dog grooming guide

The Ultimate Grooming Guide – How to take proper care of your dog


Dog grooming is an responsibility of every owner

Besides bathing and brushing it involves paw, nail, ears, and teeth care that is necessary for a healthy and clean dog.

If you are a dog owner, we probably don't have to tell you that they can be a handful. But with everything your pooch is giving you, he's completely worth it.

Besides proper nutrition, regular exercises, and vet check-ups, proper dog grooming also plays a part in your pooch's overall health. Most people think that grooming involves only bathing and brushing when it is in fact so much more.

Complete head to toe groom will give you an opportunity to check your dog and see if everything is healthy. Furthermore, if there are some changes, regular spruce up will give you a chance to notice them on time and react.

In this guide, you will find everything you need to know about grooming, and taking proper care of your dog's appearance. Grooming a dog involves bathing, brushing, paw, nail, teeth, and ear care. We will tackle each of these subjects to help you keep your dog healthy and looking his best.


Dog Bath
Chapter 1

Bathing A Dog

Although dogs aren't afraid of water, they aren't the biggest fans of bathing. Some owners prefer the services of a professional groomer because bath time can be rally hard. Still, you can teach your pooch to love bathing and make it an enjoyable routine for both of you.

Why bathe your dog?

The main reasons why your dog needs washing are dirt and unpleasant odor. Just when you think about all the places where your dog has been and rolled into, bathing seems like a very good idea. It will remove all the bacteria, loose hair, debris, and mud, moreover, it will keep the skin and coat healthy.

Still, different breeds have distinct coats and you have to consider your dog's type in order not to over bath him. Frequent washing can strip skin oils and create dull looking coat, dry, and flaky skin. For additional information check our article on how often to wash a dog.

why to bathe dog feature

Where to bathe your dog?

Consider your individual circumstances and pick a place where your dog will feel comfortable. In the end, this should be an enjoyable and stress-free experience for both of you.



Usually, large or medium-sized dogs may have problems getting into the bathtub, so backyard wash is the perfect solution. This way your dog can stand, without the danger of slipping and injury.You can use a garden hose, or fill buckets with lukewarm water. If you are using a hose, make sure that the water isn't too hot or cold. Also, make sure that the weather is warm and not windy since this will minimize the chances of a cold.



If your dog doesn't have problems with getting into the bathtub it can be a perfect place for a wash. To make it safe for your pet, place non-slip mat into the tub since dogs like to stand in secure places.

If you opt to soak your dog with shower head keep the water pressure low in order to keep your pooch comfortable. Also, make sure that the water is lukewarm and won't burn or be too cold for your pooch.


Professional Groomer

 If you don't have time to wash your dog at home, you can always pay a professional to do it. On the other hand, professionals can be expensive and create a dent in your house budget pretty soon

What type of shampoo to use?

We know that it can be tempting to use your nice smelling shampoo on your dog, but you shouldn't. Dogs have different skin pH levels from us, and our product can damage their skin and coat.

There is a variety of different pet shampoos that are specially made to keep dogs clean and smelling great. We advise you to look for:

Natrural Shampoo

Natural (Organic) Shampoo

Natural shampoos that will clean and nourish the coat and skin.

Shampoo & Conditioner

Shampoo & Conditioner

For long-haired breeds look for shampoos that also contain conditioner.

Shampoo for ichy skin

Shampoo For Ichy Skin

If your pooch has sensitive skin or skin problems talk with your vet, he may benefit from medicated dog shampoo.

Shampoo for Smelling Dog

Shampoo For Smelling Dog

If  your dog is odor, looking for a product with specific ingredient can control smelling

How to prepare your dog for the bath?

In order to have a relaxed and enjoyable bathing experience you first need to teach your pooch to associate washing with nice things.

Bathing can be scary, and that's why so many pooches don't like it and make it hard for owners. In order to have success free bathing experience at home follow these steps:

Step 1

Teach your dog to be comfortable with handling by stroking different parts of his body. It is important to praise and reward your dog during this process.

Start by gently patting him on the chest, shoulders, sides, and back, slowly working towards the legs. Try to lift his paws one at the time, like you will do during the bathing.

Continue this routine until your dog is comfortable with you handling him, and don't forget about praising and treats. This will make your dog less likely to react when you touch these areas during bathing.

