How to groom a dog: Best grooming techniques and tips

Getting your dog professionally groomed can be a pricey ask. If you don't have the dough, though, there's nothing to worry about – here's how to groom a dog yourself, at home, and keep your perfect pooch looking fresh!

Properly grooming your dog is important to maintain the quality and comfort of its hair.
Properly grooming your dog is important to maintain the quality and comfort of its hair.  © Unsplash/J. Balla Photography

Do you have an extraordinarily fluffy dog, in desperate need of some grooming? Are claws getting too sharp or teeth too dirty?

Don't worry, we're here to help you keep your pooch perfect – and you don't even need to spend much money! Instead, pick up the sheers and get out a comb – it's time to groom your doggo!

TAG24's dog guide will take you through how to groom a dog at home.

Dog has priceless reaction after he's caught going through the trash
Dogs Dog has priceless reaction after he's caught going through the trash

How long does it take to groom a dog, what should you use to groom your dog, and what else is there to know? Let's take a look.

Grooming a dog: The Basics

First, we start with the basics. Dog grooming is more than just giving your beloved four-pawed friend a snazzy haircut, it's also about maintaining its quality of life by keeping things under control. While fur care is, of course, one of the most important aspects of dog grooming, there are a few other things you should know about.

So here's what we won't go into detail on in this guide

  • Dog nail trimming and dealing with the dewclaw: Keeping your dog's nails trimmed short and blunt is extremely important, to make sure that they can walk properly and without pain. On top of that, owners of dogs that develop dewclaws should consider their options.
  • Giving your dog a bath: Make sure that your dog is regularly washed. Unlike cats, dogs aren't particularly good at keeping themselves clean, and also have a nasty habit of getting themselves soaked in water and mud. As a result, it's important to give your dog a bath whenever it needs one.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: Giving your dog the right food is incredibly important, as fur quality and claw care (and, of course, health in general) has a lot to do with diet. Should your dog eat wet or dry food? What about meat?

Our canine companions deserve the best care, and that means proper grooming – here's how to get there.

Important: Good dog grooming includes all of the above. Don't skip any steps that help keep your dog as healthy and cared for as possible.

How long does it take to groom a dog?

Allow plenty of time to properly groom your dog. It's a long process – your dog has a lot of hair to dress – and not one that should be rushed. You want to go slowly, carefully, and kindly, giving your doggo some treats, plenty of pets, and a relaxing atmosphere. It doesn't really understand what's going on, after all, so you need to keep it calm and happy.

You should break up the various grooming routines you have, so that it isn't one long stretch of time. Trim your dog's nails, bathe your dog, and groom its fur all on separate days, allowing time for your dog to relax between sessions. Try to make it fun, and try to make it a bonding experience.

It will generally take about 30 minutes to groom your dog, about 20 minutes to trim its nails, and about 10 minutes to give it a bath. All up, allow at least an hour (preferably two hours) to complete a full dog grooming routine.

Take your time when grooming your darling doggo, and take care to get it right.
Take your time when grooming your darling doggo, and take care to get it right.  © imago/Panthermedia

How to groom a dog at home: Step-by-step

There are many steps to home grooming, and it takes a good long while to get right, but it's worth it if you don't have cash to spare on a professional groomer. Grooming should be a soothing and calm experience, not one that scares or troubles your canine companion.

Here's how to groom a dog at home, step-by-step

Step 1 – Get your dog brushed: To do this, you need to first have bought a proper dog brush (not a human one) from a pet store. Make sure that you brush in long, slow and straight movements, along the grain of the fur and not against it (so head-to-tail not tail-to-head).

  • Pull your hand along after the brush, taking care that the brush isn't pulling too much or uncomfortably on your dog's fur.
  • With that same hand, feel for any bristles, mats, leaves, or other things that shouldn't be in there.
  • Check for dandruff as well – if your dog has bad dandruff, it's off to the vet you go!

Step 2 – Get snippin': The second stage in the dog grooming process is getting its fur cut and shaped. This can only be done once your darling doggo's fur has been fully brushed, with all the knots untangled and the unwanted elements removed. Buy a pair of professional dog fur scissors/sheers, you're going to need them!

