Getting Started with Dog Grooming at Home
Hey there my fellow dog people,
Since I groom my own dogs at home I thought I’d share what type of dog grooming tools you’ll need to get it done. Of course, not all dog’s have the same type of coat or fur, so not all grooming tools work on certain dogs.
But, in general, you’ll need to have these seven things…even if you do take your dog to a groomer every few months or so.
If you’ve had dogs before you’ll know what I mean…they don’t stay perfectly clean til the next grooming appointment and the fur somehow gets all over and into…
And, as I’ve learned it helps to do some grooming yourself to help keep that darn fur from overrunning the whole house! Otherwise, you’ll be finding fur tumbleweeds in every nook and cranny of your home… if you dare to look, lol.
7 Essential Dog Grooming Tools
- Spray Bottle – to wet hair down before brushing*
- Dog Shampoo – pH balanced for dogs made with natural ingredients & fragrances
- Skin & Coat Conditioner
- Hair Dryer/Towels
- Nail Clippers
- Patience & treats
These are basically the main things you’ll need to get the job done on any dog. No matter what breed…
But, of course it’s never that simple!
It depends on what type of coat your dog has, and whether it’s a long or short-haired type as well.
*Why the spray bottle?
If you just gave your dog a bath, you won’t need the spray bottle, but if you’re just giving it a little brushing it helps to use water to wet the hair down.You’ll be surprised how much more fur you’ll get off your dog when you do this!
Don’t ask me why it works, but for some reason it seems to work on our short-haired dogs, Argon and Jade. Usually these two don’t really need to be brushed every day, but at least once or twice a week.
However, if I notice there’s a lot of loose hair starting to happen, I’ll just give them a quick brushing once a day to get rid of that fur before it ends up all over the house. Usually this happens in the Spring and Fall of the year in preparation for Summer and Winter months coming along since we live in an area with all four seasons…winter lasting the longest though.
Ugh, so tired of snow and the cold!
Winter for us averages around 10-20°F. But, occasionally it’s extremely cold at -30°F to a high of 0° although it’s usually not that cold for long. In the Summer it’s anywhere from 60° up to around 90°F at times.
So, if you live in an area that’s warm most of the year I’m not sure if this would happen with your dog or not.
We also have the long-haired, double-coated Shih Tzu, Daisy. Grooming her long hair works better with using a bit of detangler or conditioner for dogs rather than water, especially if it’s gotten into a tangled mess again. Combing dry, long hair tends to split and break it.
Not to mention, combing through long hair like hers when it’s dry can become quite an experience in static electricity, lol.
Although it looks rather funny for a bit with all the hair floating around her little body like she’s been given an electrical shock, it’s no fun at all trying to brush it like that!
Her hair has taken on a mind of its own and become totally unmanageable at that point!
Maybe this happens only if you live in an area that is cold and in the winter the heat is on and the air is somehow always so dry in here…
Usually we keep her hair somewhat on the shorter side, just to keep things a bit easier though.
It’s a lot of work to keep the long hair on a dog like a Shih Tzu looking beautiful and flowing like you see in the show dogs. If that’s the look you want you’ll need to thoroughly brush it out each and every day.
Since our Daisy’s hair is cut a bit shorter, we don’t have to brush it daily, but it still needs to be brushed every other day or so. I’ve never ever seen a dog’s hair mat up so quickly!
It can be just brushed and I swear…just looking at her must cause it to tangle up again, lol!
So, yes…I give up! Much as I love the look of the long, flowing hair, it’s just too much work…short it shall be!
Six Dog Coat Types – Which Type of Coat Does Your Dog Have?
- Smooth – (Pit bull, Daschund, Bull Dog, etc.)
- Double – (Husky, Collie, Shih Tzu, etc. & can also be long or short haired depending on breed)
- Wire or Broken Coat – (Jack Russell Terrier, Brussels Griffon, Affenpinscher)
- Curly – (Poodles, Havanese, Maltese, Airedale Terrier, Welsh Terrier)
- Long – (Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, Bearded Collie, Yorkshire Terrier, Afghan Hound)
- Hairless – (Chinese Crested, Peruvian Inca Orchid, American Hairless Terrier)
Types of Brushes & Combs
- Bristle – all coat types
- Wire-pin – medium to long hair
- Slicker – all coat types
- Stripping comb – medium to long hair – used for wire-haired dogs to remove dead hairs of their top coat
- Undercoat rake – similar to the wire-pin brush, but fewer & longer pins- used for dogs with double coats
- De-shedding Tool – short-medium hair
- De-matting combs – long hair
- Curry combs – short hair
Bathing Your Dog
- Shampoo for dogs
- Hair dryer
- Detangler/conditioner for dogs with long hair
- Skin & coat conditioner for dogs with short fur
Bathing your dog is not usually needed all that often…much less than us people have to bathe. So, this part of grooming is not one that needs to be done daily, nor weekly.