Step 2

Introduce your dog with bathing equipment, let him sniff towels, shampoo, bucket and hose if you are bathing him outside. Let him stand on the non-slip mat, praise and reward him.

If you are washing him inside let your pooch get used to the bathtub, he can just stand there while you praise him. To get him used to the sound of running water, turn the shower head on low while he is in the bathroom. Of course, don't forget about treats and praise.

Step 3

Once you feel that your dog feels comfortable around bathing equipment and isn't afraid of water and bathtub you can proceed with the washing. Soak your dog and leather him while praising him and giving treats.

If you notice that he is feeling uncomfortable at any point, take a break and try to calm him using a soothing voice. When the bath is done, praise your pooch and give him more treats.

Chapter 2

Dog Brushing

Brushing your dog plays a big part in his overall appearance and health. Just like bathing, grooming is important for keeping your dog clean and his coat healthy. It can also be a great activity to strengthen your bond.

Why Brush Your Dog?

Owners of long-haired and double coated breeds know how little it takes for that coat to mat and tangle. With regular brushing, you will prevent this, and also remove all the dirt, debris and loose hairs.

Brushing is also a great way to distribute skin oils along the length of the coat and keep it shiny and healthy. It will also keep your dog clean for longer periods of time, hence reducing the amount of bathing.

Brush a dog

How Often Your Dog Needs Brushing?

Since not all dogs have the same type of coat, the amount of brushing can differ from one dog to another. Matted hair, dirt, and dull looking coat are the signs that your dog needs grooming. Depending on the type of the coat and its condition, you might spend a few minutes or a few hours a week grooming your pooch.

Read More About Best Dog Clippers 2018

short fur dog

Short Dense Furred Dogs

Breeds that have short but double coat must be brushed once a week. Still, when is shedding season, brush your dog twice a week or more to remove all the hairs. Furthermore, if your dog has dirt you can always brush him additionally to remove it.
Smooth short coat

Smooth Short Coated Dogs

These dogs can be brushed once every few weeks, to remove loose hair and distribute skin oils. During the shedding season, you may need to brush your pooch once a week to remove all the hairs.

puppy Brushing

Puppies Brushing

It is important for owners to introduce the grooming routine to their puppies. If you introduce this routine to a dog while he is young, you will have no problems grooming him when he is older. Just make sure to start slowly and let your puppy get used to the brush

Long hair

Long Coated Dogs

This type of coat requires the most care since it gets tangled easily. These breeds need to be groomed twice a week to keep their coat mat-free and to distribute skin oils.

How To Brush Your Dog?

When brushing your pooch you can start both from tail to head, or head to tail, whatever works for you and your pooch. Start from one end and work your way to the other making sure you don't miss anything in between.

The most common brushing method is to brush backward against the fur and then brushing it back into its place. This is especially important for double coated dogs since it will loosen matted hair and remove all the dirt.

While brushing your dog try to be as gentle as you can. This is very important for the head and ear area since they are very sensitive.

What Type Of Brush Do You Need?

There is a variety of different dog brushes that are made to suit the needs of every dog. The right brush will make grooming experience less scary. Having a right brush for your dog will make grooming easier and faster.

Read More About Best Dog Brush 2018


Short-Hair Brush

As the name says, this brush is made for short-haired dogs and it contains stiff closely spaced bristles. The bristles will remove loosed hair and dander, moreover they are easy to clean and will last you for years.

glove brushing

Short-Hair Glove

Is a rubberized glove-type brush that you place over your palm. It will make the coat glow and will remove all the loose hairs. The great thing about this brush is that your pooch will think that you are stroking him, and he will enjoy grooming session.


Long-hair brush

It is also called wire-pin brush and can have rubber-tipped ends or not. These brushes are great for matted hair that is medium or long and for curly and woolly coats.

If you go with the one without rubber-tipped ends make sure that you don't press too hard while brushing. This can be very uncomfortable for your pooch and damage his skin.


Slicker Brush

 This type of brush can be used on any coat and it is very effective in removing tangles and mats. It is made from fine wire bristles which can be sharp, so be careful when brushing your dog.
Chapter 3

Paw Care Tips

Besides bathing, nail grooming is the area where most owners and dogs struggle. Clipping nails isn't only stressful for dogs, it is for owners too.

Without proper care, the nails can quickly become ingrown or too long and make walking uncomfortable. If a dog has long nails he can injure himself while scratching and damage your furniture and carpets.

