Dog Care 101: How to Groom Your Dog at Home

Dogs are animals, and it’s completely normal for them to behave like animals do.

It’s not unusual for our pets to go out and get themselves in dirt within the first 5 minutes of a daily walk, or ignore their personal hygiene for a few weeks.

Even though canines occasionally give it a shot to keep up with their hygiene schedule by chewing and licking their coats, as a dog owner, you need to know how to groom your dog at home to help them out.

Depending on your choice of a dog breed, some canines will require a lot more grooming than others.

Be prepared to spend anything from 1 hour a week, to 45 minutes a day on your pet’s grooming needs, depending on the breed and what type of environment you live in.

And don’t be fooled by the word “grooming” – it is not all about looking good.

Dog grooming is important for your canine’s health and general well-being, so every pet owner needs to make sure that dogs are up to date on their grooming needs.

Learning how to groom your dog at home and then dedicating a few minutes to take care of your pooch’s fur, ears, nails, other special needs on an (almost) daily basis also goes back to our discussion on cutting costs of owning a pet.

Even though at this time you will pay extra for your pet’s grooming needs, this will pay off many times in the long run. Here are some basic tips on how to groom your dog at home.

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Table of Contents

    • Tools you’ll need when grooming your dog at home
  • Dog Care 101: How to Groom Your Dog at Home
    • Brushing your dog
    • Bathing your dog
    • Caring for your dog’s ears
    • Caring for your dog’s eyes
    • Dog dental care is very important
    • Clipping dog’s nails
    • So should you learn how to groom your dog at home?

Tools you’ll need when grooming your dog at home

There are different levels of how much dog grooming supplies you will require, most of which, again, go back to your choice of dog breed and what type of a place, environment you live in.

Here are some basic pet products for your daily dog grooming needs:

  • Dog clippers or scissors
  • High quality pet brush
  • Healthy dog shampoo
  • Dog nail clippers
  • Pet towel for quick drying
  • Dog treats

These are some of the most necessary items that almost every dog owner needs to have on hand.

Some can be replaced by human-grade equipment if you already own it and want to save an extra dollar, and others dog grooming supply items are simply optional.

For example, pet towels are an optional item because you can easily use a regular towel for the dog; however, special pet towels are designed for your dog’s long, thick coat and will dry them multiple times faster than your regular towel designed for human skin.

RELATED: Best dog clippers for home grooming

Always make sure you know how to use any one of these dog grooming supplies when preparing and learning how to groom your dog at home.

You don’t want to take an electric dog nail clippers and accidentally chop off more of your pooch’s nail that you should have.

Same goes for any other electrical dog grooming equipment that can easily hurt your pet, such as dog clippers.

Take a second to learn how to use everything efficiently and safely.

Dog Care 101: How to Groom Your Dog at Home

There are multiple components of a complete dog grooming procedure, regardless of your breed.

Professional dog groomers recommend to take care of certain grooming needs everyday, while others should only be taken care of once a week or even once a month.

It’s never a bad idea to visit a professional dog groomer at least once for their further advice when you’re learning how to groom your dog at home.

Brushing your dog

Dogs can have sensitive skin, so make sure that you choose a pet grooming brush that works with your dog’s coat type. Do not use something that is too spiky or hard on your Fido’s skin. You want your dog’s experience to be enjoyable and not have him run off from you every time you pick up a brush.

A pet hound glove that has small nubs which massages the skin and loosens dead fur is a great idea for a short-haired dog, and so are all the soft bristle type dog grooming brushes.

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Those slicker pet brushes are best for long-coated dogs. This type of brush works best to aid in loosening and separating long fur. Rake-type brushes combined with a bristle brush are best for dogs with double-coats. It is also never a bad idea to include a flea comb as well.

When you are brushing your dog, make sure to pay attention to your pet’s fur: notice and feel your dog’s coat and skin for any irregularities, infections, lumps or inflammations. Brushing helps your dog’s coat to stay in a healthy shape by removing dead hairs. Regular brushing also aids in releasing oils, which fosters a healthier skin for your Fido.

It is also a good idea to invest in a decent grooming table. Home grooming tables offer a safe and comfortable surface for your dog and makes the whole grooming process, especially when learning how to groom your dog at home, as well as years afterwards, much easier for you and your pet.

Bathing your dog

A big part of grooming your pet at home is bathing. Dog bathing can be a very different experience for different types of dogs based on their personalities, breeds, phobias, training, etc.

The experience will also differ for the owner, too.

Some dogs love baths but others can find this procedure an unpleasant encounter that they always try to avoid.

RELATED: Top dog bathing tips for grooming efficiency

The main thing to remember about bathing your dog is that it’s important to be patient, consistent, firm yet gentle with your dog.

