Pet Tips, Dog Health

Should You Learn to Groom Your Dog at Home?

December 14, 2022

It’s a good question! I originally posted this blog in 2020, in the midst of the Covid pandemic.  At the time, dog groomers were not being classified as essential workers.  Grooming salons that did remain open were often urging owners to forgo regular salon grooming, at least temporarily.  What was an owner to do?  Regular grooming is an important part of proper pet care.  Is it worth it to learn to groom your dog at home?  

That depends!

What type of grooming does your dog require on a regular basis?  Just a quick brush and a nail trim, or something more complex like a haircut?  How familiar/comfortable are you, and your dog, with grooming tools?  A person who is inexperienced with a specific tool, paired with a dog who may be unfamiliar, or even fearful, of said tool could be a recipe for disaster.  Is your dog anxious, old, hyperactive, sick, or otherwise compromised in any way?  Some dogs, more so than others, can really benefit by being groomed by someone with a steady, experienced, hand.

Self Sufficiency

I’ve always been a proponent of owners being at least somewhat self-sufficient when it comes to their pets’ personal hygiene.  Grooming our dogs on a regular basis can be an awesome way to spend some quality time with our pets.  I joke that I groom my dogs myself because no professional groomer would spend as much time as I do stopping to rub their bellies.  Nor would they tell them how handsome they are nearly as many times as I do.

Spending time grooming our dogs can double as a home check up.

It can be easy to miss medical issues that may lay hidden your dog’s fur.  Especially if you have a long haired dog!  Back when my papillon, Kitsune, broke his tail he never showed any signs of being in pain.  I discovered his newly kinked tail tip during one of his regular weekly grooming sessions!  Other things to look out for can include any new lumps and bumps, fleas and other parasites, new skin or fur abnormalities, hidden injuries, etc.

But what does basic grooming consist of and what, if anything, would be better left to the pros?

At the very least, brushing your dog on a regular basis is a great thing to do at home.  A lot of dogs don’t enjoying having their teeth brushed at first, but dental health is really important, so getting some kind of dental care established at home is ideal too.  If you, and/or your dog, aren’t ready to jump right to regular teeth brushing, consider at least offering healthy dental chews and perhaps using a dental spray while you work towards getting your canine pal used to his/her toothbrush.  Depending on how often your dog needs to be bathed, doing that at home can be advantageous too.  I tend to bathe my dogs at least once every other week.  I’d personally hate to have to take them to the groomers that often.

What about cutting nails and hair at home?

I cut my dogs’ nails at home, but I totally understand why some owners choose not too.  I’m pretty confident with a pair of nail clippers (and a nail dremel when it comes to Kitsune).  I trim Kitsune’s hair at home too (and once in awhile the fur on the bottoms of Fen’s feet).  But I had some experience with cutting dog’s hair even before I got Kitsune.  I really enjoy grooming my dogs myself, but don’t recommend people who have never done it before jump right into giving their dog(s) home haircuts.  At best, your first dog haircut will probably look pretty rough.  At worst, wiggly dogs can be hurt by clipper blades wielded by inexperienced hands.

What it really all comes down to is what level of grooming you and your dog are comfortable with doing at home.

That will, of course, vary from person to person, and dog to dog.  Grooming is important, but so is safety!  If you’re not comfortable clipping your dog’s nails or hair at home, that’s ok.  If you can’t get to a groomer, veterinarians usually offer basic grooming services such as nail trims and emergency haircuts (removing mats, etc.).

Do your best when it comes to grooming your pets.  If something feels outside of your, or your dog’s, comfort zone don’t be afraid to call in the experts!  Learning to groom your dog at home can be advantageous in so many ways, but don’t risk accidently hurting your dog if you’re not 100% comfortable grooming at home.  Basic tasks such as bathing, brushing teeth, and brushing are easier to do at home.  Things like clipping nails and haircuts can require a bit more skill, and present a bit more risk if you make a mistake.

Comment below – we always love to hear from our readers!  Do you groom your dog at home normally, or take them to someone for grooming?

home dog groom

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  • Reply Angela April 17, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    Bella gets so offended when we try to trim her nails or brush her out. I love your mention of using grooming time as a “checkup,” though. As my baby girl ages, I’m always looking for any oddities like lipomas and bumps, when it’s time for belly rubs.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack April 18, 2020 at 4:43 pm

      Yeah Kit has a few small lipomas now. He’s 11 and I’m always on the lookout for that type of stuff. I’m glad I got my two as puppies so I could get them used to grooming when they were still young. Kit has long fur and Fen sheds a ton, so I’m always thankful that they are good about allowing me to brush them. Thanks for your comment!

