• Smart Bark

How to Groom Your Dog at Home

Updated: May 18

Smart Bark is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

What can you do if your dog is beginning to resemble a tramp and you can’t get to the groomers? This can be the case for many breeds of dogs particularly those with longer coats as they require regular dog grooming at home to keep them neat and free of mats.

Many pet parents successfully groom their dogs at home but it takes time and effort to get your dog comfortable with a routine of at-home grooming. Follow our Pampered Paws Guide to keep your dog happy and healthy whilst looking totally adorable.

Lady grooming a dog with a metal brush

Basic home dog grooming such as brushing and bathing your dog can be carried out easily at home with very little expertise or equipment. However, when it comes to trimming coats, dog nail clipping and buying dog grooming clippers you need to have confidence in yourself and your dog before you start.

The most important thing to remember is that you want your dog to enjoy the grooming process. Start very slowly, with one task at a time, and be sure to give your dog plenty of treats during and after each task.

Consider breaking the home dog grooming process up into several different sessions. It doesn’t all need to be achieved in one sitting and ‘little and often’ makes it much more tolerable for your four-legged friend. Maybe complete one task each day :-

  • Ears

  • Brushing

  • Bathe and Dry

  • Trim – Main Body

  • Trim - Difficult Areas

  • Nails

1. Cleaning Dog Ears

Use a cotton ball or a cotton pad wrapped around your index finger to gently wipe the visible part of your dog's ear canal and outer ear. If necessary dampen the cotton pad with a little mineral oil or buy an ear cleaning solution formulated specifically for dogs.

Ear Stuff, Stinky Stuff for dogs ear problems

There are lots available on the market but choose wisely as some solutions smell foul. With a very hairy cockapoo, we've tried a whole variety of products.

We settled on Stinky Stuff's Ear Stuff as we've found it not only keeps ears clean but smells quite nice too.

If the ears are very dirty, squirt a little solution into the ear and massage the ears for 30 seconds to ensure it coats the inside of the ear canal before removing it with a cotton ball.

Take a Look Ear Stuff- Stinky Stuff

There is a useful video guide from PDSA on How to Clean Your Dog's Ears.

2. Dog Brushing

Regular brushing alone can accomplish a great deal in the way of good grooming. The important thing is to get your dog accustomed to regular brushing and if possible brush whilst standing rather than lying down to make it easier to reach those difficult spots . If your dog really doesn’t like being brushed, build up to it slowly.

Dog being brushed at home

Initially try stroking your dog with the back of your hand in long slow sweeping movements along the length of the back. Then progress to long stokes with the back of the brush (as it introduces the brush to your dog but doesn't create resistance), before finally turning the brush over and slowly brushing in long sweeping movements.

Try not to tug and pull at matts, or randomly brush areas without a pattern to your movements. If it's difficult to keep your dog still, don't be afraid to use treats as rewards to start with.

3. Dog Grooming Bath

The general guideline for bathing dogs is around once every four weeks, and this may vary based on their daily activities. Obviously if your dog ends up caked in mud after a walk, a bath is essential.

A good dog shampoo is your secret weapon for keeping your four-legged friend looking and smelling their best. Dogs shampoo needs are as different as the dogs themselves. It’s important to buy a shampoo suitable for your dog’s coat and colour whilst dealing with any allergies they may suffer from.

Our Top 10 Dog Shampoos identifies some of the best shampoos available in the UK for all your various needs - Top 10 Dog Shampoos

dog baths at home with shampoo

Make sure you have a supply of treats and some dedicated towels at the ready. Don't forget to set up your hairdryer and brush before you start.

One idea you could try is smearing some dog friendly peanut butter on the tiles at head height. With luck your dog will be more interested in licking the peanut butter leaving you to concentrate on washing.

Start by wetting your dog at their back end and work your way forward toward their head. Try to avoid getting water in their ears. Repeat the process with shampoo, starting at their back end and work your way to their face. Be careful to avoid getting shampoo in their eyes.

rinsing shampoo from a dog after a dog grooming bath

4. Dog Trim – Main Body

Grooming a dog’s coat is not a simple task and requires knowledge and experience. Only attempt to use dog grooming clippers or scissors on your dog if you feel confident in both yourself and your dogs ability to keep still.

dog grooming with a pair of scissors

If you fancy trying a home dog groom invest in the best dog grooming clippers you can afford. Here a couple of options :-

Professional Choice - Wahl Dog Cordless Clipper

Oster Pro 3000i dog grooming clippers

These are professional clippers so on the pricey side.

Extremely powerful, single speed and cordless for maximum movement.

The battery provides 100 minutes of clipping time so should stretch to the biggest, shaggiest dog.

They offer a more relaxing experience for your dog due to its quiet operation - ideal for noise sensitive dogs.

Take a Look - Wahl Dog Clippers

Value Range - OMORC Dog Grooming Clippers

cheap dog grooming clippers

This clipper set includes a cordless clipper, 6 comb attachments, scissors and a comb, making it an excellent value pack.

The rechargeable battery provides 70 minutes of clipping time after a 3-4 hour charge.

Take a Look - OMORC Dog Clippers

Whichever dog grooming clippers you use, bear in mind the following key points :-

When you start clipping, keep your opposite hand on the dog at all times. Pull the skin taut with your opposite hand while you run the clippers down your dog's body. This will prevent skin folds from getting in the way and causing a lumpy appearance in the coat.

Keep clipper blades flat against the skin.

Clipper blades may well get HOT. Frequently touch the clipper blade to the inside of your forearm to see how hot it is.

Put an extension on the clippers so you do not get too close to the skin.

Follow your dog’s natural outline or a previous grooming cut.

Go slowly, take your time as rushing can lead to accidents.

If in doubt, stick to brushing to avoid matting, a visit to a professional groomer is usually cheaper than a trip to the vet. There are lots of excellent YouTube videos available. This one is particularly well shot with lots of useful advice.

5. Trim - Difficult Areas

Most dogs grow hair between the pads on the bottoms of their feet. When this hair gets too long it can collect pesticides and other debris. With dogs that have continuously-growing hair, the hair can become matted and cause painful lumps.

You can use scissors to cut the hair flush with your dog’s paw pads. Don’t dig between the paw pads with the scissors as it's too easy to nick your dog's paw.

dog grooming scissors

Thinning shears are useful for the details such as trimming around delicate areas like the eyes and feet.

Thinning shears rather than scissors can give your dog a more natural look, and the design of the shears helps you avoid accidentally injuring your dog when you trim around those difficult areas such as the nose, feet and eyes.

Take a Look Aussel Thinning Shears

6. Dog Nail Clipping

Dog nail clipping is often best left to a pro, but you might feel confident enough to try. At the end of the day you know your dog best. Be extra cautious when clipping nails, because the nails are supplied with blood and a misdirected clip could lead to massive pain.

best dog nail clippers

Invest in some decent dog nail clippers. The best dog nail clippers incorporate a protective guard to protect your dogs from "over-trimming" and a safety lock for easy storage.

These dog nail clippers by Simply Pets Online have been designed by 2 vets with 30 years experience. They are lightweight and the handles are comfortable and non-slip.

Take a Look - Best Dog Nail Clippers

If you feel confident, there are a number of YouTube videos providing guidance on clipping dog nails, this one was really simple to follow.

Grooming your dog at home doesn’t have to be difficult for either you or your dog. By making it part of your routine, staying organised and methodical, it can become an enjoyable time of bonding for both of you. Thanks for dropping by and checking out our article on How to Groom Your Dog at Home.