Do you spend more money getting your dog’s hair cut than your own? It was costing me $60-$90 to get my dog’s hair groomed so I decided to try doing it myself. To add insult to injury, after grooming my dog is always SUPER itchy. I believe due to blow drying and scented products that irritate her skin.
My logic was if it takes me an hour to do it, I won’t be spending any more time than if I took her to the groomer with the driving. Bonus, I will save a bunch of money. After doing this for about a year I decided that the best solution for me is to groom her at home most of the time but every few hair cuts I take her to a professional. That way her nails get clipped and it’s an easier pattern for me to follow with her cut.
Guide to Equipment Required to Groom
Even though you may spend a few bucks getting the stuff you need, it will pay for itself after one or two haircuts. I list them in order of importance.
Clippers are the most important part of your equipment decision. I purchased these clippers after reading lots of reviews and they are great.
They are expensive but they don’t shock my dog ever, which is something I read about with others. They have a long cord; they are powerful enough to go for an hour and they are pretty quiet.
This set of scissors has a bunch of different sizes and a comb. The scissors have a blunt end so you can’t injure your dog. If I was buying a pair of scissors today, I would buy just one medium pair with the blunt end.
I have dog brush like this for my dog, but the type of brush you like to use depends on your dog. The good thing about this brush is that it works for most breeds, short of long hair.
Most dogs have some area that they don’t really like for people to handle. For my dog it’s the feet. She has never tried to bite me and I’ve learned how to position myself so that’s there less risk of getting bitten. Having said that, it’s not a bad idea to get a muzzle for your dog.
The table is optional. You could groom your dog on any surface that’s high enough where you don’t have to bend over. I like this table and I use it for other things, like ironing (since I don’t have an ironing board). This table is very sturdy and my dog doesn’t jump off. The arm is not really useful for me, it’s not strong enough to hold her head.
The cooling spray is also optional. I don’t always use it. I purchased this spray. I try to alternate between the clippers and scissors when the clippers start to get warm, see more on that below.
I always have a plastic bowl with dog treats near the grooming table. Since, the process takes an hour for me I reward Lucy for standing so patiently. I specify plastic bowl, because I have dropped the bowl on the ground multiple times during grooming.
I always wear an apron because it has many pockets and there are lots of things to hold while grooming. In addition, as you might imagine there is a lot of hair floating around so the apron catches most of that.
How To Groom Your Dog
This guide is not comprehensive and it depends on the breed of your dog. I am by no means a pro at it, but my goal is not perfection. If you want a very specific style for your dog, I recommend googling the breed of your dog + grooming. I did this for golden doodles BUT the results were a bit overwhelming. These videos are done by professional groomers and not something I could achieve. So, I mostly ignored them and came up with my own less perfect method.
1. Brush your dog’s hair
Most groomers bath the dog and brush and blow dry their fur before grooming them. I do the reverse. I don’t bath my dog until after to remove all of the loose hair clippings. It can be very tricky to groom the dog if their fur is matted or tangled. My dog always has matts by the time I get around to giving her a haircut. I usually try to clip these out with scissors before I brush. If your dog is very dirty, you will need to bath them and let them dry completely before grooming them.
2. Cut the paws
For my dog this is the most sensitive area. I knock these out first because after that the rest is easy. I use scissors for most of the paw and it’s very important to examine the paw for the extra claw (officially called a dew claw) which is up the leg a little bit. If you aren’t careful you can accidentally cut this. I start by turning the paw upside down and cutting as much of the hair in between the pads as I can. I then put the foot down clip around the edges to shape the paw.
3. Use clippers on the body
You can ask your groomer what length clipper they use. They have a number. I have found that the metal clips work much better than the plastic ones, but they cut the dog’s hair shorter. I use a 5 for my dog. The higher the number the shorter the cut. I bought plastic clips, but never use them because they get stuck in my dogs fur.
I start at the head and work toward the tail. If you groom from tail to head instead you will get a more precise cut but my dog has curly hair so it’s hard to see a difference. I usually do the body in 1/4 sections I clip the top right side, for example, and then do step 4 before I turn her around. After an ear, I turn her around and do another 1/4.
4. Trim the ears
When the clippers start to get warm I take a break and do an ear. I use the scissors to cut the gross dirty hairs that are growing down into the year. I also use my fingers around the edges of the ear to be sure I don’t cut the skin. My dog’s ears tend to get big clumps of fur right at top of the hear where it connects to the head. This is the one area of the ear where I can use clippers.
5. Trim the beard and face
By the time I get to the head I’m using mostly scissors. I use the brush to comb her beard down and try to cut a straight line with scissors. This is sort of like what you see when people get a hair cut. I also trim between the eyes with scissors. For the top of the head I just clip around until I like the way it looks. I use clippers to just above where her collar is and the rest with scissors.
6. Trim the tail and rear
My husband likes the tail cut very short so I use clippers at the very base of the tail. I also use clippers around her private parts. I use scissors to cut the longer parts of her tail.
7. Bath the dog
I normally bath the dog after a hair cut because I think the tiny pieces of hair that fall into her coat make her itchy. Plus, I don’t want all that loose fur in my house. I never blow dry my dog because it makes her skin dry and by the end I’m ready to be done.
Bottom line is that I found cutting her hair every other time and saves me 50% and she looks good. I let the professional groomer trim her nails and clean up her paws, which I often can’t get short enough.
Have you ever tried grooming your dog? What worked for you?
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