Our little Cairn Terrier gets a little lion-like without semi-regular grooming. I love how she looks when I take her to the groomer – but at $40 a pop, it’s a rare luxury.
For the last few years, I’ve been giving her a haircut myself. Now, I know that I do not do nearly as good of a job as the professional. But, I don’t do terrible of a job, and best of all, the dog doesn’t complain about it. (A slice of cheese always makes things right with her!)
Getting Started with Dog Grooming
Equipment needs. First off, you’ll need some equipment. I bought some cordless rechargeable Wahl pet clippers several years ago. I paid less than $30 for them and I’ve gotten dozens of haircuts from them. Having the cordless option is somewhat convenient, but it seems like I forget to charge the clippers so often, that I end up using the clippers with the power cord anyway. The cord doesn’t really get in the way. Your clippers should have different length attachments. The smaller the number, the shorter the cut. I usually start with 1/4″ and then work my way shorter.
Scissors, brush and comb. A good brush and comb will help you comb out the loose fur. You’ll want to have scissors for trimming around ears and eyes (blunt tipped-scissors are the least dangerous).
Some knowledge of what you want your pet to look like. Do a little homework. Search online for videos or images (You Tube can be a good resource) for how to groom your breed of dog. Check out a basic dog grooming book at a library. And don’t forget to read the manual that comes with your clippers – it can be quite helpful.
Set aside one to two hours. Fortunately, my dog is very good about sitting still, but grooming her still takes awhile. It always seems like you think you are done, and then you see a stray patch of fur that didn’t get trimmed. Be prepared to spend some time getting your dog to look good.
A few other tips for DIY dog groomimg
If you have a well-behaved dog, you can groom it all by yourself. But it is very helpful to have either a grooming table that you can safely tether the dog to, or an extra set of hands that can help you hold the dog while you clip more difficult spots (like face and feet). I usually convince one of my kids or my husband to hold onto the dog.
Don’t wear dark pants when grooming a light colored dog. I often make this mistake, and I spend the rest of the day trying to get the dog hair off my pants. Be prepared for the fur to fly! It does make a mess.
If you have a dog that will escape (mine likes to hide under the bed), choose one room to groom the dog and close off the others. I prefer to use my front entry – it’s near an electric outlet, has laminate flooring that’s easy to sweep, and I can close it off from the rest of the house.
Take short little breaks. I find the vibration and sound of the clippers to be annoying at times, and the dog gets tired of being still, so we take a few mini breaks during the grooming so that she can shake and I can relax my hand.
Go easy on yourself! Some haircuts go better than others. It’s just fur. It grows back!
I prefer the quality of a professional dog grooming, but when money is tight, it’s nice to know that I can give my dog a semi-decent haircut right at home using equipment I already have.
Do you groom your dog? Got any tips?