Be Careful When Trimming Pedicure

Hearing the clicking sound on the floor while your dog is walking is a sure sign that he needs nail trimming. If the nails are too long, they can break or cause walking problems that will be painful for your pooch.

To keep your dog's paws in pristine condition you need to cut his nails regularly. If you are afraid to do it yourself, take your dog to the groomer for a pedicure session.

Always Keep Paws Clean

Hearing the clicking sound on the floor while your dog is walking is a sure sign that he needs nail trimming. If the nails are too long, they can break or cause walking problems that will be painful for your pooch.

To keep your dog's paws in pristine condition you need to cut his nails regularly. If you are afraid to do it yourself, take your dog to the groomer for a pedicure session.

Control Paw Skin Moisture

A dog's pads can become dry and cracked and in order to keep them healthy and hydrated you need to use a special moisturizer. Don't use any of your creams on your dog since they are too strong and can soften the pads.

To find the cream that will work for your dog, talk with your vet. He can assess the situation and tell you what will work best for your dog.

Do Paw Massage Somtimes

By giving your dog a paw massage you will promote a better circulation and help his paws relax. Start by rubbing between the pads on the bottom of the paw and work your way between each finger.

Tips For Summertime Care 

During the hot summer months the pavement can become extremely hot and it is important to remember that it can injure your dog. To prevent burns and blisters don't walk your pooch on hot pavement or sand.


The signs of burned paw pads include blisters, loose flaps of skin, and red ulcerated patches. If you notice any of these apply an antibacterial wash and cover the paw. If the burns are too severe, take your pooch to the vet immediately.

Tips For Wintertime Care 

Winter isn't only hard on your skin and it can cause real damages to your pooch's paws. Snow and cold weather aren't the only danger, because salt and chemical ice melter can cause sores, infections, and blisters.

The signs of burned paw pads include blisters, loose flaps of skin, and red ulcerated patches. If you notice any of these apply an antibacterial wash and cover the paw. If the burns are too severe, take your pooch to the vet immediately.

You can apply Vaseline on the pads since it will act like a salt barrier. But the safest bet is to invest in nice doggy boots. They will keep your dog warm and his pads safe.

Apply first aid

It is fairly common for dogs to get smaller cuts and injuries from accidentally stepping on glass. If the wound is smaller than a half an inch in diameter you can clean it with an antibacterial wash.

If the wound is deeper or wider you need to take your dog to see a vet. It is very important to check your dog's paws regularly since even the small cuts can become infected.

Preventive Measures

To keep your dog's paws safe, keep your yard clean and watch where you walk your dog. Avoid places with broken glass, or other debris that can injure your dog, and put his boots on during the winter.

Dog nail
Chapter 4

Dog Nail Care

Besides bathing, nail grooming is the area where most owners and dogs struggle. Clipping nails isn't only stressful for dogs, it is for owners too.

Without proper care, the nails can quickly become ingrown or too long and make walking uncomfortable. If a dog has long nails he can injure himself while scratching and damage your furniture and carpets.

How to know if your dog needs nail trimming?

Usually, dogs need their nails cut once in every 4 or 6 weeks, but this can depend on a dog. Dogs that spend most of their time outside walking and running wear off their nails and don't need frequent trimmings.

On the other hand, dogs that aren't so active will need to have their claws cut regularly. You can tell for sure that your dog needs nail trimming if you hear his nails clicking on the floors while he is walking.

Dog Nail Care

How to cut your dog's nails?

There are two ways to keep your pooch's nails the right length, you can trim them at home by yourself, or you can take your dog to see a professional. Both options have their good and bad sides, and these are some of them:


At home grooming

While it may seem impossible to safely cut your dog's nails at home, it isn't and many owners do it. You will need some time to introduce this routine to your dog, and you can't expect to be a pro the very first time.

With the proper grooming tools and knowledge about the quick, you can safely and quickly trim your dog's nails. Be prepared to wait for some time until your pooch is comfortable with you handling his paws and nails.


Professional groomer

For pet parents that don't have time, a professional is a solution. You can be assured that your pet's paws are in the capable hands and that he won't get injured.

On the other hand, when you consider that you need to do this on every 6 weeks it can quickly become time-consuming. Furthermore, your budget will take a hefty hit, just for this one small thing.

