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Top at-home dog grooming tips

Dog Grooming Tips How and Why

Grooming Your Dog is Extremely Important

I find many dog owners are not aware of the importance of grooming. However, overall it is as important as walking to heel and recall. Whenever I see a client whose dog will not accept or allow the owner to groom, then I know the dog has scant respect for the owner. This is a dog that does not believe the owners have the right or position to groom them. A recipe for disaster. Grooming your puppy or adult dog is vital for a number of reasons. It helps create a strong bond between you and your dog.


Wolves and wild dogs mutually groom each other, as a way of showing family and pack unity. It also indicates if the dog accepts you as a controller of resources. See the Alpha Myth Grooming also allows you to touch your dog all over. Allowing you to check for thorns, injuries, or lumps. It also gets the dogs or puppy used to you handling them in this way. I see many dogs that do not allow their owners to groom them or give them medicine or a medication like eye or ear drops. This is a relationship and trust issue and stems back to when they are puppies, where they were not groomed or handled correctly.

Groom When Young

Start as soon as you get the dog. If it is a puppy, then initially use your hands to get the dog used to you touching and handling, it in a gentle and positive way. We even do this on our Puppy Classes Many dogs that I treat for object or bowl guarding issues, will not allow the owner to groom Therefore early introduction to grooming can be vital to eliminate possession aggression or food guarding in later life. This is especially important with gundog breeds as they have a preponderance to guard Your puppies and adult dogs should be used to having their heads mouth and bodies touched when you then wish to remove something it isn't seen as confrontational. From the day you get your dog, either as a puppy or adult dog, brush his teeth, play with his flews (the floppy bits on the upper lip). Open his/her mouth, check out the tonsils, look down the throat, do this in a positive fun way with lots of praise and the occasional treat. I do not believe that I can be the leader of the pack, therefore, I do not see grooming as a dominant or controlling mechanism. I see grooming is a basic need.

Why Groom

Dog grooming is one of your dog's basic needs and an important part of dog ownership. Just like people, dogs need physical maintenance to look and feel their best. Fortunately, dogs do not need to bathe as often as people, but you do need to learn how much grooming your dog actually needs and keep it on a schedule.

Generally, a dog’s grooming needs depend on the breed and hair type. If your dog has a skin, ear or nail condition, follow your veterinarian’s instructions regarding grooming your dog.

It is also important to use the appropriate grooming tools Here are some dog grooming basics to remember.

  • Don't overdo bathing. Once every week or two weeks is typically enough; Bathing too often can dry out the skin and deprive it of natural oils. Unless you use really good shampoo and skin care.

  • Avoid using human shampoos on your pet as these are not manufactured for the type of hair and skin that dogs have. Human shampoo products may dry your dog's skin, and remove too much of the natural oils needed to promote healthy skin and fur. Instead, buy and use a shampoo specifically for use on your pet.

  • Apply shampoo from your hands rather than pouring it onto the dogs fur. this allows you to apply the shampoo more easily to the areas that need it the most.

  • Do not allow water into the dogs ears this can cause medical problems such as infections or irritation. gently squeeze his ears shut to keep the water out.

  • You occasionally may need to pluck ear hairs. Especially for dogs like Spaniels that have silky hair and floppy ears. Ask a vet or professional groomer to show you how to pluck them safely and correctly, without hurting the dog.

  • Ear powder can make this process quicker and simpler, it allows you to easily grip the slippery ear hair.

  • Some dogs really need to be dried. If you allow them to dry naturally, they may retain that doggy smell. A normal hair dryer can be fine for this but make sure it is set for cool.

How Often To Groom

  1. Long-haired dogs usually require daily brushing to prevent matting and tangling of hair.

  2. Medium-haired dogs may be prone to matting and tangles and should be brushed at least twice weekly.

  3. Short-haired dogs can go up to a week in-between brushing.

Regardless of hair type, you can brush your dog daily - especially if they enjoy it. More frequent brushing during shedding season can help prevent hair build-up and excess shedding.


Keeping your dog’s feet trimmed up nice and neat is beneficial, It will help reduce the amount of tar, thorns, seeds, salt, etc. that will get caught in the feet. All of which can be uncomfortable, and in some cases dangerous to your dog. It also looks a lot neater. Use scissors to trim over the top of your dog’s foot and even with the pads on the bottom of the foot. Try to trim in between the toes or the pads of the foot. Do this very carefully


Keeping the inside surfaces of your dog’s ears clean, will not only feel good to your dog but is a good way to help prevent ear infections. Examining the outside surface will also alert you to the presence of seeds, ticks, fleas, or thorns. Clean your dog's ears about once a week. You can use either a cotton ball or a piece of gauze with ear cleaning solution, or you can use a baby wipe wrapped around your finger.

Don’t use water because it doesn't evaporate very easily. Wipe the inside surface of your dog’s ear, going down only as far as your finger easily fits.

Don’t use Q-tips or try to put anything further down the ear canal. You could cause an infection or painful ear injury.

If you notice any discharge or a bad smell from your dog’s ears, get advice from your Vet.

Food and Treats What you feed your dog can make a vital difference to the skin and coat of your dogs and pups.

A dull lifeless scurfy coat can be affected by food and allergic reactions to what you feed and treat your dogs.

All my dogs have shiny healthy coats. I believe owners do not always realise that the food and treats we feed our dogs have a massive difference to their health and wellbeing.

Stan Rawlinson March 2013 Updated 2016