  • Cutting a dog's hair can be difficult, and not something that's easy to describe in words.
  • Make sure that you have small scissors with a relatively blunt edge, purchased from a vet or a pet store.
  • Use clippers if you are uncomfortable with the scissors, using the latter to simply trim the edges and shape the fur.
  • Pinch the fur between your two fingers, always cutting on the outside of your fingers and using them as a guide. This helps with shaping but also removes the risk that you will cut your dog, as your fingers are in the way.

Step 3 – Bathing, drying, and cleaning up: Once you have finished trimming, grooming, and shaping your doggo's hair you are going to want to begin the process of finishing up.

  • Give your dog a full bath, washing off all excess fur and making sure that it is super clean and fresh.
  • Allow your dog to dry, either using a specialized doggy hair drier or rubbing it with a towel until it is a bit damp but not dripping, and then letting it fully dry naturally over time.
  • Let your doggo go on a romp around the house while you clean up the inevitable mess created when grooming.
  • Make yourself a coffee, sit back, and relax.

It's a long and complicated process, but grooming your dog can also be a wonderful bonding experience between you and your beloved canine companion. Don't treat it as a chore, but a fun activity between the two of you.

How to groom a dog with clippers

The first thing to note about grooming with clippers is that they make a lot of noise. Dogs have sensitive ears and, seeing as they're not particularly brainy, can potentially get very scared. Before you try to groom your dog with a pair of hair clippers, get them used to the sound and make sure they're not going to be frightened – sudden movements could end up getting them hurt!

Here's how to use clippers when grooming your dog's hair

Step 1: Make sure that you choose the right clippers and attach the right blades. The latter will depend on the state of your dog's fur and how much you want to take off, and the former depends on the products that are available to you. Go to the pet shop and get some advice from an assistant, and whatever you do, don't use human hair clippers!

Step 2: Confirm that your beloved doggo is completely dry, as the clippers won't work properly (and could break) with wet fur.

Step 3: After brushing your dog completely, attach the appropriate blade and put your dog in a firm and comfortable position. You don't want it to move, so it needs to be held securely when you start trimming.

Step 4: Start by clipping your dog's private areas, as they will be the least bored and most calm when you start grooming. You need to be very careful (for obvious reasons) and should make sure to keep this fur very short to avoid things getting messy for your beloved doggo.

Step 5: Now groom the rest of your doggo, adjusting the blade size to change the density and length of each area. Get a feel for how you want your doggo to look, as well as what will be comfortable for it, and get stylin'!

Step 6: It's clean-up time! Comb out the loose hair and (preferably) give your dog a bath to get it totally clean. Allow its fur to dry.

Clippers can be dangerous, so it's best to have a professional show you how to do this the first few times.

How to groom a matted dog

If your dog's fur has become matted and nasty, it might be time to get it groomed professionally.
If your dog's fur has become matted and nasty, it might be time to get it groomed professionally.  © IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

Severely matted fur is incredibly difficult to groom, and can be very painful for your dog if you try to do so unassisted. Grooming a matted dog involves a great deal of washing, a special brushing method with particular tools, and a lot of time. We do not believe it to be something that you should do yourself.

Matted fur is thickly stuck together, clumped up in tough-to-handle lumps that won't be resolved with a simple brush. A lot of the time these clumps will need to be removed, but that needs to be done with care and also with style and comfort in mind. You don't want your dog to look terrible, but you also don't want to hurt your beloved darling doggo.

Our recommendation is to always get your dog professionally groomed if its fur has become matted. On top of that, it's wise to also take your dog to the veterinarian to check out why this matting has occurred in the first place.

Dog grooming is hard, whether they are big or small

While the process of grooming is not so difficult in terms of the simple skills, it's hard to get right. Think about it like hair-dressing: we can all use scissors, but we're not all good at cutting hair. It takes practice, patience, and an understanding that mistakes will be made.

What's important is that your dog is safe throughout the procedure. While mistakes will be made, it is important that those mistakes are aesthetic and don't harm your perfect pooch. Understand that it might end up with a bad haircut, and give grooming a go, but be careful at the same time.

Cover photo: Unsplash/J. Balla Photography

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