We all love that fresh-from-the-salon feel and few things are cuter than picking your up from her grooming appointment, complete with a bow in her hair. Any professional groomer will tell you that it’s not an easy task bathing, trimming, and clipping a dog. There’s a reason the profession exists, after all.

But for the days when schedules don’t line up, or maybe your dog prefers to not visit a groomer, here are the dos and don’ts of grooming at home:


Invest in the right tools

If you want to do it right, take the time to research and stock up on the proper tools. You don’t need an industrial-size dog wash, but opting for a trusted dog-specific shampoo instead of reaching for your Dove is key. Your dog’s skin is much different from your own, so it’s important to give it the nutrients and moisture it requires.

Also, human clippers are a no-go. It’s worth it to invest in dog-specific clippers to get through any undercoat or curly coat patterns. Plus, you won’t have to pick dog hair off your clipper the next time you use them for yourself. Just remember to use care when clipping your dog. They most likely won’t hold still and it takes time and cautiousness to keep them safe from injury.

Test the water temperature

Nobody wants to be sitting in a scalding hot bath or freezing the entire team. As you get your dog ready to be sudsy, test the water temperature. A warm-to-the-touch temperature is likely just the spot your dog wants it. If it’s too cold for you or burns your skin, then it won’t be comfortable for him either.

Be patient

You’re not a professional dog groomer and that’s fine. So, don’t put pressure on yourself to do it exactly how they do. Take your time and provide a safe, secure environment for you and your dog. If it feels overwhelming, or maybe your dog just outweighs you, ask for some help. And remember, you’ll get better with each grooming session.

Brush your dog daily

If your dog has a longer coat, like a golden retriever, doodle, or most small dogs, it is important to make sure they are brushed regularly. Regular brushing can keep the hair from getting tangled and save your dog from the dreaded shave down from matting. This could also save you money and save your dog from the extra time and pain caused by groomers needing to remove matting. Don’t know what tools to use? Ask your groomer, they are happy to help.


Bathe too often

Your dog’s skin isn’t meant to be bathed daily. Overbathing can lead to dry, irritated skin and itchiness. As a rule of thumb, your dog should be bathed every 10-14 days. Now, this is not a hard and fast rule – use your best judgment, especially if your dog is active or has gotten noticeably dirty.

On the flip side, don’t go too long between washes and grooming either. This can cause dirt build-up and matting in the fur.

Trim nails too short

This is well-known, but worth reiterating. Trimming your dog’s nails requires a bit of finesse. You want to avoid the quick of the nail, the sensitive tissue that can bleed when cut. Take your time with nail trims and provide any necessary distraction for your dog – treats are wonderful! When in doubt, it’s best to play it safe and ask for assistance from someone with experience or a quick trip to the vet.

Remember most dogs should be professionally groomed once every 6-8 weeks. Most groomers also have quick stop in services for things like nail trims and face trimming if you don’t want to try these things at home.