10 Grooming Tips For New Dog Owners

POPSUGAR Photography/Hedy Phillips
POPSUGAR Photography/Hedy Phillips

Dog grooming is an art form, to say the least. I've had a dog for 14 years, and I still can't get her to let me brush her teeth or trim her nails — I have a professional do it for me. So when I went to the National Dog Show, Presented by Purina, last year and found a few dog handlers who were also groomers, I was quick to ask them for tips. They shared stories about what they've learned during their many years as groomers, and I've compiled those tips into the top 10 things dog owners should know.

  1. Don't wait too long between visits. If you only groom your dog once a year, the dog's not going to get used to it, which makes each grooming visit stressful. Once your pup is into the routine, grooming becomes something he is used to and maybe even enjoys.
  2. Use a meat-flavored toothpaste. Brushing dogs' teeth can be tricky, but using a toothpaste in a flavor you know she likes can make it much easier on both of you.
  3. Start when they're little. If you train your dog from a young age that daily hair or fur brushing and teeth brushing are a thing, he'll get used to it quicker.
  4. Know your limits at home. Though you can give your dog a trim at home, be aware that the professionals will do a much cleaner cut and know how to handle dogs in a stressful situation.
  5. Train your puppy to lie on his side. It's easier to groom your pup if he's comfortable on his side, so start him doing it at a young age. He'll be comfortable on his side and ready for all the massages you want to give him before and after any sort of grooming.
  6. Brush all over. There's more to brush other than just a dog's back. You have to get all around and underneath everything to actually make a difference.
  7. Know what kind of grooming your dog needs. Depending on your dog's breed, you might need to pay more attention to certain aspects of grooming. Long-haired dogs may require different brushes for different parts of their body because of the thickness of the fur. Some breeds may also call for more than just shampooing because of all the fur. It's important to do research on your pup for home grooming.
  8. Be careful where you shampoo. Just like with humans, it's important to be careful not to get shampoo in your dog's eyes or nose. It burns! And it's dangerous.
  9. Rinse, rinse, rinse. If you're bathing your dog at home, make sure she's super rinsed out before calling it quits on bath time. Any kind of soap residue will lead to itchy skin, and no one wants that.
  10. Don't force it. If your dog is totally stressed out and just can't handle grooming, don't force it on him right away. Be aware of signs he's giving you that he's upset.