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DIY Dog Grooming Basics

My dog Doc is a fluffy pup, so he gets dirty very quickly. His legs, belly, and beard pick up dirt and water easily. I decided to groom him myself at home rather than take him to the groomer. Here are some things I learned about do-it-yourself dog grooming and bathing.

General Tips

dog grooming

Tools required: dog shampoo, towel, conditioner (optional), waterproof apron (optional), scissors/clippers, brush, treats.  

Give your dog treats and praise as you work. It will make it more enjoyable for both of you. You can give him treats periodically or a long-lasting rawhide treat or toy with treats inside.

It helps to start grooming when they’re young to get them used to it. You should also pay attention to what your dog does and doesn’t like. If your dog hates nail trims, do that part last. If he loves getting brushed, make sure to spend some extra time brushing his coat out. You can also add in a little massage time at the end.


diy dog grooming

You should brush your dog before the bath to get out any tangles or mats. Try out different combs and brushes until you find the best one for your dog’s coat. Some dogs have different lengths and styles on different parts of their bodies, so you might need a few different brushes.

Brush out mats by holding your pet’s fur close to the skin and gently working out the mat. Cut out mats that can’t be brushed out. Keep in mind that long-haired dogs might need daily brushings, while short-haired dogs are often fine with a brushing once a week.

Bath Time

diy dog grooming

Most dogs only need to be bathed once every week or two. As you’re bathing your dog, use plenty of warm water to keep him nice and wet, and make sure to work the soap into your dog’s fur and skin. Start at the top and work your way down. My favorite dog shampoo is called Clear Advantages: Totally Natural Pet Shampoo by earthbath. It suds up really well, so I don’t need to use a lot.

Spend some extra time on your dog’s neck, where his collar normally is. It’s very important to keep that area clean. During the bath, do a quick check all over your dog’s skin for cuts, ticks, or irritated skin.

I usually wash Doc’s face last to prevent getting soap in his eyes or nose. To protect your dog’s eyes, you can put a drop of mineral oil around each eye. A cotton ball placed in each ear will help keep water out. When I rinse Doc’s face, I cover his eyes with my hand. His beard is hard to get completely clean, but it helps to keep it shorter.

You can also buy special products designed to keep your dog’s beard clean. Always rinse well to prevent your dog’s skin from drying out. If your dog has skin problems, use a shampoo that’s medicated or designed for sensitive skin and keep him in the tub to let the soap soak in for 15-30 minutes before rinsing. You can also buy coat conditioners that are either leave-in sprays or are rinsed out after.

Let your dog drip dry for a few minutes in the tub, then towel him dry. You can also buy special doggie dryers which can cost anywhere from $30 to $300, or you can use a regular hair dryer on a cool setting.

You can brush him out while you blow dry to help him dry faster. Be sure to dry your dog’s feet well. My vet recommends waiting 3 days before or after bathing to apply flea/tick meds, unless you use an oatmeal-based shampoo.


diy dog grooming

Right after a bath is the perfect time for basic coat maintenance. How to cut your dog’s hair is really up to you. You can keep the fur the same length all over with a puppy cut, or just trim certain parts. You could also try a haircut based on your dog’s breed. My mom’s Scottish Terrier mix looks great with a traditional Scottie haircut. Let your pet dry off about 75% before giving him a haircut, and be sure to brush his coat out.

It’s helpful to have someone help you keep your dog still. If your dog starts to squirm or seems stressed, give him some treats and take a quick break with a toy and some petting.

I usually keep Doc’s legs and belly trimmed pretty short so he doesn't pick up as much dirt and debris. I use scissors and eyeball the length by comparing it to my finger length. His leg fur is about as long as the first part of my index finger, and his belly fur is half the length of my finger. Hold the fur close to the skin to prevent nicking your dog with the scissors. Clippers can be set to a standard length so you don’t have to measure it yourself or worry about cutting your dog’s skin.

Your dog might have ticklish feet, so be careful to hold him still when you’re working on his feet. When trimming around the beard or face, be careful not to cut any whiskers, as that can be quite painful for your dog.

Consider both clippers and scissors for grooming tools. Clippers are great for getting an even haircut, but the noise can also bother your pet. Scissors are good for longer haircuts and getting spots like the feet and face. Scissors are better for pets who don’t like the noise hair clippers make, but it’s easier to nick your pet’s skin with scissors. Go for clippers that have different blade lengths and scissors that are short and sharp and have straight edges.

