you can buy to treat specific problems. If your pet suffers from dry skin or seems to be having some allergic reaction to their skin, try this shampoo.
If you plan on giving your dog a haircut, this dog grooming for beginner’s guide recommends another brush down after they’ve dried off.
The scrubbing process in the shower will have created more tangles. For an even trim, you’ll want to remove them. This final brush will also smooth the hair and make it much easier to cut.
The best method for a nice fluffy coat is to brush them while you blow dry them. But some dogs don’t love the sound of the dryer. And others just love the feel of a nice rub down from a towel.
Unless you’ve attended a training session with a professional, it’s not recommended that you attempt cutting them yourself. Dogs will not hold steady for long, and any sharp objects around them can be dangerous.
If you are ready to try it for yourself, here are some tips and tricks on dog grooming for beginners!
Without the ceiling-mounted harness that professionals use, the next best solution is a lick mat. Attached to the wall of your bath or shower, it will completely occupy your dog’s mind while you get to business.
When buying your electric shaver, make sure it comes with multiple protective dog attachments. It will take time to find the right length, so it’s always better to have options.
There are some areas where scissors are easier to use. A dog’s face, paws, legs, ears, hygienic areas, and tail need something that offers a bit more dexterity.
Nails are one of the hardest parts of dog grooming for beginners. And training is even more important for it.
Inside every dog’s nail is something called a quick. It’s a soft piece of tissue that contains the nerves and blood vessels that run through your dog’s nails. If cut, it is very painful, and the wound will bleed.
Dogs that are born with light-colored nails have visible quicks. All you need to do is find the pink region in the center of the nail and cut a few millimeters before it begins with your dog nail clippers.
If your dog has black nails, shining a light into the nail can sometimes show you the quick. And a groove on the underside of the nail can also be a good indicator of where the quick is. But the best procedure is to cut little bits off at a time.
This dog grooming for beginners guide breaks down ear cleaning into two parts.
First is a simple wipe of the ear with a warm, damp towel. This will help maintain your pet’s cleanliness and is a good way to ensure you’re constantly checking for infections.
The second part requires a specific ear-cleaning solution for dogs. And is best done before the bathing step of the grooming process.
To apply, fill your dog’s ear canal with the solution and rub gentle circles at the base of their ear for 30 seconds. Once you hear a soft squishing sound, let your dog shake their head to get rid of the solution and everything it has dislodged.
Then gently wipe out the ear canal with a cotton ball or gauze. Making sure never to go deeper than your first knuckle.
Every dog grooming for beginners guide will tell you the importance of brushing your dog’s teeth. Since their teeth can deteriorate just as quickly as ours.
Trim the most important areas every week to make your dog’s haircut last as long as possible. When the face, ears, hygienic areas, and paw pads are kept short, the longer hair on the body and legs won’t matter as much.
How Often is Grooming Needed?
Below, this dog grooming for beginner’s guide breaks down the timelines for each part of the grooming process.
Brushing is easier the more often you do it. No matter the length of your dog’s hair or breed, brushing your dog every three days is best. That way, it won’t take longer than a few minutes.
If they have fur, the spring and fall usually cause them to shed even more. Changing your routine to include a daily brush with a de-shedding tool for a few weeks is worth it.
A bath isn’t needed as frequently as brushing. In fact, bathing too often can get rid of the natural oils that protect their skin.
Unless your dog has gotten into mud or something else that requires a bath, medium to long-haired dogs should be bathed every four to six weeks, and short-haired dogs every one to three months.
The frequency of your haircuts depends on how short you tend to cut your dog’s hair.
For a coat that is kept around an inch long, you’ll only need to cut it every two to three months. Hair kept longer than that will need cuts every four to six weeks.
A dog’s nails need to be clipped at least once every four weeks.
When they get too long, they are easily caught on things, which can lead to painful ripping of your dog’s paws.
An easy dog grooming for beginners tip is to wipe your dog’s ears weekly. That way, the more thorough inner-ear cleaning can be done once a month.
Like humans, a dog’s teeth should be brushed twice daily. And a professional cleaning should be scheduled every year.
If you can only manage to do it three times a week, you should schedule a professional cleaning once every six months.
Things That Should Be Done By Professionals
No matter how intensive this dog grooming for beginners guide is, there will always be things better left to the professionals.
When removing ticks, getting the head buried under the skin is very hard. There are special tools that you can buy to remove them, but it’s still challenging.
If left under the skin, the risk of Lyme disease is much greater. And there are other bacteria that ticks tend to carry on their head that you don’t want to be trapped under the skin.
On either side of your dog’s anus, there are anal glands that can be impacted by a pressure build-up. This is not a dog grooming for beginners type of job.
But it will feel very uncomfortable for your pet. They will start to scooch their butt on the floor. Or lick and scratch at their butt more than usual.
If you see these signs, take your dog to the vet, where they can treat them properly.
What Not To Do
Here are dog grooming for beginners tips to keep your dog safe and healthy!
Use the Wrong Products
Human products can be extremely harmful to dogs and pets in general. Most human toothpastes contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. And human bathing products use harsher shops that are bad for their skin.
So always use dog-specific products!
Ignore Your Dog’s Temperature
Extreme changes to your dog’s temperature can cause its body to shock. Make sure that the water you use while bathing is a nice warm 98º to 104º Fahrenheit.
Even in the summer, no good dog grooming for beginners guide will recommend you cut your dog’s coat shorter than an inch. Their skin can get sunburned, and they need their hair to protect them.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I calm my dog down?
The best way to ensure your dog is calm during grooming is to start them off young and let them inspect your tools before using them. Once your dog is familiar with every aspect of the process, they may even come to anticipate it.
Where is the best place to groom my dog?
A standing shower will give you more room to move around your dog and get into those hard-to-reach places. But a bath will do a better job of keeping your dog in place.
When it’s warm in the summer, you can groom your dog outside. But you’ll want to keep them on a leash and maybe even put up a pen or fence.
Wrapping Up Dog Grooming for Beginners
Every first-time pet owner needs a little help. And this dog grooming for beginner’s guide gives you everything you need to keep your dog clean and healthy!