Home Pet Grooming

By Marea Tully

Marea Tully owned and operated Marea's Pet Salon for over 30 years and is now the International Grooming Consultant for the Andis Company. She has won many grooming awards, including Best all Around Groomer, Groom Team Member 94, and Best in Show European International Winner. She serves the grooming industry as a judge, and she demonstrates and lectures in seminars throughout the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Marea has served as president of New England Pet Grooming Professionals (NEPGP) and International Professional Groomers (IPG). She has won the Cardinal Crystal Achievement Awards for Judge of the year, Congeniality and is a three time winner of the Journalist of the Year. Marea has groomed and handled Poodles, Bichons, and Terriers for the confirmation ring. She was the columnist of The Grooming View in Groomer to Groomer Magazine for more than eight years.

The Three T’s of Grooming
Anyone can be successful grooming a dog at home. Just follow the three t’s for grooming—tools, teacher and technique. The best grooming tool for breeds that continue to grow hair is the most powerful clipper you can find. For double coated breeds, purchase a single speed professional clipper. The right teacher is Andis’ home dog grooming video, which teaches you the basics of grooming and shows you, step by step, how to groom. The right technique involves just five steps: brush, wash, dry, comb and clip.

A powerful clipper is essential to a good grooming. Also, a lighted clipper, which is great for spotting cuts, sores and warts on older dogs makes it easier to see fleas and ticks, so you can get rid of them as you’re grooming. A lighted clipper is better for dark colored dogs, and makes it easier to see when you’re clipping under the body and in hard to reach areas. The light helps you get a cleaner clip, too.

Attachment combs give you an even length for the clipped coat and let you shape longer styles than you can with fixed metal blades. They’re also less expensive than the metal blades. Generally, the shorter attachment combs are for the faces and bodies, while the longer attachment combs are used for the legs. Choose your combs, according to your length preferences, which are generally on the packaging. Andis has a guide on its web site to show you which attachment combs are used with different areas of the dog. There are even suggestions for different breeds.

There are several home dog grooming video's that gives step by step instructions on grooming. It will give you the basic steps. Then, read a breed specific grooming book, which you can find at a library or bookstore or perhaps you may find specific information on the internet.

Begin by brushing your dog to get rid of the tangles, which will only set tighter if they aren’t brushed out before bathing. Brushing also removes the undercoat, so the hair will dry faster.

Next, wash the dog, so he will have a clean coat, which is easier to clip, smoother to work with, smells better and is nicer to touch. Washing is followed by drying. Air dry short haired or double coated breeds, or use a blow dryer. Use a blow dryer while brushing the long haired single coated breeds.

Comb the hair, once it is dry, to remove small tangles. The combing step maintains the style longer.

Finally, clip the dog. Shorter hair is easier to maintain and more comfortable for the dog.

More Tips
Groom your dog on a regular schedule. Every four to six weeks is ideal to maintain coat length so that the dog’s coat doesn’t mat. Minimizing tangles is easier for both the dog and the groomer.

A dog that is uncomfortable or antsy while being groomed usually just needs some distractions. Turn on the television or radio, so the sound of the clipper and dryer is less noticeable. The noise often scares him more than anything else. Also, let him sniff the equipment. Don’t just grab the clipper and get started. Let him smell the clipper first.

Turn the clipper on, so he can hear it and get used to the noise. Move the clipper along his back without cutting any hair at first until the dog accepts it. Then go ahead and clip the hair. Dogs are least likely to object to the back being touched.

If possible, use a grooming table or the top of a washing machine with a rubber bath mat on it. If you try to groom on the floor, the dog is likely to run away. Moving the grooming to a higher surface will save your back. The pet needs to feel that all four feet are secure and the mat will keep the dog from slipping. Loops that suction to the wall or bathtub are great for keeping the dog from jumping out of the tub or on to the floor.

If the dog is antsy, have someone else hold the dog while you’re working. If it’s a puppy or small breed, try grooming the dog in your lap.

Do mind your dog's temperament and condition

Try to give your pet a good workout before you do any grooming. "If he's all hyper and you try to shave him, you're not going to have much success," says Minaker. "Take him for a good walk or get him tired from playing, so that he'll be calmer when you're doing it." While you're doing the actual grooming, be as firm as you can, talk in a calm voice, and have treats at the ready.

Speak softly and soothingly to the dog. Remember, if you don’t feel confident, he will sense your insecurity and won’t relax. Like anything, the more practice you have, the better you’ll become. You’ll soon be grooming your dog like a pro!