Dog Grooming Checklist For Beginners

Jacqui Coombe

Grooming is more than just brushing your dog. It also includes bathing, clipping nails, and cleaning the teeth and ears. A well-rounded at-home grooming routine will maintain your dog’s shiny coat and well-being (and keep that awful doggy smell at bay!).

This dog grooming checklist is here to help you give your pooch a professional grooming at home to keep your dog looking and feeling great!

Grooming tools

Before you get started, you need the right tools! Good dog grooming equipment is necessary for doing the job right. You may find that most items you already have at home, while others you may have to purchase from your local pet store. The good part is that you don’t need to spend a lot when it comes to grooming equipment.

Whatever the breed of dog you have, these essential dog grooming tools will give you the right start:

  • Dog brush: A slicker brush is a good all-round brush for dogs. If your dog has long hair, a detangling pin brush will work best. If you have a short-haired dog, then opt for a curry brush.
  • Dog comb: A medium-toothed comb is a good all-purpose dog comb, but get a fine toothed comb is your dog has particularly short and thin hair or, if your dog has long, matted fur, opt for a wide toothed comb.
  • Dog shampoo and conditioner: Always use a pH-balanced shampoo and conditioner that is made for dogs. Never use human shampoo/conditoner as they can irritate your dog’s skin and cause infection.
  • Toothbrush: You can use an old toothbrush at home or get a specialised pet toothbrush from your pet store.
  • Dog-friendly toothpaste: Dog toothpaste is formulated to clean your dog’s teeth, freshen breath and prevent any dental conditions.
  • Dog toenail clippers and styptic powder: Use to safely clip your dog’s toenails. The powder will help stop bleeding if you accidentally clip too close to the quick.
  • Electric fur clipper: Some dogs may need to be trimmed with an electric clipper. If that’s true for your dog, you need a good clipper and blades including a No. 10 Oster blade.
  • Pet ear cleanser and cotton balls or gauze: To safely clean out your dog’s ears.
  • Old towels: These will come in handy when it comes to drying your dog after their bath!
  • Treats: Lastly, keeping some dog treats on hand can help to calm and distract a jumpy dog.

Step by step guide to grooming your dog

1. Brush your dog

Start off by brushing your dog with your grooming brush and comb, making sure to get rid of any knots and tangles. If your dog need a trim using electric clippers, do this now. This is also a time to check your dog’s skin for any unusual lumps, bumps or signs of fleas, ticks or irritation on the body.

2. Prepare warm water

Next, prepare your water at your chosen wash station. This may be your bath tub or outdoor doggy pool. Having a hose and shower head attachment works best when washing your dog. Make sure the water is lukewarm and at a steady stream. If inside, lay out some towels on the floor.

3. Coat your dog in water

Thoroughly wet your dog’s coat starting from the head down to the tail, not forgetting the belly and legs. Be careful to not let the water run into their eyes or ears.

Now is the time to train your dog that bath time is enjoyable! You can do this by slowly massaging their body and by offering a treat and lots of praise along the way.

4. Shampoo and condition

Apply your special dog shampoo starting at the chest and working outwards in circular motions until you reach their undercoat. Keep your dog calm and comfortable by taking things slow and easy.

5. Rinse

After shampooing your dog, rinse off with water and your fingers to ensure all traces of the shampoo is rinsed off completely. If using a conditioner, repeat step 4 and then rinse off again, making sure to reach in under the belly and under the armpits so that all traces are gone.

6. Dry

As soon as your done washing your pup, grab a towel and throw it over them like a cape, gently rubbing their fur as you dry them off. Make sure to gently dry out the ears and in between the paw pads and toes. If it’s a sunny day, let them run around and air out!

7. Trim nails

Trimming your dog’s nails after a bath will ensure the nails are softer and easier to clip – and less likely to splinter. Clipping a dog’s toenails is necessary because if they grow too long they not only can break but may curl back into the pad which can be painful for your dog and lead to infection. So what’s an appropriate length to keep a dog’s nails? You should be able to slip a plastic credit card beneath each nail when your dog is standing; if the card won’t fit, the nail is too long. If you’re unsure about clipping your dog’s nails, your local vet will be happy to do this for you and show you the right technique for doing it at home.

8. Clean ears

Apply a soothing dog ear cleaner as per instructions on the bottle. These cleansers will remove any excess hair or gunk in the ear canal, preventing infections and inflammation.

9. Brush teeth

Using a soft nylon bristle toothbrush and toothpaste formulated for dogs, gently hold down your dog’s bottom lip and brush the teeth in circular motions. Do your best! Some dogs may take to teeth brushing better than others. If your dog dislikes it, you can maintain oral hygiene by giving them a dental treat and visiting your vet for regular oral health check-ups.

Grooming your dog is essential for their overall health. You should groom your dog whenever necessary. This will depend on the type of dog breed you have. Bathing is generally needed whenever your dog starts to get smelly or greasy or they’ve accumulated mud/dirt on their coat. Avoid frequent bathing as this can strip their skin and fur and may cause problems such as skin inflammation. Generally, a good grooming once a month is all that’s needed to keep your pup well-pampered!

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Jacqui Coombe has been a prolific reader since childhood, and now channels her love of the written word into writing content on a range of topics from business, marketing and finance to travel and lifestyle.

Santa Monica, CA
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