With all dog grooming parlours having to remain closed at the moment, more and more dog owners are reaching for the scissors and clippers to try and keep their pets knot-free and comfortable. Of course the majority are not professional groomers so the first session can be somewhat nerve wracking! This is why I’ve decided to write a blog for all those pet owners out there who have no idea where to start, what to use or even how to keep their best friend as calm as possible whilst being pampered and preened.
First things first, don’t worry too much about achieving the exact same look your dog has straight after seeing the professional groomer! As long as his fur is maintained and kept tidy he won’t care that he doesn’t have the “KC standard clip”! Ensure you groom him daily to keep on top of any knots and tangles and always inspect his coat, paws and ears for foreign objects and ticks. Keep and eye on your dog's ears and give them a clean with either cotton wool or ear cleaning wipes if they need it.
Secondly, keep an eye on your dog's nails and trim them if necessary. Be very careful when trimming as you don’t want to get too close to the quick as cutting this is painful and will cause bleeding (see diagrams below). Some people like to trim using nail clippers, others prefer to file the nails down but it’s all down to personal preference and what you and your dog finds most comfortable. Walking your pooch on pavement (when it’s not a hot day!) may help keep his nails in shape too.
Next up is the clipping! Not all dogs need to be clipped but if your pooch has the type of long fur that needs regular clipping then you’ll need a set of dog clippers and a helping hand. Be calm with your dog and speak to him softly so he knows there’s nothing to worry about. If he’s used to being clipped at the groomers he shouldn’t be too afraid of the sound of the clippers but it helps to desensitise him to the buzzing before starting so he feels as content as possible. If possible, ask a family member to hold your dog by the collar, giving him plenty of fuss whilst you begin clipping. If you don’t have anyone to help you and you don’t own a grooming harness, simply attach his lead to his collar and then to something sturdy enough to keep him still whilst you work. Take it slowly and don’t rush! Use a longer attachment to begin with so that you don’t take off too much too soon, you can always take more fur off later but you can’t add any back on! Be extra careful when grooming around the harder to reach areas and around his eyes. I tend to start from the head and work my way down and then work on the belly last as my spaniel usually falls asleep by the time I get to his belly so it’s easy to do whilst he snoozing on his side! If your dog is particularly grubby it's best to give him a wash before as well as after as it will prevent mud or knots getting caught in the clippers which can be very painful.
Give your pup a bath after his clip to get rid of all the loose fur and massage his skin using either your fingertips or a Kong Zoom Groom. The Zoom Groom can be used on wet or dry fur but I love using it with the shampoo to give my dogs a nice soothing massage whilst working the shampoo around at the same time. Once you have rinsed all the shampoo off you can dry your dog using just a towel or a hair dryer with the heat setting turned off - if your dog isn't afraid of the dryer! If he is simply towel dry him and keep him warm and cosy until he dries fully.
Just remember, the key thing is your dog's safety so taking it slow, talking to him softly and offering a treat now and again will make him feel much more relaxed. Plugging in an Adaptil diffuser before and during the grooming session may also help keep your pup calm. Smearing some dog-safe peanut butter or Kong paste on the bathroom wall during bath-time and nail clipping also works a treat for some dogs so use your imagination and try offering your dog something tasty to keep him distracted! This will not only take his mind off the grooming but should also keep him still for longer, meaning you can take your time and will be less likely to make any mistakes.
Finally, if in doubt, don't start clipping away if you don't feel confident enough and just do the best you can to keep your pet as comfortable and matt-free as possible until you are able to book him in to see a professional groomer.