Grooming your dog can make them look great - but there are also important health and welfare benefits. You can visit a professional groomer, but many people choose to do it themselves (and this might be necessary in some areas due to the pandemic). So, if this is you, here are some tips to help.
Why groom your dog?
Grooming helps keep your dog's coat and nails tidy, removes knots, and ensures they look well cared for.
But there are some other, less obvious, benefits - such as removing old, damaged and dead hair and skin cells; preventing matts from forming; and distributing natural oils through the coat. Grooming can also remove unwanted objects from your dog's coat, like grass seeds.
Also, it's a great bonding opportunity. Many dogs love to be brushed and (if they do enjoy grooming), it can be a lovely time to spend with them.
How to groom
Starting early is key - if your dog becomes used to grooming early in their life, it'll generally make the process much easier. Start with short sessions and reward them with treats for being calm. You can start with the areas your dog likes to be groomed (usually the head, neck and body) and slowly move to other areas (like the belly, feet and tail).
It's good to have a variety of brushes and combs depending on your dog's coat. Find out what sort of brush might suit your dog by reading our tips on the Knowledgebase.
Gently brush the hair in the direction of the hair's growth. It's often helpful to start with a soft brush or wider tooth comb/brush to loosen any tangles in the coat and then, if necessary, move to a finer tooth comb/brush to work through anything more stubborn.
As well as brushing the main body, you should make sure to check in hard to see places such as between your dog's toes and in and around their ears.
If your dog becomes uncomfortable at all, you should stop - and if you are uncertain about trimming something safely (e.g., a knot or hair overhanging the eyes) it might be safest to have a veterinarian, veterinary nurse or professional groomer help you.
Trimming the nails
You can ask your veterinarian to show you how to trim your dog's nails and how to tell when they need clipping. As a guide, they should be trimmed just before they start to touch the ground when the dog is standing or walking. If they're touching the ground, they're too long.
Make sure to check the dew claws as well which are on the inside of a dog's leg - these aren't worn down by exercise and can cause problems if they get too long.
How often you should bathe your dog depends on the individual dog, including their activity (if they regularly swim in the sea or roll in the mud, they probably need bathing more often.).
This can be done in your bath or shower with warm water if safe - hydrobaths (including mobile ones) are also an option. In warm weather, you can use a garden hose outside on low pressure.
You should also use a dog shampoo that's suitable for your dog. No matter what method you use, always reward your dog, especially if they're reluctant.
Other grooming considerations
Other things to think about include whether your dog needs their coat trimmed or clipped, as well as how to groom your dog if they are double-coated.
This guide just scratches the surface, so we encourage you to read more on our Knowledgebase.
Some dogs simply don't like to be groomed. If your dog is anxious, using a professional groomer might be the best option.
We recommend you choose a reputable groomer who uses gentle handling and rewards to help make your pet feel comfortable - you can also ask your veterinarian for recommendations.
You may also be able to attend classes on how to groom your dog safely and comfortably.