How To Groom Your Dog At Home (Step by Step Guide)

Alice Nguyen | 23 February, 2023

            How To Groom Your Dog At Home (Step by Step Guide)

I can’t see your eyes, Buddy.

Is your dog’s hair covering his entire face already? Are his nails long enough to scratch you or entangle with holes and railings? We’re sure you know it’s time for some grooming but it seems like the nearest pet grooming centre is miles away, and you’re too busy to drive that distance. Sigh.

Does that mean Buddy has to endure all the stink and unruly hairs and nails? Of course not! Like many things, pet grooming at home is also possible with the right knowledge and preparations.

Read on and see what you’ll need to know before you groom dogs at home and turn it into something more fun fur you and your fur babies! 

Importance of regular dog grooming

We all know that grooming is important for dogs to maintain good hygiene, like how we regularly wash and often have haircuts. 

Specifically, grooming helps keep your dog’s coat free from parasites and dirt. But apart from that, here are other things you could benefit from regularly grooming your pooch.

1. Promotes good health

With good hygiene comes good health. After all, most dog diseases are brought about or worsened by poor sanitary conditions. Hence, dogs not regularly groomed or cleaned are more vulnerable to canine distemper, parvovirus, and other canine diseases since the viruses and bacteria causing these usually thrive in poorly maintained places. The same goes for parasites.

Moreover, grooming allows you to easily detect symptoms (e.g. bumps, lumps, and rashes) of your dog’s underlying diseases. With this, you can immediately visit vet clinics for a diagnosis. 

2. Keeps your dog safe 

Besides good health, regular grooming also prevents the matting and tangling in your dog’s beautiful coat, which can be painful and unsafe, especially for dogs who like to move around. 

3. Reduces shedding

Although shedding is natural for dogs, the heap of hair you must collect after weeks or months without brushing their coat would be overwhelming. Hence, it’s best that you get to brush these away before they pile up on your carpet or furniture.   

4. Creates core memories with your dog

Have seen how Buddy’s instinctively clinging on to you while you’re brushing his coat or what your fur baby’s first bath was like? 

These small moments often have lasting impressions on us and our dogs. Since our furry friends have a relatively shorter lifespan than us, we get the pleasure of witnessing their growth from a puppy no bigger than a bottle up to the snuggly giant they are now.  

5. Brings out the best in your dog

Lastly, regular grooming helps dogs achieve their best version. Without tangled coats, long nails, and foul smell, plus some trendy dog bandanas and bow ties, your dog would surely get heads turning during a walk.

How to ease my dog before a groom

Whether in centres or at home, grooming can be stressful for dogs. And if you don't try to ease them, grooming becomes even more challenging—paws will surely fly around. Thus, here are some tips on how to make your dog feel comfortable before grooming. 

1. Take a walk

What do I do with this pent-up energy?

Dogs, especially active ones, are often curious about anything and don’t know what to do with the energy in their system. Consequently, they become more unruly during grooming. Hence, allot some time to exercise your dog before starting the fun.

2. Get them acquainted with the tools

Most dogs get scared when you introduce something new to their daily experience. Thus, make sure to have them familiarise the tools you’ll be using. Assure them that it’s safe.

3. Use positive reinforcement


Like us, dogs become more eager to participate in something that has yummy rewards by the end. Make grooming at home a positive experience for your furry friend!

4. Be calm!

Lastly and most importantly, you have to be calm, as your composure also influences the way your dog perceives the activity.

What you should not do before grooming your dog

Besides your to-do list, you must also remember these not-to-do’s before you groom a dog at home.

  1. Do not use shampoo, conditioners, and toothpaste meant for humans. These contain substances toxic to dogs (e.g. xylitol)
  2. Assess if your dog got wounds of any kind, and make sure to contact your veterinarian about it before grooming.
  3. Do not shave their hair or cut their nails when you’re not confident enough and haven’t been taught how to do it properly, for a mishap may cause extreme pain to your dog.
  4. Never bathe your dogs in cold temperatures, as this might cause their body temperature to drop dangerously.
  5. Do not attempt to perform very delicate procedures like expressing your dog’s anal sacs if you’re not trained to do it.

