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DIY Dog Grooming Tips for at Home Grooming with Dogue Spa | Blooming Culture

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*There was an audio problem on our end and there is a lot of echoing coming from our sound. We apologize in advance, but read below for all of the main topics we covered!

Josh, founder of Dogue Spa in West Hollywood, California is breaking down the Do's & Don'ts for pet parents doing DIY dog grooming at home. 

It's important to remember that flat or short hair dogs need grooming too. A professional dog grooming for them from time to time allows for a deep clean, anal gland secretion and a nail trim. 

So let's begin with the basics of DIY home dog grooming for dogs that do have longer coats.

In addition to the daily combing that is ideal for some breeds, the next steps must ALL be followed and completed. To be honest, we can tell you from personal experience that these steps are really important!


Bathing, Drying, Brushing and then Combing

The trimming part is best left up to the professional groomers, but there are tips below and in our DIY dog grooming video to guide you. Please make sure to bathe your dog before you trim their hair unless there are mats in their coat that need to be shaved or cut out.


Step #1 Bathing

How often you bathe your dog depends on their hair type and activity level. Over bathing a dog will dry the skin out and strip out natural oils. Grooming wipes are great to use in between regular baths and for smooth coat dogs.

What does the typical grooming schedule look like for a dog? That is very breed specific, but for example, a Poodle or a Yorkie might need a bath every 3-4 weeks and get a hair cut every 5-8 weeks. For us, our rescue poodle mix that is only 8 lbs we prefer to get bathed and trimmed every 4 weeks and have a regular bath and face trim every 2 weeks in between. This part is also a pet parent's personal preference.

Make sure you are using a pet shampoo that is paraben, dye, and sulfate-free. Do not use human shampoo, the PH levels are different and it may not be as gentle. Tearless pet shampoo is good for around the face area so it doesn't burn the skin or eyes.

A dog-specific face mask is also helpful to really clean up tear stains and get deep into the folds and wrinkles on the face of breeds like Bulldogs. Opt for a natural face mask so it is gentle on their skin. 

To keep water out of the ears use cotton balls and try to tilt your dog's head back when you are rinsing the top of their head. Avoid getting soap and water around their eyes, nose, and mouth. To help prevent getting water in your dog's ears try putting cotton balls in them. If the cotton balls don’t stay in your dog's ears you can try getting a Happy Hoodie. It’s a sock towel that goes over your dog's ears (it’s actually to drown out the sound of a hairdryer).

There are also pet ear cleaners that will evaporate extra water in your dog's ear. We can't stress how important it is if your dog's ears get wet. It can lead to an infection or a yeast problem which can be painful and smelly.


Step #2 Drying

This step is of the most critical in DIY dog grooming regarding certain breed types.

If you do bathe your dog at home and they have “hair” make sure you must "make sure you dry them completely." If you leave any water behind in their coat, kinks and curls will form and their hair will mat up easier.

If it rains and your dog gets wet you must dry them completely also with a blow dryer. This, just like a bath, will cause their hair to kink up and mat, but a towel is fine for smooth coat dogs.

To blow-dry your dog at home you can use a pet-specific hair dryer (the heat settings are more forgiving) or your own hairdryer on low at a safe distance away. If you are looking for a small professional grooming dryer for your home, Josh recommends the Shernbao.


Step #3 Brushing

As Josh says “Brush your dog like it’s nobody’s business”.

Brushing your dog daily is ideal, but even 3X a week is a huge help for upkeep in between professional dog groomings. It is ok to break up brushing throughout the day if it’s easier for you. Try to make it a good bonding experience by using treats, toys, or chews before and during the process.

A slicker brush AND comb is the combo you need for the best results. The brush gets the top layer, the comb gets the under layer and is actually what is doing the de-matting. When you have finished brushing and combing, re-check everything with your comb. If you hit a tangle just go over it with your brush again.

Can I just use a regular hairbrush? It's definitely not ideal, the bristles are softer and spread further apart than on a slicker brush. So while you CAN use it, the results will not be the same. But you can purchase a slicker brush that has little guards on the tips so it’s not as rough as some on the market.

The main areas where a dog will usually have matted fur are: under the arms, hips, behind the ears, under the belly, and their sides.

Dog clothes can contribute to matting along with certain dog harnesses and thick dog collars. It’s important to brush your dog’s coat immediately if any of these items have been left on for a long period of time.


Coat Trimming

Thinning shears are good if you have to trim your dog's hair at home. It will leave your cut less choppy looking and keep the lines softer than just using clippers. There are very cheap and very expensive thinning shears, but Josh says that any Japanese brand has the best craftsmanship and usually come with lifetime warranties, with his favorite brand being Utsumi.

If you have to cut hair on your dog's face or near the eye, use thinning shears that have a blunt tip. Josh demonstrates how to do it in the video at apx. 30 min. and again at the 36 min. mark.

But if you can wait to see your groomer, try using a hairband or clip to keep hair out of your dog's face in the meantime. Make sure to change it daily, so their hair doesn’t mat.

Don't forget to check your dog’s paw pad fur too. It is too long if it is longer than the pads themselves. A basic cordless pet clipper is good to trim it down, and Josh demonstrates this at apx. 32 min. into our video. 

Some of the most important areas to keep trimmed are their “private areas”. Having them "nice and tight" helps for hygiene and matting purposes.


 Nail Trimming

Trimming your dog's nails can be a daunting task. If you or your dog don't have PTSD already from attempting it, you can use any inexpensive nail clippers from the pet store. Please DON’T hit their nail quicks. When you see a little black dot (and please google dog's nail quick if you don't know about them) that's when you know they are coming. Take the cutting slowly and trim a little at a time or use a pet nail grinder. Grinders can get the nails a little shorter and smoother, or you can use them after clipping to be extra thorough.


Josh is an award-winning pet stylist and co-founder of Dogue Spa in West Hollywood, CA. He is truly an artist and specializes in Japanese style cuts. To see his work head to @doguespa or @joshandsnow on Instagram. 

Dogue Spa is considered an essential business and during this time they remain open. Precautions are being taken along with curbside drop-off and pick-up. Currently, Dogue Spa is offering 30% of any services for essential workers and first responders along with 20% off baths for all clients.