In fact, I don’t usually give our two bigger dogs a bath using shampoo and all the works for even a few months at a time…unless of course, they get into something messy or smelly…
Such as a coffee can full of uhhh… earthworms, dirt, and water, that tipped over at the same time two of our dogs were right below it, laying under our wooden deck quite a few years ago…
And Oh…The Smell!
Okay, let me explain that…or try to, lol.
Yes, it was earthworms, dirt, and water…
And No! I swear we weren’t trying to drown these poor worms!
At the time, my son was rather young and was constantly collecting things…from frogs, toads, and to you guessed it…worms! Little did I know he had collected up some earthworms and placed them in the coffee can along with some dirt of course…
Gotta have dirt for the worms to live in, right?
Well, then it rained and the can filled up with water through the little breathing holes he so kindly put on the lid…
Hey, the worms gotta breathe you know!
And, I’m thinking you get the picture…
Eyeing that mysterious can sitting there, I just had to look…
You know the old saying, curiosity killed the cat?
Guess there’s a reason to it after all…
And, in my fumbling around with the lid, I accidentally dumped it over…spilling it all over the deck. And, unfortunately for me and two of our dogs who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time!
Our poor dogs, Daisy and Jade shot out from under the deck like a couple of crazed bats outta hell!
Guess who had to give them a bath?
Oh, Lucky Me!
Crazy things like this happen from time to time when you have kids along with furry kids. When ridiculously smelly and messy things like this happen, then it’s off to the bath tub they go!
Again, most of the time they don’t need a bath for more than a month or so. Depending on whether they get smelly or dirty. Some dogs tend to get dirty quicker than others though…and smelly too.
Such as our smaller dogs for some reason. They need a bath much more often than the big dogs. Maybe it’s the somewhat longer, thicker fur or the fact that they’re closer to the ground…
But, whatever the reason they get filthy and stinky in about a month. Neither of our little dogs shed either, so that could be another reason.
Here’s a helpful video I found on YouTube for giving a bigger dog a bath below:
Choosing a Dog Shampoo
When it comes to choosing a dog shampoo make sure it has pH balanced for dogs written somewhere on the bottle or try to find one that is made with natural ingredients & fragrances.
Myself, I’d prefer using ones made with all-natural ingredients as they’d also be much safer and gentle for your dog.
I recently wrote another post reviewing one that I think works well…
You can check it out here on Best Dog Shampoo for Itchy Skin
Shampoos with vitamin E, aloe vera, honey, oatmeal, and tea tree oil are excellent ones for your dog’s skin and coat since they are natural moisturizers.
Another thing to look for are ones with chamomile, lavender, eucalyptus, cedarwood, peppermint, or citrus in their ingredients. These are natural fragrances that not only make your dog smell good, they can also act as an insect repellent.
Just be careful to keep the shampoo away from your dog’s eyes, using a washcloth over their eyes helps some as long as you can keep it there. I also find it helps to use a handheld sprayer on a gentle setting to bathe our dogs…this way I can direct the water and shampoo away from the eyes a bit easier.
Detanglers – Skin & Coat Conditioners
If your dog has longer hair, I can’t say enough how much easier it is to get any tangles and even some mats out by using a detangler
spray or cream in their fur.
Our two smaller dogs pretty much require a detangler in their hair to get a comb through it at times.
You can get detanglers to use as you’re brushing them in a spray form and you can also get ones that are also conditioners, which you can use after washing your furball with shampoo.
Plus, some are in concentrated form, which means you’ll have to follow the directions on the bottle to mix them with water correctly.
One you might want to consider to get those pesky tangles and mats out is simply called The Stuff. I recently wrote a review post, which you can check out here The Stuff – Hair Detangler and Conditioner.
Skin & Coat Conditioners:
Conditioner is usually a good idea to use even if your dog has short hair and using it on a long-haired dog will make brushing it out so much easier after a bath.
One of the reasons I’d recommend using a conditioner on your dog’s coat is that after a bath especially, their fur is left rather exposed to the elements…the shampoo removes any dirt and grime when you give your pooch a bath.
Of course, that’s the reason you gave your dog a bath, but along with all the dirt and grime, you’re also washing out the natural oils that are
usually in your dog’s coat.
This leaves the fur feeling a bit rough and its also “open” to damage and residue. Using a conditioner seals and fills in the hair or fur, keeping it smooth and soft feeling too.
Giving Your Dog a Haircut
- Patience – a lot of it!