Ultimately it is up to you to decide what works best for you and your pooch. But one thing is for sure, his nails need to be cut regularly. For more in-depth information about the nail cutting check our article on how to trim dogs nails.

What types of nail tools are available?

Pet industry recognized the growing trend of owners cutting their dogs nails at home, and you can find a variety of great tools. Most of them are professional grade and safe to operate in house conditions. One more great thing is, that they aren't expensive and will save you money from the start.

Check out The Best Dog Nail Clipper 2018 & The Best Dog Nail Grinder 2018


Nails Clippers

These are scissor type nail grooming tools, and work just like scissors. They come both with quick safety and not, and are very easy and safe to use.

Most of them are professional grade and safe to operate in house conditions. One more great thing is, that they aren't expensive and will save you money from the start.These are scissor type nail grooming tools, and work just like scissors. They come both with quick safety and not, and are very easy and safe to use.

nail gullotine

Nail Guillotine

This type of nail clippers isn't so scary as the name suggest, and is very easy to use and suitable for beginners. They have a retractable blade that is activated when you squeeze the handles.

Once you place your dog's nail into the tool and squeeze the handle the blade appears and cuts the nail just like guillotine would. With this device, you need to be sure that the blade is sharp enough, so it wouldn't crush the nail.

nail grinder

Nail Grinders

Unlike other two nail tools that cut nails, this one grinds that. They are operated on power or batteries and have a rotary head made of sandpaper, stone, or diamond wheel.

They are easy to use for first-time groomers and are less likely to injure your dog. On the other hand, they can be loud, and grinding process can take more time for longer and thicker nails.

How to prepare your dog for nail clipping?

If you have never before trimmed your dog's nails you will need a preparation period during which you will teach him that there isn't anything he needs to be afraid of. This will take some time, and it can take longer for an already adult dogs.

If your dog's nails are already very long, our suggestion is that you take him to a professional this time. In the meantime until his next nail trim, you can teach him how to be relaxed and not afraid of nail clippers.

Before you start, get acquainted with the quick. This is a soft part of the nail where all the nerves and blood vessels are. It is easy to notice in dogs with white nails, as a pinkish darker part of the nail. If your dog has black nails it can be a bit tricky to find the quick and you need to be careful.

Step 1

Most of the dogs doesn't like their paws and nails being touched and you need to teach yours to be relaxed during paw handling. Touch your dog's paws and nails, lift his leg off the ground. It is important to praise him and give treats so he will think of paw handling as a positive experience.

Step 2

Once your dog is comfortable with paw handling introduce him with your nail grooming tool. Place the tool and the treat close to each other and let your dogs sniff the cutter.

Step 3

After he is accustomed with the tool, you can squeeze the handles or turn on the grinder just for a second. Praise your pooch, give him a reward and repeat this until he is completely comfortable with the noise.

Step 4

The next thing you should do is to place the nail cutting tool against your pet's nail, and make the sound again. If he feels calm and comfortable you can try to cut one nail. Talk to your dog in a soothing voice, praise him, and give him rewards.

Step 5

If your dog behaved well you can proceed and cut all the nails at this point. On the other hand, if he seems stressed out, you need to stop and try again later. Don't be discouraged, talk with him in a soothing voice and give him treats.
Dog Teeth
Chapter 5

Dog Teeth Care

Proper dental care is also a part of dog grooming and needs to be done properly to keep your dog healthy. Most owners don't realize that their four-legged friends need their teeth brushed and that leads to serious health problems.

One of them is periodontal disease, a condition that once appears can't be cured, and without proper care progresses. Once the tartar sets in, your dog will need a professional cleaning, and you can find more information about it in our piece about dog teeth cleaning cost.

Why brush your dog's teeth?

Poor dental health can cause many problems like difficulty eating, constant pain, swollen gums, and a number of other conditions. For example, difficulty eating can lead to nutritional deficiency, loss of weight and anorexia.

Furthermore, dogs who develop the periodontal disease are at higher risk of getting all the bacteria from the mouth transferred to other organs through blood. Heart and liver problems are commonly seen in dogs with dental problems.

Luckily, all of these conditions are easily prevented if you brush your dog's teeth regularly. The best thing is to start brushing while your dog is still a puppy, but it is never too late to start. You will need more time to introduce this routine to your dog, but it isn't impossible.

Read More About Best Dental Chew For Dogs 2018

What to use for dog tooth brushing?