Steps to groom your dog at home 

Here’s the part you’re most excited about! 

Now that you’ve learned the importance and necessary precautions of dog grooming at home, it’s time to explore the step-by-step guide on how to do it.

1. Secure essential and proper tools

Ensure to only prepare grooming tools meant for dogs and approved by veterinarians to avoid complications. These include dog shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, wipes, towels, comb, and nail clippers. You may also opt to add blowers and coat sprays.

2. Check your dog’s coat for ticks and fleas

Routinely check your dog’s coat for ticks and fleas, especially during tick season, before grooming. If you have findings, consult your veterinarian about the safest way to remove the ticks.  

3. Inspect the paw pads

Paw pads are often forgotten during grooming or even in daily inspections. As a result,  paw pads become dirty and dry. Some hair may have also grown between your dog’s toes, which can cause pain on your dog due to matting.  

4. Use a damp towel to wipe away the dirt on your dog’s coat

After inspections, you may start wiping your dog’s coat to remove primary dirt and dust stuck on their fur. 

5. Brush Brush Brush

To further clean your dog’s coat and untangle mats, start brushing the coat thoroughly before bathing. 

6. Bathe your dog

Bathe your dog with water and shampoo meant for dogs. You may also use a conditioner after, making your dog’s hair smoother. After bathing, dry your dog using a towel and a blow dryer.

7. Clean your dog’s ear

Since you can’t let any water inside your dog’s ear. You have to clean it separately using cotton balls and a dog-specific solution.

8. Brush your dog’s teeth

Ideally, you should brush your dog's teeth twice a day. But if you're too busy, three times a week would already make a difference. Remember to only use a dog-specific toothpaste.

9. Trim the nails and hair

Make sure to seek your veterinarian's advice before you attempt to trim your dog's hair and nails, do it carefully, and avoid sensitive areas.

10. Brush Brush Brush (again)

Lastly, brush your dog again to remove trimmed hair and voila! Your dog's ready to get heads turning!

If your dog is proving difficult to groom or you feel overwhelmed with the process, we recommend exploring online dog grooming courses. Most online courses are great and extremely detailed. 

Take your time in the learning and practice process. We’re confident that through patience and practice, you’ll be grooming your dog effecting in no time!

Is it better to cut my dog's hair wet or dry?

While there are cases wherein wetting your dog’s hair is necessary, like having to deal with severe matting, it’s generally preferred to cut a dog’s hair dry. Cutting it wet often results in uneven cuts as their hair would appear longer when wet and skin irritations since hairs are more likely to stick to a dog’s skin in wet conditions.

How long does it take to groom my dog at home?

It depends mainly on your dog’s breed, coat type, and the amount of grooming you want to accomplish. If you only wish to trim your dogs’ nails and brush their coat, it would usually just take about 30 minutes. But if you intend to groom your dog at home fully, then it might take a few hours, and even more if your fur baby is anxious about the process. 

When you’re still learning to groom a dog at home, remember to take your time, as rushing things may only harm your pooch.

How long can my dog typically go without grooming?

Dog breeds with longer hair would require more frequent grooming than their short-haired counterpart. But apart from breed and coat type, your dog’s lifestyle also plays a part in determining the frequency. Dogs spending most of their time outside to play and explore would require frequent grooming.

Generally, grooming every 4-8 weeks is beneficial for most dogs. An interval of 2-4 weeks is best for long-haired and active dogs, while dogs requiring less frequent grooming would be fine with every 6-12 weeks.

Remember, our dogs have unique needs. All these may serve as your general guideline, but it would still be best to consult with grooming experts and veterinarians.

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