- Electric clippers
- Grooming scissors
Now, I totally understand if you bring your dog to the groomers just for this reason…
The Dreaded…. Haircut!
I’ve done it for years with all of our small dogs…somehow, we always have had at least one small dog in the house.
And, of course, all have been breeds that need quite a bit of attention to their lovely locks…
I’ve found the quickest and safest way is to use clippers…as much as you possibly can! I’d recommend trying to find ones that are quiet running and meant for pets.
But, then you have some dogs… ahem, Daisy!
That are impossible to hold still if they hear those clippers coming at them!
So, now what?
Well, although it’s tempting sometimes…
I can’t knock her out somehow, can I?
Hey, I’m only kidding people! You know that right?
Anyways, for her, my little queen, Daisy, I use the curved, rounded-tip grooming scissors. Since they’re curved with the tip going upwards, away from the skin, I don’t feel as if I’m going to be cutting into her skin with each snip of the scissors. Plus, the rounded tips prevent me from accidentally poking into her tender skin.
Hopefully, she’ll eventually get used to those darn clippers though…it’d be so much easier! Plus, even though the curved scissors help to keep from accidentally cutting or nicking the skin, they’re still not foolproof...
So, if you do use scissors of any kind make sure you see where your dog’s skin is before you cut!
Especially, if your dog’s fur is matted, it might be pulling the skin up towards it…so take a look at it first. One thing that might help in this case is to use a wide-toothed comb if you can get it in there between the mat and the skin…then, cut it with the comb there as a barrier between the skin and hair.
If you don’t want to do this…I sure can’t blame you!
It happens to the best of us at times. No matter how often we groom them, we might miss some spots…until one day they become big, noticeable clumps of fur! So, if your dog’s fur is really matted and either you can’t get at it safely, or you’ve just had enough…
Then, it’s best to leave it to the professionals!
Nail Care for Dogs
- Nail clippers for dogs
- Files/grinders – just to round off any really sharp areas you notice
Clipping your dog’s nails can be done using nail clippers for dogs. These usually have a rounded opening to fit your dog’s nail, being careful not to cut too far towards the dog’s toe. I usually try to just trim the very tips off myself.
You can also get nail clippers with a safety stop on them, but even using those I’d still recommend keeping an eye on how short you’re cutting the nail… Otherwise, if you cut too far up you’ll end up with a bleeding toenail…
And, a dog that won’t trust you with those nail cutters in your hands again!
Dogs have nerves along with a blood supply, called the quick in their toenails. In light-colored nails you’ll see it as a pink-colored center. However, in dark or black nails it’s much harder to tell, so cut just a little at a time. Once you see a horseshoe shape that’s as far as you should go.
If you do happen to cut into the quick as its called, it’ll probably bleed a lot, but you can use a product called Kwik Stop, which is a powder that you can pack into the nail that was cut too short to stop the bleeding. Corn starch works the same way too, but not as well.
You can read more about it at Cut My Dog’s Nail too Short.
Still Thinking of Grooming Your Dog at Home?
Grooming your dog at home will definitely save you money and if it’s something you’d like to try then go for it! Especially, if you’re spending a lot of money at the groomers or have more than one dog like I do…a few years ago, we actually had five dogs…I can’t imagine how much that would’ve cost to bring them all to the groomers!
Just remember to have patience with your dog. Use treats your dog loves to reward them for being good too…and, to teach them that these grooming tools are nice things…they’ll get good treats when these are around.
Do consider too, the type of coat your dog has before purchasing a ton of grooming supplies. I find the bristle and slicker brushes to work quite well for all of my dogs depending on what I need done.
The wire-pin brush works somewhat with the long-haired little ones, as long as I haven’t been slacking on grooming. For those two though, a wide-tooth comb has become a great friend of mine, as well as the de-matting comb.
Just be careful using a de-matting comb…
It’s actually a comb with sharp blades to cut through mats.
Pay attention to where your thumb is at when using one, and if it has a place for your thumb, remember to use it… lol!
Those blades are sharp as I found out! Ouch…
When all is said and done, I’d have to say that no matter what type of dog you have it’s best to keep up on its grooming not only to make it easier the next time, but for your dog’s overall health and happiness too.
Plus, if you have dogs that shed like there’s no tomorrow it’ll help keep the fur at bay…you’ll notice much less dog hair all over the place if you do!
*(Update June 2017:) But, if you’re swamped in dog hair already, and need something to help you clean it up, you can check out another post I recently wrote here at What is the Best Vacuum for Pet Hair?
Thanks for reading! I know it was long! So, if you’re here yet…a huge thank you!
I hope this has been helpful and if you have any questions or comments, please let me know in the comment box below…
Do you have any favorite types of grooming tools you use on your dog? I’d love to hear from you!