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We treat our furry friends like family, and getting them regularly groomed is part of the process. Getting your dog professionally groomed can add up over time though, and that's why many people choose to try grooming at home. Sure, grooming them at home can be quick and inexpensive; however, that's only if you know the do's and don’ts of dog grooming. While it might take some time to learn how to effectively groom your dog, the benefits are definitely worth it.
Do brush your dog.
The importance of brushing your dog cannot be understated, especially if they have long hair. When your dog goes without being brushed, their hair starts to mat. It’s essentially like dreadlocks in a dog’s hair, and they are extremely hard to remove. They also cause your dog pain when you are tearing away at them with a brush or they are trying to clean themselves.
This can all be avoided if you just remember to brush your dog frequently. If they have an undercoat, make sure to brush that as well. Finding a good brush that is meant for dog hair will keep the fur contained to the brush, and help to keep their coat silky and smooth.
Do trim their nails.
A main step in dog grooming is keeping your dog’s nails trimmed. While their nails will wear down naturally from running around, it can hurt their paws if they are left too long. It’s important to cut them down and keep them an appropriate length to avoid this discomfort at all costs.
Dogs have very sensitive nails, and blood goes through their nails, too. If you cut the nail too short, your dog will bleed from the nail for a bit. This can be scary for both you and your dog, but it does occasionally happen. It can be stopped quickly with a little bit or cornstarch or with a towel. Just remember to be aware of it, and start trimming their nails little by little to prevent it from happening.
Do thoroughly rinse them.
When you bathe your dog, you need to use a shampoo that is meant for their skin. This is one of the more critical things to remember for do's and don’ts of dog grooming! Human shampoo should never be used on dogs because it can irritate their skin until they are red, itchy, and dry. Look for nourishing shampoos that will help keep the moisture in, and their hair fresh smelling.
It’s important to thoroughly rinse them during a bath because any shampoo left on their coat can irritate them. Even when the shampoo is made for dogs, it’s often too irritating to them after a few minutes. Different shampoos are formulated for different breeds, so always check to see what shampoo will work best with the breed of dog that you have.
Do a health check each time.
You should check your dog for any red flags every time you bathe them. While new skin tags and moles aren’t usually a cause for concern, any lumps or open sores that you find while bathing them should be checked by a veterinarian. It’s not always possible to find these health problems on a daily basis, but when you are washing your dog’s coat, it’s much easier to see and feel their skin throughout the process.
Do start grooming your dog while they are young.
Some dogs hate baths and will never get over it. However, this problem can usually be avoided fairly well if you start getting your dog groomed while they are young. When they are young, they will easily learn what they should and should not do while being groomed. It makes it easier on your dog, and it makes it easier on you in the future!
Don’t get water in their ears.
What you do not do is as important as what you do while grooming your dog. When you are bathing them, make sure that you are not getting water in your dog’s ears. Their eyes and ears are very sensitive, and getting shampoo or water in their ear canal or eyes can cause a whole host of problems. The last thing you and your dog want to deal with is getting an eye or ear infection.
Don’t brush them while they’re wet.
You might think that it is best to brush your dog while they are wet, but that is actually the worst possible time to brush them. Brushing a wet coat can actually lead to more knots and tangles than if you would have let it dry naturally. This is definitely true in the dog breeds that have undercoats. Let their fur dry naturally, and then brush through it all to get any tangles or knots out. Just remember, be gentle with them! Or, consider dog grooming hacks that will make your life so much easier, and brush before you bathe them!
Don’t awkwardly hold their limbs.
When dogs are wiggly, it can be hard to keep them still long enough to cut the areas you need to cut. One of the biggest mistakes dog owners make when they are grooming them at home though is when they awkwardly hold the limbs of their dog. This can hurt your dog, and can even cause an injury if done for too long a time. If your dog won’t stay still, it might be best to get them professionally groomed.
Don’t blow the dryer in their face.
You need to dry your dog following a bath, but it should be done with a towel or a warm dryer. Your dog’s face should always be dried with a towel. If you blow the dryer in your dog’s face, they are going to get agitated. It confuses them, and the wind dries out their nose and eyes. This can cause anything from discomfort to a serious infection, so always remember to use a towel instead of a dryer on their face.
Don’t leave them unattended.
This might seem simple, but too many dog owners do this. Your dog is like a child, and should never be left alone with the dog grooming equipment. Grooming your small dog at home is a little different than grooming a large dog, and there's no telling what kind of accidents can happen if they are left alone. They could turn something on and hurt themselves, or even just stepping on nail clippers or scissors could cut the gentle pad of their paws. When you groom your dog, give the task your full attention.
Don’t do it too infrequently.
Don’t forget to groom your dog with some regularity. When you are doing it at home rather than with a professional, it can be hard to remember when the last time you did it was. It’s important to keep up with their grooming on a regular basis, so set a calendar reminder in your phone every 4-6 weeks. While they should be bathed more frequently than that, 4-6 weeks is a good time period for getting their nails trimmed and their hair cut.
We all love and care about our furry friends, which is why we want the best for them. Professional grooming can cost a lot of money that we don’t always have, and your dog is always the most comfortable with you anyway. It might be a bit of an adjustment for the two of you, but when you know the do's and don’ts of dog grooming, there’s no doubt the experience will not be a terrible one for either of you.