This goes back to you training your dog and knowing what’s the best approach to take with that specific canine.

Dogs are creatures of habit, as you probably already know, so try to stick to the same routine and location so your dog gets used to the whole process more quickly.

Before giving your dog a bath, take care of the brushing part: a good and thorough brush of your pet’s coat to get out any mats from his fur will ease the bathing process by a large margin.

Make sure that you are well prepared and organized before giving him a bath, because depending on the size of your dog, this can prove to be a challenge.

Have enough towels, shampoo, soap and so forth. Look at the list of necessary dog bathing supplies we’ve provided in the related article.

In order to make the process less stressful for your canine and ensure that your pet will not be that scared to come back for a followup session next week, don’t dismiss your pooch’s needs, too.

Work to make this a pleasant experience so that both of your enjoy it.

There are many things that an attentive dog owner should take care of, some of which include:

  1. Check water temperature is perfect
  2. Talk to your dog while bathing
  3. Be gentle and relaxed with the dog
  4. Provide dog treats and other means of positive reinforcement.

What we’re trying to accomplish here aside from simply being empathetic dog owners is to ensure a stress-free process for the dog so that there are less problems with giving your dog a bath in the future.

Essentially, you should look at it this way: every single dog bathing session is a setup to make the next one easier.

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In short, when you’re bathing your pet, start from their neck and go down.

Rinse and repeat a few times and always avoid your dog’s face.

Use a washcloth to rub the face clean but be very safe not to get any soap or shampoo into your pooch’s eyes.

With the final rinse, make sure you rinse your Fido’s whole body thoroughly.

Dry him completely, but also allow him to shake himself off, too, and then be prepared for the “crazy after bath run.”

Caring for your dog’s ears

Not surprisingly, many dog owners forget about taking good care of their dogs’ ears.

Even those learning how to groom your dog at home will always want to focus on the “most important” parts, which are usually bathing and brushing.

However, dog’s ears is no less important part of your pooch’s body either, and there are a few things that you need to look into doing on a regular basis.

The good news is that if your dog has floppy ears, she will need a bit more attention than dogs with shorter ears.

There is more of a chance for ear mites and bacteria to live in the type of ears that provide a more closed up environment for there, such as Beagles’ ears.

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The most perfect time to clean your dog’s ears is right after brushing, and know that a good ear cleaning routine will prevent a multitude of potential future problems.

If you notice your dog shaking her head a lot, trying to get to her ears with her paws, or scratching way too often in the ear area, or if you notice a foul odor coming from her ears, then it is definitely time to look into that: clean her ears thoroughly and even schedule a vet appointment.

When cleaning your dog’s ear, be gentle and accurate. Your pooch will most likely hate this and will wiggle as much as she can, so be firm and quick.

Use a good dog ear cleaning solution, and you can get the best one off Amazon for a cheap price. Then, purchase a bag of cotton balls.

When it is time to clean your dog’s ears, soak a cotton ball into the solution and start by cleaning the outer area of the ears.

Make sure not to go too deep into the ear canal. Do this a few times until your dog’s ears are clean.

Caring for your dog’s eyes

Photo: TheGiantVermin

Those of you learning how to groom your dog at home will also want to know about dog eye care.

Why should you also care for your dog’s eyes?

Because regular eye exams of your pooch while at home will keep you aware of any potential tearing, cloudiness or inflammation in your dog’s eyes, because these may be indicators to a serious health problem.

Before taking any action on your dog’s eyes, do the following:

  1. Take a quick look at your dog’s eyes and see if there’s anything unusual
  2. Investigate dog’s eyes: roll their lower eyelids and check the lining
  3. Compare your dog’s eye state with any potential symptoms of a problem

Dog experts say that we’re missing out by not investigating our dogs’ eyes more often.

Looking at your Fido’s eyes can tell a lot about their current state of health.

Essentially, almost with all breeds, eyes should look clear and, to put it bluntly, healthy.

RELATED: Dog care tips for a happy canine

Professional dog groomers and especially veterinarians will be able to tell you more on complications that come from not taking care of your dog’s eyes, and there are quite a few problems to everybody’s surprise.

Here are a few symptoms that you should be looking out for when checking your dog’s eyes:

Photo: Tom Conger
  • Change in the eye color
  • Odd looking discharge
  • Unequal pupil sizes
  • Eyes not opening fully
  • Tearing in the eyes themselves
  • Red or white eyelid linings
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Visible third eyelid

Begin by cleaning your dog’s eyes.

Carefully wipe away any muck that builds up around the eyes, especially the corners.

You can use a wet warm cloth or buy an eye cleaning solution from your pet store.

