How to groom your dog at home

Brushing, Clipping, dog grooming, Lockdown -

How to groom your dog at home

We’re now into our eighth week of lockdown in the UK and some of us are sporting some pretty dodgy home-haircuts as hairdressers and barbers remain closed across the country. But it doesn’t have to be this way for your dog.

All dogs should be groomed regularly in order to remove dead hair, dandruff and dirt and prevent their coat from becoming matted. As summer approaches, dogs with thicker coats need a lot of brushing to help them shed their winter coat and make way for new growth. Some breeds also need a regular trim to help keep them healthy and happy as well as looking good. But how can you do this if you can’t get to a dog groomer?

Escaping bath time - Photo by Matthias Zomer on PexelsEscaping bath time - Photo by Matthias Zomer on Pexels

Brushing your dog

Unfortunately like hairdressers, all dog groomers in the UK are currently closed so it is down to you to give your dog their regular pampering session. Of course some dogs need grooming more than others but every dog should have a regular grooming session at home at least once a week. Brushing your dog stimulates the natural oils in their skin and fur, to make it look healthy and glossy. And a good once over with a brush also gives you the chance to check for any lumps and bumps or signs of fleas and ticks.

Short haired, smooth-coated dogs should be brushed at least once a week. Rough coated or long-haired dogs need more regular brushing and may also often require clipping every 4-12 weeks to maintain their coat at a suitable length.

Some terriers and double-coated dogs like Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes need de-shedding rather than normal brushing to remove dead hairs in their coat when they are moulting as they dogs don’t shed hair in the same way as other breeds.

Double coated dog gets a brush - Photo by Gustavo Fring on PexelsDouble coated dog gets a brush - Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels

Types of brush

Pin Comb: Great for detangling matted fur and knots on dogs with long, thick coats. These long-handled combs have metal pins with rounded ends which make them safe to use and comfortable for your dog.

Slicker brush: Ideal for removing dead fur and undercoat, these brushes move smoothly across the contours of your dog and also massage the skin, which encourages natural oils to be released, making the coat shiny and healthy. Ideal for every day use on all coat types, 

Undercoat rake or de-shedding tool: There are a number of these on the market and it is worth investing in a good quality one if you want decent results. These brushes rake out dead fur or loose undercoat in a way that regular dog brushes don’t. If you have a dog that sheds a lot of fur around the house during moulting season then a good brush with an undercoat rake everyday will significantly reduce the amount of dog hair flying around your home.

Dematting comb: Helps to rake out more serious knots and tangles on dogs with long, thick or wiry coats.

Dog brushes and nail clippers by GravitisDog brushes and nail clippers by Gravitis - Find out more

Nail Clipping 

Most of the time it’s not necessary to clip your dogs claws if they are being walked regularly on pavements or roads. Sometimes their dew claws will grow too long as they don’t touch the ground during exercise but nails are most likely to become overgrown if your dog is arthritic or lame and not bearing on weight on certain paws. If you are concerned about their claws then call you vet to describe the issue and see if they need emergency treatment. If you’re confident that you can clip them at home, use a pair of propose-made dog nail clippers (not scissors) with a built-in safety guard. If your dog is nervous about having their nails clipped you could try rubbing peanut butter on your head to distract them, like the woman in this viral video.

Clipping your dog

The Blue Cross advises against clipping your dog at home if possible and taking them to a professional groomer but as the lockdown continues, leaving your dog with a long shaggy coat in hot weather may become a welfare issue - so if you have some dog clippers or even some pet scissors then you may find that you need to take matters into your own hands.

If you decide to go ahead and clip yourself, don’t rush it. Take plenty of time to research what you are doing – you will find plenty of clipping guides specific to your breed on YouTube and take the time to sit down and watch them a few times and take notes before you go near your dog. Always use a pair of professional dog clippers (rather than a beard trimmer or human hair clippers) with a safety guard and if you’re using scissors, choose purpose-made pet scissors with rounded tips for cutting around sensitive areas.

Wash and dry your dog thoroughly before you begin and make sure their coat is completely dry if you are planning on using clippers. If your dog isn’t used to being clipped at home, you may need an extra pair of hands and some dog treats to calm and reassure them. Don’t rush, stay calm and stop and take a break if you need to. It is better to cut off too little than too much and it doesn’t have to look perfect. You’re aiming to make your dog healthy and comfortable, rather than going for a ‘best in show’ look and clipping or trimming should become easier over time.

A Cute Boston Terrier - Photo by Irina Wildlife Photographer on PexelsA Cute Boston Terrier - Photo by Irina Wildlife Photographer on Pexels

Stay positive

If you leave it too long in between grooming sessions then your dog could create a negative association with your brushes and become uncomfortable with being groomed so it is important to keep going with a regular dog grooming routine once you have started.

If your dog is scared of the brushes or clippers, take a few steps back. Get a couple of brushes out but don’t use them and just let the dog get used to seeing them around and let them have a sniff.

Start with a soft brush and some treats. Keep your initial sessions short and build up to longer sessions over time and give them some treats. Stay positive, don’t rush and make it fun.

Here’s another great video we found of a lady enjoying hanging out with her dogs during lockdown and trying the ‘peanut butter trick’

How have you been grooming your dogs in lockdown? Let us know if you have any useful tips or hacks in the comments section below.

Main Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels

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