Grooming your dog can be messy, difficult, and downright unpleasant, but it can be even worse for both you and your pup when you’re making mistakes without realizing it.
Maybe you want to save some cash by doing the grooming yourself instead of relying on professionals. However, there’s a reason dog groomers charge what they do — they know what they’re doing.
Still, if you’re willing to learn and put in the effort, you can do a fairly good job of keeping your dog from looking too scruffy on your own. If you do decide to groom your dog yourself, here are a few mistakes you should avoid.
1. Failing to train your dog
If you want to groom your dog without causing anxiety, injury, or a mess, you absolutely must train your dog for grooming. That means starting as early in life as possible.
You should work on making sure your dog is comfortable with being touched on the face, paws, tail, and entire body. They also need to get comfortable with potentially buzzing or noisy grooming equipment.
They should also get accustomed to other people touching them, as you may wish to rely on a groomer someday, and you don’t want your dog to be fearful or nip.
Even for dogs adopted later in life, it’s important to get comfortable with grooming. Create as stress-free of an environment as possible, and give your dog plenty of praise and rewards while bathing and brushing teeth and fur.
Make it a positive experience, and be patient. Your dog may be nervous at first but keep at it. This will reduce the chance of your dog exhibiting anxious behavior that will make grooming miserable for you and your pooch.
2. Failing to brush before getting wet
This is especially important for dogs with long hair, which easily mats when getting wet. Long hair is also more likely to get tangled in water, which can make for some pretty painful brushing later on.
A quick brush before getting wet will loosen any dead hair tangled in the coat, which can prevent discomfort when you brush or cut your dog’s hair after the bath.
3. Failing to brush after getting wet
In addition to brushing before a bath, you must also brush after a bath.
This will be much easier and more painless if you’ve brushed beforehand, and it’s important because the bathing process can loosen more dead hair. These hairs can get tangled in the coat if they’re left there, so remember that brushing is always a before and after activity.
4. Not grooming in winter
Many dog parents worry that if they cut their dog’s hair in the colder months, their pups will be cold. So they go on without giving their dogs haircuts, but they also neglect other grooming responsibilities.
This results in severe matting before the warmer months even come around, and the only fix at that point is to give the coat a short shave, which is the opposite of what pet parents want in winter. Not to mention, the added fur length doesn’t help dogs stay that much warmer in winter.
Keep up with brushing and bathing, and at least give your dog’s coat a trim. This will help avoid matted, tangled hair while letting your pup’s natural coat keep them warm.
You don’t need to give your dog a full shave, but keep up with the maintenance of their fur.
5. Being inconsistent
Just because it’s not time for a bath, haircut, and full-on grooming session doesn’t mean you can let up on the basic things like brushing.
Some dog parents don’t plan on giving their dog a grooming session during a certain time of the year. Or, they may go several weeks without the need to give their dog a bath or haircut. But it’s still important to keep up with the motions of grooming so dogs don’t forget what it feels like. Doing so will result in less stress when you do get around to a full grooming session.
6. Not being thorough
Brushing your dog’s back is fairly easy. Unfortunately, many pet parents forget that there’s an entire dog body attached to that back that needs brushing.
Fur around the belly, armpits, tail, ears, neck, and face all need care, too, especially because these parts are where pests and parasites like to infest.
Caring for these places on your dog’s body and removing tangles and mats won’t just help them look good. It will help maintain their health, too.
7. Cutting nails incorrectly
Nail trimming is a challenge for most dog parents, and it’s one of the reasons you should focus on getting your dog used to having their paws handled during training.
Don’t rush into nail clipping, and make sure you use sharp clippers. Replace them regularly. Dull clippers crush nails instead of cutting them, and they can slip and lead to injury.
Make sure you know how to spot the quick of the nails. If your dog has light-colored nails, you’ll probably be able to see the quick as a pink circle around each nail. If your dog has dark nails, the quick might only be visible as a black circle when you cut into the nail.
Go slowly and do not cut the quick, as it will cause bleeding and pain. If you’re unsure of how to do this, ask your veterinarian or a professional groomer for advice.
8. Shaving too close
Cutting too close to the skin with clippers can leave razor burn, especially if the blades are dull or broken. Razor burn can become infected when left untreated.
Always make sure your clippers have sharp, new blades, as these are less likely to catch and skip. Not only will this protect your dog’s skin, but it will help you cut your dog’s coat more evenly.
9. Getting shampoo in the eyes
This can happen when dog parents are being careless or moving too quickly. Take special care when bathing the face and head.
While many modern dog shampoos are safe for contact with the eyes, they’re still likely to cause discomfort, and that irritation can make bath time all the more stressful.
Go slowly, rinse thoroughly, and make sure to avoid or cover your dog’s eyes.
10. Letting the dog outside right after grooming
Lots of dogs go wild after bath time, even if they’re thoroughly dry. One of the first things they like to do is run and roll in things.
There are lots of reasons dogs might do this, but it’s important that you keep your dog inside immediately after grooming unless you want them to come back in covered in dirt and whatever else they can roll in outside. You’ll have to start the whole grooming process over if that happens. Give your dog time to work the zoomies out indoors before you let them outside.