There’s really no perfect time to do this, so try to clean your dog’s eyes when needed or when doing grooming your pet at home: after brushing, ear cleaning, bathing and so forth.

It will only take a few seconds for you to investigate your pet’s eyes, but if you catch anything unusual, this can safe your dog a lot of health and some money on vet bills.

Dog dental care is very important

No less important is your pet’s dental care, and brushing your dog’s teeth should be a regular habit for both of you.

Just like with people, your dog needs to have her teeth and gums cleaned daily to keep them healthy.

It’s true – brushing your dog’s teeth can become a nuisance, even if it takes a few minutes, but there’s no way around it.

For an overall good health of your Fido, brushing their teeth is part of the deal if you want to keep them in good shape and truly want to learn how to groom your dog at home and do this properly.

For additional information, occasionally inspect your dog’s teeth and gums by gently opening up her mouth to take a closer look.

Gums must always look pink if they’re healthy, and teeth must be clean and tartar-less.

Sniff your pooch’s breath and notice if the breath is not your usual nasty dog breath but actually a head-turner. Examine your dog’s lips, too, for anything unusual.

Ideally, your dog’s teeth should always be brushed every evening (no need for a morning brush) on a daily basis; however, given how lazy busy most dog owners are, dog experts agreed to suggest at least a few brushing sessions a week, which is the very minimum your dog’s health can afford.

Goes without saying: never use a human toothpaste on your dog.

You can purchase your dog’s very own toothbrush as well as toothpaste on Amazon – there’s a wide variety of options that are affordable, good quality and well rated and reviewed by other dog owners. Take advantage of that!

When you’re trying to learn how to groom your dog at home and do the brushing of your pooch’s teeth yourself, remember to get all the way to the back of your dog’s mouth to reach her molars.

Also, get her gums and gum line and clean those gently but well.

In general, do try to be very gentle with your dog’s mouth yet work thoroughly.

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A good tip that most dog owners already know about keeping your dog’s teeth healthier is to provide them with good quality dog toys to chew on.

Special types of dog treats, such as those dental chews from Greenies, and also dog bones treats all help your dog to maintain a better teeth and gum health.

Clipping dog’s nails

Photo: Randi Deuro

Finally, one of the most popular but least liked dog grooming procedures is dog nail clipper.

When you’re looking to become a decent grooming on your own merit and learning how to groom your dog at home, ensure that you are well prepared for taking care of your pet’s nails.


Immediate question answered: When should you cut your dog’s nails? The rule of thumb is that you cut them whenever they reach the ground. This can mean cutting your pooch’s nails anytime from once a week to once a year (if your dog is a regular city walker on concrete).

First and most important tip bout this dog grooming process: be very, very careful when dealing with your pet’s nails so as to not cut too short.

Cutting too short might hurt your dog and have the nail start bleeding.

In case you do cut too short and need to stop any bleeding, use a bar of soap and press the nail against it for a few minutes.

If the bleeding won’t stop, it is important to get your dog to the veterinarian right away.

RELATED: Best dog nail clippers

Keeping your dog’s nails short and taken care of is also an important part of ensuring your dog’s health.

It takes practice to get it right and have your dog trust you during this scary process.

However, once you get a routine going, it will become much easier for everybody.

Be careful of accidentally cutting the quick on the nail. That is the pink, fleshy part inside your dog’s nail.

ASPCA warns all aspiring home dog groomers on this aspect of nail clipping, and the complications that this may cause.

It is harder to see on canines that have darker nails. Just work at not cutting too much off and you should be safe.

So should you learn how to groom your dog at home?

In short, the answer is a definite yes. Knowing how to groom your dog at home comes with many benefits.

Learning how to groom your dog at home is an admirable, useful endeavor that will provide you with a list of skills that will save money, time and keep your dog healthy on a regular basis.

It’s absolutely worth learning how to do, and preparing for it well with all the necessary equipment – grooming tables, dog washtubs, brushes, clippers, etc. – will be expensive, time consuming and stressful at first, but ensure a much greater reward in the long run.

Don’t forget about yourself, too.

Occasionally, give yourself a break and treat your puppy to a professional groomer.

Your dog can get the royal treatment while you go out to do a little shopping.

Or, you can stay with your dog groomer and learn even more tricks of the trade on how to groom your dog at home from an experienced pet professional.

To further expand your dog grooming skills, continue to be curious: ask question, research the topic and become an expert in home dog grooming, which is a fun endeavor in the first place once you get a good grasp of the fundamentals.

Speak to other dog owners and find out from them what type of equipment they’ve used and who are the professionals they recommend learning from.

In the end, a clean, well groomed and taken care of dog is a happy healthy pet and that always makes for a happy owner!

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