More Grooming Articles

Here are some more guides to dog bathing, grooming, nail trimming, ear cleaning, and teeth cleaning.

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Thanks Roslyn for this excellent post. We should always notice what our dogs want, what they like or dislike so we can keep our of pets safe. If our dog like to groom then it is also important that we should spare some time for grooming as it will result in an efficient and fruitful relationship. I have had used Petsafe Remote training Collars from Innotek Collars company and I really appreciate their services.

I never thought of messaging my dog after the bath. That’s a great idea! Thanks so much for sharing :)

Can you tell me what kind of dog Doc is, he is adorable,

Hi Paula, Doc’s human companion likes to say he is a Smoky Mountain Terrier. That’s actually not a real breed, but they’re unsure of his breed and seeing that he’s been raised in the Smokies, they like to joke and say that’s it. At their best guess, he’s a Wheaten Terrier or Tibetan Terrier mix. Have a great day!

Hey, there..thanks for sharing some good information for dog grooming and tips as well.

What you have shared here is very informative and really helpful. Also, I think if you really don’t want to use your time grooming your puppies why not let it take care by professional dog groomer as they know exactly what to do and will keep you updated with the latest cuts.

Ugh, smaller dogs always tend to get dirtier faster! Very cute!

Good tips, I’m guilty of washing both on a regular basis, I should leave myself a note to start!

Hi Roslyn, where do we find a picture or link of the brush that you have been using for your dog?

Hi there!

I actually do not have a link to the brush that I use for my dog, but it basically looks like a mini rake to get through his long fur. It’s not very good for the shorter fur on his legs and feet though, so for that I use a standard soft bristle brush.

Great post! Love your blog. Just starting out grooming my dog so this was very useful

I have been making use of this clipper for my Normal Poodle for about 6 months now - I do his ft
and face at the very least when a month - and
it is excellent for all our requirements. I have
in no way taken him to a groomer, and have experienced display pet
pals and professional groomers tell me he appears great with just the
clipping we do with this clipper. All clippers
will get scorching - it’s merely a law of physics: two items of metallic rubbing with
each other at high velocity leads to heat. I have extra blades and
a damp cloth nearby when the blade will get sizzling.
If you discover the clipper “drags through the coat” it may be
the identical factor that took place to me when
I very first got it - the blade wasn’t snapped down into placement properly and it wasn’t clipping at all.
For my Poodle, this clipper is fantastic, and the value can’t be
I had by no means clipped possibly dog or human prior to, but
determined to attempt undertaking my Standard Schnauzer at residence.
He is the terror of all nearby groomers: they complain that he struggles the whole time, so it’s been a headache for them
and expensive for me. After exploring property-use clippers at the Groomers BBS, I made
the decision on this Andis clipper established and I am delighted.
It is so tranquil that my puppy all but disregarded it (other than
around his ears) and it minimize by way of his extremely shaggy coat like butter.
This clipper created straightforward a occupation that I had feared would be disastrous.

The comb attachments help to blend in the quick and
extended coat places on the Schnauzer. I followed the suggestions of the professionals and bought an additional blade so that I could swiftly swap them as they grew scorching.

Very informative! Thanks for the tips. Great post!

Hi, Thank you for sharing these tips and helpful to anyone. I really wants to learn new about Grooming and waiting for your new updates. Thank you again.

A grooming appointment can be a very traumatic experience for a dog if done the wrong way.  It can also be dangerous if done by the wrong groomer.  We completely agree with the synopsis of this article.  There are many things, like massages, that can be done to make it a positive experience for your pet.  Nice article?

What an adorable little thing! Thanks for the tips, I always find with dogs that you wash them then the minute they shake it off they’re back to their dirty selves! Ah well…

Great article! Thanks so much for the advice, I’m going to get to work right now!

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Pet hair is very much important to treated well and carefully as it can cause the sickness due to bugs and infections so regular treatment like washing and grooming will help.

Hello, I really want to thank you for the helpfull advices and would like to ask you about a problem I have with my dog, and it’s that he absolutely hates when I brush him, he even bites sometimes while we try to do it, I tried treats and all but they won’t work and its hard cus his fur is large, any help or advice is welcome. Thank you c:

I think you pretty much said everything on how to properly groom a dog. Thanks for all the tips! Grooming takes a lot of time and it requires patience for both the dog and the groomer. If grooming isn’t done properly, the dog will surely feel uncomfortable and may even cause problems to its health.