Bad breath is one of the signs of poor dental health, and even though it is tempting to use your fresh smelling toothpaste, you shouldn't. Human toothpaste can be toxic to dogs if ingested and you should stick with dog appropriate products.



There is a variety of dental products designed for to be appealing and safe for dogs. Canine toothpaste has different flavors like poultry, beef, vanilla, mint, bone, and many others.

Toothpaste is made to taste nice for our canine friends and make the toothbrushing easier. There are also naturally made products and ones that remove plaque and tartar.

toothbrush (1)


 There are three types of toothbrushes, normal, double ended, and finger slip ons and they have soft bristles. All of them are great at cleaning teeth, and it is up to you to see what works better for you and your pooch.

How often you need to brush your dog's teeth?

The answer to this question is fairly simple, you need to wash your dog's teeth every day. Yes, that's right, and although you heard that three times a week is enough it isn't.

Can you imagine brushing your teeth three times a week and expect them being healthy? The same goes for your dog, and although three times a week is better than never, it still isn't enough.

If you already have a dog that can tolerate teeth brushing then brush his teeth every day to prevent the development of plaque. This will significantly lower the occurrence of periodontal disease and other health problems. You can find more information about dental hygiene in our piece on how to brush dog teeth.

dog Ear
Chapter 6

Dog Ear Care

It may come as a surprise but ear care is also a part of grooming, and if not cared for properly ears can cause many health problems. Overall, your dog needs his ears regularly checked but for the duration of his life

If cared for properly some dogs don't have ear related problems never in their lives. On the other hand, some dogs may develop ear related problems more easily and frequently.

Why Your Dog Needs Ear Cleaning?

Dogs inner ear is twisty and curvy which makes it a perfect place for bacteria, yeast, and parasites to hide and thrive in. This design makes it harder for all the debris and dirt to work its way out.

Furthermore, breed like Poodles, Basset Hounds, and Cocker Spaniels that have floppy ears are prone to develop ear infections. Also, dogs that have hairs in their ears have problems if those hairs aren't trimmed regularly.

dog ear

How To Clean Your Dog's Ear?

Cleaning your dog's ears should be a part of his regular grooming routine. The actual cleaning isn't hard, but dogs don't like their ears cleaned so be prepared for some resistance.

1# Make It Positive

Just like with all other new routines, teach your dog to associate ear cleaning with positive things. Teach your dog to let you handle his ears, and use praise and treats to do so.

Once your pooch feels relaxed while you are touching his ears and looking inside you can start preparing for the actual ear cleaning.

2# Get The Right Tools

You can't clean your dog's ears with cotton swabs that you use for cleaning your ears. Instead, prepare cotton balls or gauze, gloves, and an ear rinse.

3# Prepare Everything

It is important to have everything you need within the hands reach. You don't want to start with the cleaning and suddenly realize that the cotton balls are still in the bathroom.

Check out Best Dog Ear Cleaner

4# Cleaning The Ears

Remember that your dog's ears are sensitive and you need to start cleaning them from the outside. Slowly work your way inside, and stop once you start feeling the resistance.

Don't try to push too hard because you can damage your dog's ear. Once you apply the ear rinse to the cotton ball, use one for the outer layer, and a clean one for the inside of the ear.

Ideally, you should clean your dog's ears like this once a week in order to keep them free of dirt and bacteria. If you notice that your dog's ear is very dirt it is wise to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

5# Use Tweezers

If your pooch has hair growing from his ears you will need to tweeze it once in every few weeks. This will prevent the creation of mats and accumulation of ear wax. If your dog is having an ear infection you can check our article about natural remedies for dog ear infection.


You can see that dog grooming is so much more than simple sprucing up and pampering that will make a dog simply look better. Proper and regular grooming plays a roll in your dog's overall health and can affect his lifespan.

Bathing and nail clipping are two things that most owners dread about and most dogs hate. On the other hand, it isn't hard to teach your dog to love and be relaxed during these occasions. Once you invest some time in proper preparation your pooch will see that there is nothing to be afraid of.

Still, if you don't have time, you can take your pooch to the professional to have him completely groomed. There are various opportunities to keep your dog groomed and taken cared of properly. And remember, bathing, brushing, nail, paw, teeth, and ear care are all parts of grooming and shouldn't be avoided.

The fundamental dog grooming

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