  • Reply Ruth Epstein April 17, 2020 at 3:12 pm

    I clean Layla’s teeth twice a day and as for grooming, oy vey Ms Wigglebutt, I have been at the moment trimming her fur so that it wont get matted till the groomers open. I am not worried about her nails as she walks a lot on sidewalks which helps them stay short.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack April 18, 2020 at 4:46 pm

      I’ve always been a bit envious of owners’ who can keep their dog’s nails short just by walking them. Even when we lived in the city and walked a lot on the pavement I still had to trim my boys’ nails pretty often. Sounds like a good plan to make sure Layla doesn’t get any mats until you can get her into a groomer. Hopefully all this corona virus stuff starts to let up soon. Stay safe!

  • Reply Karla April 17, 2020 at 9:53 pm

    I used to enjoy cutting Naomi’s hair and giving her cool doos! It was fun for us both! Is that Kit’s fur on your feet?

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack April 18, 2020 at 4:49 pm

      Naomi’s mohawk was the best! Yeah that’s Kit’s fur, I just gave him a haircut last weekend. Hope you’re having a good weekend!

  • Reply The Dash Kitten Crew April 19, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    I can believe that groomers are not happy to work with dogs (or any pets) right now. This is no joke, this will not go away so doing dog grooming at home is absolutely the way to go.

    People needs to realise that lockdown means pet owners stay alive to tend to the pets they love. (Those protesters give me the creeps how many of them are ill already??? Ugh!) Grooming time with your pet can be a fun bonding time and, as you say, time to give them a useful checkup to keep them healthy.

    PS I LOVE the damp Kitsune picture. Oddly enough, he reminds me here of Kristofferson in Fantastic Mr Fox by Wes Anderson.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack April 20, 2020 at 10:00 am

      For sure! I totally understand groomers not wanting to work with the public right now. I’ve never been more relieved that I groom my dogs at home. I know, though, that’s easier said then done for some. Not all dogs are as good about grooming as my two little ones are. Hopefully owners who can’t groom at home can at least keep their pets comfortable/mat free until the lock down ends.

      The pupper in the tub getting a bath is actually Fenrir. Kitsune is the cutie up top with the dirt on his face, lol. I totally see the similarities between Fen and Kristofferson! It’s funny that we named our first dog Kitsune, fox in Japanese, and now I get so many comments about how Fen looks like a fox.

  • Reply Beth April 20, 2020 at 11:26 am

    Luckily, two of my dogs went to the groomers in early March, so they are okay for another month, especially if we keep up with brushing them. In the past, I’ve trimmed both of them in between appointments, so I think they will be okay. We can clip their nails at home, but our other dog has to go to the vet for that.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack April 21, 2020 at 5:56 pm

      I guess you lucked out taking them in March before all the shut downs! Keeping up with brushing should help for sure – I know it does for Kit when I put off trimming his fur. Doing nails at home is awesome if you can, but I know some dogs really hate having it done! Thankfully vets are still open, and from what I can tell are doing their best to still see patients while also maintaining social distancing.

  • Reply [email protected] April 20, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    I did cut my husband’s hair, and I’ve ‘tidied’ my three, poodle-mix pups (or some types of long, curly-haired breeds). I do get nervous trimming their nails, but it must be done for their comfort. Also, as you say, it is an excellent way to check their health. Tick season is upon us!

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack April 21, 2020 at 5:58 pm

      I cut my fiance’s hair too, and my own! Luckily I’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years, and it’s so convenient not to have to go to a salon every time one of us needs a trim. Trimming nails can be nerve wracking for sure. I use a dremel on Kit because he hates having his trimmed, but luckily he’s really good about letting me dremel them and, for me at least, it’s easier to avoid the quick with a dremel.

  • Reply Sweet Purrfections April 20, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    I choose to groom my cats myself. They are Persians, so grooming is a must. They don’t necessarily like it, but I’ve learned ways to trim their nails and the tools needed for combing and brushing. They also need special care with their eye drainage.

    • Reply Michelle & The Paw Pack April 21, 2020 at 6:05 pm

      That’s awesome! I understand why not all owners choose to groom at home but I think it really is ideal if you can. I think grooming is a must for most, if not all, furry pets, to one degree or another. For me it’s so much easier to groom at home then to have to make appointments and travel to groomers, and after the initial tool purchases it’s cheaper too!

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