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At Home Dog Spa: How to Groom a Dog the Professional Way

Kelly Sundstrom
June 13, 2017

Top tips on how to groom a dog at home -- make your pooch look like a million bucks!

Has your dog looked a little haggard lately? Your precious pooch deserves to feel good about himself, but you may not want to spend a fortune at the groomer's in order to clean him up. Learning how to groom a dog at home can solve your problem -- and still help your dog look and feel his best.


5 Steps for Dog Grooming

1) Bathe Your Dog

Wash your dog thoroughly before you begin grooming him to remove any excess dirt, oils and debris. Always use dog-friendly shampoos and products, such as Pet Head, that do not contain harsh chemicals that could irritate your dog's skin. If you're bathing your dog for the first time -- or looking for an easier way to do it -- then check out our step-by-step guide on how to give your dog a bath.

Once you're done, dry your dog off with towels or a hair dryer.

2) Detangle Your Dog

Brush out your dog's hair or fur using a detangling brush, like a Chris Christensen wood pin brush. Tangled and matted hair can prevent you from visualizing the end result, so detangling the hair ahead of time helps you avoid this confusion. Trim off any large mats with scissors.

3) Refine With Thinning Shears

After finishing with the clippers, use thinning shears to refine your dog's look and trim around delicate areas like the eyes and feet. National Certified Master Groomer Cheryl Purcell also uses thinning shears around the face to avoid leaving lines and marks like scissors would. "Instead of using scissors, thinning shears will leave a nice, soft trim," she explains.

"When you do it with the scissors, it's going to leave a sharper line." Thinning shears will give your dog a more natural look, and the design of the shears helps you avoid accidentally cutting your dog when you trim around those difficult areas like the nose, feet and eyes.

The video below demonstrates how you can use thinning shears to shape your dog's head. 

4) Trim the Nails

Your dog needs regular nail trimming to prevent foot problems. If you feel intimidated by the idea of cutting your dog's nails, never fear -- you might just need the right tool and a little know how. Start by purchasing properly designed dog nail trimmers, like the ones from the Millers Forge line. Never use nail trimmers designed for humans, which can actually split and damage dog nails.


Dr. Krista Magnifico from Jarretsville Veterinary Center helps dog owners feel confident when trimming their dogs' nails by teaching them how to hold a dog while trimming and how to angle the nail clippers. "Start by looking at the nails from the side," explains Dr. Magnifico. "The quick lives underneath and is in the fat part of the nail."

If you clip the quick, your dog can bleed, so Dr. Magnifico suggests angling the nail clippers so they face away from this area. She also stresses the importance of having someone hold the dog during nail trimming. "The most important part of trimming nails is having a good holder," she says. "If you don't have a good holder, it makes it stressful for everybody, and that's why dogs are so reluctant to have their nails trimmed."

This video explains how to properly trim your dog's nails at home.

For even more on nail trimming, read How to Clip Dog Nails -- A Pain-Free and Easy Guide.

Kelly Sundstrom is an award-winning journalist, author, artist and national special needs spokesperson. As the caretaker of two dogs, five cats and a bearded dragon, Sundstrom understands the importance of helping a pet look and feel his best.

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