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Roslyn. Your dog looks like mine to a tee. I believe yours is male, mine female. Aren’t they beautiful. Do you know what breeds are in your dog. Mine is so smart and motherly. We have been tod her line, since owner had mom and dad, which she came from. She is very close to me. Wanted to have her groomed, but, like your dog this is her look. We have to cut the hair away from her eyes. Her legs and feet could use a trim. She is terrified of getting a nail clip. She watched me do mine and my husbands and put her little paw up to do hers. Got a few. I was amazed when she did that. Love her so much. Long time dog lover, georgie.

I sent you a message yesterday but I think I had my email incorrect. My dog looks exactly like yours. Was wondering about the breeds in yours. Thanks, georgie

This is good to know. I’ve got a Terrier mix too! I’m not entirely sure what breeds are in there, but he’s an adorable black dog at knee height. I’ll have to look up traditional terrier haircuts, but just as insurance I’ll take him to a professional and see how it’s done first. Thanks!

I didn’t know I should spend more time around his collar during my dog’s bath. I usually spend the most time scrubbing his head. I guess it makes sense that because, he wears his collar all the time, it would need a little more attention. I just hope I’m doing a good enough job that he is clean and bug free.

Thanks for the tip about how trimming the dog’s hair is best done shortly after bathing him. A friend of mine has a dog. She was wondering whether she ought to give it a trim. I’ll have to share this with her. Thanks for posting!

when was this article made i need to know this for a school project

I enjoyed reading your section Hair Cut. I also found that, finishing slicker brushes are great for making fringe hair look fluffy, but may not have long or sturdy enough bristles to do much good for general purpose brushing.

Hi Georgie,

I think Doc is a terrier mix, maybe a Wheaten or Tibetan.

Glad to see your dog is so brave for her nail trim! I hope her manicures have gotten easier since then.

Thanks for reading!

Hi Kallie,

This article was written on April 30th, 2013. Good luck on your school project!

We’re trying to beef up our pet bathing service at our pet resort and so I’m spending my evening reading tips and techniques for dog baths. I love the tip about brushing out the hair first before the bath and focusing on where the collar lays. Question: what do you do for a dog who seems to be going bald? Special shampoo? Anyway, thanks for the tips!

Dogs may shed a lot, but bald spots aren’t normal. The first step should be a trip to the vet to find out the cause, especially if your dog seems itchy or uncomfortable. Allergies, skin infection, Cushing’s disease, or parasites could be the culprit.

Thanks for reading!

Thanks for the helpful advice and tips for dog grooming basics. Even, I also love dog grooming amd i am now in this business that i prepare dog grooming apparel, Dog Grooming Smocks, Grooming Apparel, Grooming Aprons, Grooming Clothing and much more. They are really comfortable for dog groomers. Dog grooming keep you clean and dry.

My dog needs to take a bath, but washing him has been pretty tricky lately. It’s good to know these tips to make bath time easier. I thought that you made a good point about how I should spend a little extra time washing the area around his neck where his collar is usually attached. It seems that area would collect a lot of grease and bacteria, so I’ll remember that in the future.

Fantabulous piece of work. Thank you for sharing this information. I will definitely try these tips.

Thanks for the tips. My dog never likes going to the groomer, but I am not going to try and trim her fur myself. She is a little to much of a handful. However, I think she can handle a bath once a week from me. I did not know the steps of working from the top on down. That will help keep my dog a little cleaner.

This article is very good and informative. I was looking for an article like this to answer my queries.  and please click on our website

This is the exact information that I was looking for. Thank you for sharing your expertise!

My Wife and i just came across your article and saw a picture of your dog Doc. I was wondering if you could tell us what breed he is ? we adopted our dog Chewy from the animal shelter, we were told he was a mix between a Yorkie and a Shih Ztu. we notice he looks exactly like Doc so we were hoping you could shed some light on the subject for us.

Thank You very much.
Frank and Soledad.

Hi Francisco,

Doc is a Smoky Mountain Water Terrier. Just kidding! He’s a mutt, so we came up with a fake breed name for him.

We think he might be a Wheaten Terrier doodle mix. There’s definitely a lot of terrier in him from his looks and personality.

Thanks for reading!

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