Dog Grooming 101

Grooming is an essential part of the well-being and overall health of a dog. It supports general cleanliness, and skin health. Grooming helps to create a closer bond between the dog and the owner. Not to mention, it just makes our furry friends look clean and pretty.


Performing regular grooming with a brush or a comb helps keep your dog’s hair in good condition. It gets rid of dirt, distributes natural oils throughout his coat, prevents tangles and keeps his skin clean and free of irritants. Not to mention, it cuts down significantly on the amount of hair you will have to remove from your car, furniture and other places.

When it’s grooming time, it is also a great time to look for fleas and flea dirt, which are those little black dots that show that your dog is home to a family of fleas. It is also a good time to check your dog’s health. While you are brushing, check out the condition of her coat. Is the hair matted, tangled, dry or oily? Look for anything unusual such as lumps, ticks or cuts.

When you are brushing your dog, brush down and out, away from the dog’s skin, always in the direction that the coat grows. Brush gently, moving through tangles in the same way you would with a child. Better yet, use a coat conditioner or a mat spray, leaving it on for several minutes.

If your dog’s coat is smooth and short, you only need to brush her once a week

  • Using a rubber brush, loosen dead skin and dirt.
  • Next, remove dead hair with a bristle brush.
  • Take a chamois cloth and use it to polish her.

If your dog’s coat is long and thick, you will need to brush her daily

  • Remove tangles by using a slicker brush.
  • Next, use a bristle brush to remove dead hair.
  • Comb her tail as well.
  • You may need to trim the hair around the hocks and feet.


If you have a puppy, it is a good idea to get her used to start bathing her as soon as possible. If you get her used to bathing earlier in the game, it will be easier to continue the habit. Dogs usually aren’t crazy about bath time, as many of them prefer being dirty and smelly. In order to get a dog to let you give him a bath, it is a good idea to tie the bath with something positive. Convince your dog with treats, toys and affection that bath time is something he should like. Use treats to lure your dog into the tub, before putting water in it.

According to the ASPCA, you should bathe your dog once every 3 months or so. However, if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors in the summertime, he may need a bath more often than this.

Be sure to use a mild shampoo that is designed for dogs and follow these instructions

  • Make sure your dog has been thoroughly brushed first.
  • Put a rubber bath mat inside the tub to make sure the dog won’t slide all over the place. Fill the tub with about 3 or 4 inches of lukewarm water.
  • If your dog will let you, stuff cotton balls in his ears.
  • Ideally using a spray hose, wet your dog thoroughly. Make sure you don’t spray directly in his ears, eyes or nose. If no spray hose is available, use a pitcher instead.
  • Working from head to tail, gently massage in the shampoo.
  • Use a washcloth to wash your dog’s face.
  • Rinse thoroughly, once more.
  • Dry off your dog with a big towel. At most pet stores, you can find an extra-absorbent towel meant for dogs. Some people use a dog blowdryer, but the noise may be a bit hard for your dog to get used to. You would also need to make sure not to burn his skin. However you dry off your dog, be prepared for the fact that he is going to help you do so by shaking himself off.

Nail Clipping

Why is clipping your dog’s nails so important? Because long toenails equal painful feet. As a dog’s toenails contact the hard ground, this pushes the nail back up into the nail bed. This will cause the toes to become sore, to the point of becoming arthritic. Not trimming your dog’s nails will also cause their hind limbs to become overworked. This will make it difficult for your dog to jump in a car, climb the stairs and even get up from lying down. Trimming your dog’s nails once every two weeks is recommended.

It is an unfamiliar and uncomfortable experience for most dogs to have their nails clipped. This is because they simply are not used to having someone touching their feet. This is why it just makes sense to get your dog used to the sensation before you try and trim their nails. To do this, begin by rubbing your hand up and down her leg, and then press each individual toe. While doing so, be sure to give her lots of praise and some treats. If you do this same thing for a week or so, chances are that your dog will be more open to getting a trim.

Here is what to do:

  • Start by spreading your dog’s feet, looking for dirt and debris.
  • Using sharp nail clippers, cut off the tip of each nail at a slight angle, right before the point where the nail begins to curve.
  • Be very careful to avoid the quick, which is a vein that is running through the nail. You can see this pink area through the nail, unless the dog has black nails. If the dog’s nails are too dark, you will need to be extra careful as you won’t be able to see it as well.
  • Should you happen to accidentally cut into the vein, it might bleed. To stop the bleeding, apply some syptic powder.
  • Smooth out any rough edges by using an emery board.

