DIY Dog Grooming Tips

Depositphotos 27495345 l 2015

With COVID-19, you may find yourself with a shaggy dog and not able or willing to go to the professional groomers. Thankfully, grooming your dog at home does not have to be a disastrous chore. Here are some tips that will keep your dog looking his best, even if you are staying in.

DIY Grooming Tips for Dogs

Exercise Before

If you have an energetic or wiggly dog, try to exercise them before you groom. It will make them calmer and more likely to sit still.

Clipping and Scissoring

If you are going to try your hand and clipping or scissoring your dog, be sure to use a good set of clippers and animal safe scissors (they should have a blunt tip!). You can find how-to videos online for your particular breed or cut. The main thing is to go slow, take breaks often if it’s a big clipper job (let your dog off the table, play a bit, get some water, etc.), and don’t worry if it’s not perfect. The point is to make your dog comfortable and to remove any mats. Any mats that are close to the skin should be removed with clippers, rather than scissors, to avoid injury.

Double Rinse

Rinse your dog and then rinse again! You want to get every bit of shampoo and conditioner. Product left in your dog’s coat can cause skin irritations.

Dry Thoroughly

This is something you may not think about since dogs get wet outside all the time and dry naturally. But a bath is different. You have soaked your dog through to the skin and it’s important to dry them thoroughly, especially long-haired dogs or dogs with undercoats. If you do not, hotspots can develop where moisture remains. (If you see your dog licking a spot obsessively a few days after a bath, check it out, it could be a developing hot spot!)

Trim Nails Regularly

It’s important to not let your dog’s nails get too long, especially if you have to trim them yourself right now. As the nail grows, the quick lengthens, and if you let them get too long, you are going to have to quick them all to get them back to where they should be – and no one, especially your dog, wants that. On average, their nails should be trimmed every three to four weeks, sometimes more often if they are not out running around and naturally trimming them. Is your dog “clicking” on your smooth floors? If so, he needs a trim. His nails should not touch the ground. If your dog is afraid of the pressure of clippers or you are a bit nervous about doing it, filing your dog’s nails once a week can at least help keep them down until you can make it to the groomers. Always have styptic powder on hand in case you do quick.

Don’t forget the Paws

If your long-haired dog has not been to the groomers lately, you may notice he is having a bit of trouble on your smooth floors. The long hair in the pads and toes is the culprit. Aside from better traction, trimming the pad hair makes the paws easier to wipe off when muddy and they don’t get burrs or thistles stuck as easily. The easiest way to trim paw hairs is with a pair of clippers. If your dog is sensitive to sounds, buy blunt-edged grooming scissors to clean them up instead.

Keep Equipment Clean

You want to keep your brushes and clippers clean. Ideally, everything should be cleaned after each use. This protects against a secondary infection from bacteria on the grooming utensils. They do make special dog brush cleaner, but any mild soap will do.

Even if you have a breed like a poodle that normally gets a puppy cut for low maintenance reasons, the above tips you can help keep him from matting until you can make it to the groomer for a proper cut, or maybe you will find you enjoy grooming and will learn to do it all yourself! Don’t forget YouTube is full of dog grooming how-to videos should you decide to do more advanced grooming. And remember, if you do cut your dog too short or maybe uneven, don’t worry, dogs don’t care, and it will grow back.


Hi Rob
As usual you’ve provided some great tips and explanations in the topic of grooming. I’m sure there are plenty of Pups out there with COVID-cuts at the moment.
Keep up the great service and congratulations on your 99th newsletter.

Fiona York

Thank you, so informative. I bought a set of clippers but there were no instructions. I foster dogs and though I'd try grooming him myself. I didn't realise what the plastic guards were for hence the first cut was close to the skin - was nowhere like cutting it, but it took a bit of getting used to. Thanks for your tips.


Good info - thanks Robert. I have a query regarding whiskers. How do you clip the face of your dog without disturbing the whiskers - is it important to avoid cutting or is it ok? I've tried googling this and some say it's not a problem while others say don't. I would have thought not to because they are surely sensitive to their touch but then how do you cut the face hair...?


Hi Annette, you can use scissors but need a dog that stays still. The alternative is not to trim that area. I'm not sure how long your dogs whiskers and facial hair is. Are the facial hairs a problem for your dog?