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Dog Grooming Tips

7 Tips For At Home Dog Grooming

Caring and grooming your dog can be overwhelming. This is especially true if you have a pup that gets easily worried…. or maybe a serious “shedder”, like a Siberian Husky (first-hand experience here!). 

Every dog has different grooming needs. My Husky, Halo, needs a good brush that gets right into her undercoat, along with a special shampoo to keep her coat healthy and shiny. Also, as with any dog, positive reinforcement with lots of treats plays a big role in keeping the experience comfortable… and even fun!

Almost all dogs will need to be bathed, brushed, and have their nails trimmed. So here are my top 7 tips for keeping your pooch happy, healthy, and well-groomed! 

1. Treats, treats, and MORE treats!

Like I mentioned above, grooming should be a fun (as much as possible!) time for you and your pet. It’s a pawsome time to strengthen the connection with your dog, especially if your dog is just coming into your home. By infusing a little fun and using treats before, during, and after grooming, you will help your pet see that being spiffed up CAN be enjoyable! 

When you’re starting out, focus on just one task at a time to keep grooming sessions short. Stay calm and relaxed, give lots of positive reinforcement, and keep your dog safe.

My previous dog, Kota, was very fearful and not too comfortable in new situations. Nail trimmings were a challenge, and I always headed for the “high value” stuff for her – leftovers, such as steak tips, were perfect! The process was: Clip. Treat. Clip. Treat. Clip. Treat.

Our new pup, Halo, is a little bit braver and much less fearful. Any type of treat works with her, and a favorite of hers is the Dr Becker’s Beef Bites from Ciao Bow wow in North Andover, MA.

Dr. Beckers Bites Ciao bowwow 1

2. Know your dog’s coat type

Did you know not all dogs should have their hair or fur cut? It’s true. Huskies, German Shepherds, and Malamutes have coats that don’t need to be cut as regular dog grooming maintenance. 

Double coated dogs, like Huskies, tend to need way more brushing. No matter the breed of dog, you’ll want to stay on top of brushing, especially during the shedding season…. which is right now!

Don’t hesitate to reach out to a groomer if you have questions about your dog’s coat. Drop me a message, too – I’m happy to advise!

Siberian Husky Golden Hour
Siberian Husky with a thick undercoat

3. Get the vital tools you need

Think of everything you personally use for basic hygiene and grooming. I use a good brush, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, nail clippers, and tweezers to name a few.

You will need hygiene products and dog-friendly tools like pet shampoo, nail clippers, and toothbrush, and toothpaste, to name a few. One special treat I do for my dog, Halo, is a bit of “massage”. She loves her ears rubbed, along with her hip area massage. She relaxes and falls asleep. The head starts to bob and the eyes close. Halo loves attention and touch.

Remember, keep it simple and fun! No need to stress yourself and Bruno out with things like nail clipping and more advanced stuff like shearing and cutting.  Might be best to leave that to the pros. 

If you are local to Georgetown, MA, Katie with Pet Care by Katie will come to your house for a nail clipping. She’s a vet tech and is wonderful with the dogs! As Kota aged and I was less comfortable clipping her nails, Katie was a great option to have.

Grooming Supplies
Grooming Tools

4. Brush your dog regularly

Even if you aren’t bathing Princess, it’s important to keep their fur or hair maintained.

Last week I had Halo at the vet for her first check up. I had a list of questions and concerns for the vet. I know she needed a good brush out, but that was the least of my worries. After addressing my concerns, the vet said to me:

“You ARE going to brush her?”

I had to laugh. Of course I’m going to brush her! This isn’t my first rodeo with an excessive shedder haha!

Huskies get those little clumps of fur and I get obsessed with “plucking”. You know what I’m talking about!

Brushing regularly has many benefits such as removing dirt, preventing matting, keeping the coat and skin healthy. Brushing can make less work for you, too. You’ll spend less time vacuuming and swiffering.

Well, maybe. I lied. You might actually give up on vacuuming with a husky. Or at least you will remove all black clothing from your wardrobe.

And if you have friends or family over and they miss the memo on NOT wearing black? Keep a lint roller by the doorway…. or better yet, keep them all over the house for your guests to use when needed – they will thank you for it!

My brush of choice? The “Furminator” for long coated dogs. It really gets into that undercoat.

5. Use dog friendly shampoo

Your pet’s skin has a different pH than yours. That’s why it’s critical to use dog-safe products only, including shampoo, conditioner and any other product. Dog skin can become irritated if you use human shampoo.

There are plenty of dog-approved products on the market. Talk to your vet or trustworthy pet boutique owner for suggestions, especially if you need to deal with anything like fleas, itchiness, or skin allergies.

When Halo and I did our first visit to see my friend Judy who owns Just Dogs! in Newburyport, Judy recommended PURE and Natural Pet 3-in-1 Shed Control Shampoo and Conditioner for Halo. It works great AND I love the sweet orange and coconut scent.

Shed Control Dog Shampoo
Shed Control Dog Shampoo

6. Make bath time fun

Safety needs to be a priority. Whatever you can do to make it safer in the bathroom, do it. I add a non slip mat to the tub.

Other things you can try are a special hose or sprayer, food spread on the tiles like peanut butter, and wearing your pup out with exercise beforehand. 

7. Trim nails regularly

The stroll around the neighborhood on pavement is almost always not enough to keep your dog’s nails at a good length. Dogs whose nails are too long can have a lot of problems like difficulty walking on wood floors, limping, a change in their gait, and even excessive paw licking. 

If your pooch’s nails are clicking on hard surfaces, it’s time for a nail trim. Clicker training is great to get your pup’s paws used to the clippers.

Show the clippers. Click and treat.

Touch the paw. Click and treat.

Clip a nail. Click and treat.

Take it nice and slow, until they are comfortable.

When to hire a pro…

Not every dog is great with at-home grooming and not every dog parent is great (or has the time) to groom their pet. And that’s ok!

Here are some reasons you’ll want to seek out professional grooming services:

  • Shampooing mud or a skunked dog – ugh! That’s no fun!
  • Removing fleas or ticks
  • If your dog is super-stressed getting their nails trimmed, ears cleaned, etc.
  • Your dog has hair that needs special upkeep 
  • Cleaning anal glands (i have a friend who attempting this one – no thanks!)

Looking for a groomer? My go-to is recommendation is All That Jazz Dog Grooming in Stoneham, MA. Sarah is wonderful at helping anxious and fearful dog’s feel comfortable.

Around the Circle

This week’s post is part of a pet photographer’s blog circle. Follow along by clicking on the link at the end of each post. Next up Toronto dog photographer, Terri Jankelow, shares some tips to help you get ready for your dog photo shoot. Enjoy!!!

3 thoughts on “7 Tips For At Home Dog Grooming”

  1. Oh how I’d love to have a groomer pop by and do my pup’s nails. The older one is fine by now (he’s learned – dremel noise = CHEESE) but the puppy is still fearful. And lol at the glands! When we first moved to Italy my dog was leaving, eh hem…stink fish trails…all over the house. That was a fun one to google translate and try to explain to the vet!

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