The Ears

Part of your dog’s regular grooming routine should include checking the ears regularly. This is particularly important for dogs who have a lot of earwax or a lot of hair in their inner ear. Due to the design of a dog’s ears, it becomes easy for unwelcome guests such as parasites, bacteria and yeast to make their home there. When debris becomes trapped, an infection can happen as a result. Dogs that have allergies are particularly at risk, as well as dogs with floppy ears.

If your dog’s ears appear to be dirty, here is what you should do

  • Take a cotton ball dampened with mineral oil or hydrogen peroxide and use it to clean your dog’s ears. Do this with care as skin in the inner ear is quite delicate.
  • Never insert anything into your dog’s ear canal. Don’t clean your dog’s ears so often or deeply that it causes them irritation.
  • If your dog has hair coming out of his ear canal, ask your veterinarian if it needs to be tweezed periodically.

Should you notice any of the following conditions in your dog’s ears, contact your veterinarian

  • Discharge
  • Bad Smell
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Crusty skin
  • Hair loss
  • Brown or black ear wax or dry, dark wax that looks like coffee grounds. This could mean that your dog has microscopic ear mites.

More than likely, your dog isn’t going to be happy about getting his ears cleaned. To help the process, offer your dog treats when he is cooperating. Ideally, your dog’s ears should be cleaned about once a week.

Your Dog’s Eyes

Now it is time to take care of your dog’s eyes. Begin by stepping into a well-lit area and gazing into her eyes. Look carefully for crust, discharge or tearing. Also make sure that there is white visible around the eyeball. Also look for signs of cloudiness, unequal pupil sizes, a visible third eyelid, or a change in eye color. If your dog is closing his eyes or rubbing them, these are more signs that he needs to see the vet.

To clean your dog’s eyes, take a damp cotton ball and wipe outward from the corner of the eye, making sure not to scratch the cornea. Should you see redness, which is common during dry winters, use a dog eye wash with the cotton ball.


Dogs can get dental problems such as cavities, gum disease, and tartar buildup, just like people can. If your dog has gum disease, bacteria can get into the bloodstream and cause a myriad of other health problems. To avoid this, your dog’s teeth should be cleaned 2 to 3 times a week.

  • Begin by purchasing a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically designed for dogs. This is important because human toothpaste can cause your dog’s stomach to become sick, as it is not intended to be swallowed.
  • Choose the right time to do it. Try brushing his teeth after he has had plenty of exercise, so that he will be more likely to sit still.
  • Brush your dog’s teeth gently. If your dog becomes irritated, you can quit even if the whole mouth isn’t brushed yet.

Clipping Your Dog’s Fur

If your dog has long fur, clipping may need to become part of your dog grooming process. It is a good idea to visit a professional at least once, so that you can watch them clip the coat of your specific breed. Ask them what type of blade or snap-on guide comb is right for your dog. You need to have a general understanding of what your dog’s fur is “supposed” to look like. Before you begin, brush and bathe your dog.

  • Gather your tools. You will need a clipper, comb and slicker brush. Ideally, select a dog clipper that operates as quietly as possible so that you won’t surprise or stress your dog.
  • As you are clipping your dog’s fur, make it a habit to turn them off periodically and touch them to test the temperature. Clippers that are too hot can actually burn your dog.
  • If you find that the blade is too hot, you can spray clipper coolant or lubricant on the blade. You can also remove it and put the hot blade on something metal, which will absorb the heat.
  • You should expect it to take you 15 to 20 minutes to trim your dog.

Selecting the Right Dog Groomer

Of course, you always have the option of hiring a professional dog groomer. If the idea of wrestling with a soapy dog or fighting with a pair of clippers doesn’t sound appealing to you, finding the right dog groomer may be a better option.

What to Look for in a Grooming Shop


A master groomer should have NDGA certification. This means that the groomer’s skills have been tested against the national standard. When someone is truly a master groomer, they know safety procedures, hygiene and health practices, about handling pesticides, the dog’s anatomy, correct dog handling techniques and first aid.


What is your first impression of the grooming shop? Does it look clean? Is there a smell? Another thing to make sure of is that it doesn’t have fleas. You don’t want your dog coming home in a worse condition than they were in before. To see if the shop has fleas, wear white shoes and socks. If there are fleas present, you will find them jumping around your ankles.

Ask about drying cages

Drying cages have a hot dryer that blows into a small cage. They are not dangerous for dogs, unless they are used improperly. For example, the groomer can’t just turn up the heat, set the timer and walk away. This is where credentials come in. If the groomer has had proper training, he or she will not be putting your dog in danger.

Monitor your comfort level

Will you feel comfortable leaving your dog alone with this person? Most dog groomers prefer that you leave your dog instead of staying there with them. This is because the dog may behave badly if you are his audience.


And there you have it! Grooming your precious pooch need not be a headache. Your loving gesture of caring for them properly will be rewarded by their happiness and well-being in return.