Dog Care

DIY Dog Grooming School Because Mama Needs A New Pair Of (Uneaten) Shoes

DIY Dog Grooming School Because Mama Needs A New Pair Of (Uneaten) Shoes

Written By Amica Graber

Jan 25, 2017

Did I mention that I hate January? Because I really hate January. It’s cold, it’s wet, I’m hungry, I’m sober, and I’m stupid-broke. My bank statements looks like the pit where Buffalo Bill keeps his houseguests, and all belts in the household must be tightened — even fur-belts.

As the proud dog mom of a Cocker Spaniel, I’m no stranger to dropping serious dimes at the groomer on a monthly basis. And to be honest with you, I would cut something else from my spartan budget so my dog can have nothing but the best — but taking my spaniel to the V-E-T is easier than taking him to the groomer.

Adopting a senior rescue dog is one of the greatest joys in life, but for all the snuggles and bliss, the senior doggo can have unique needs. For instance, my dog loathes anything that resembles the pound. Put him in a crate surrounded with other dogs? No bueno. Everytime I pick him up from the groomer, he’s a bundle of shaking nerves, and it takes him a full day (or two strips of doggy bacon) until he represses the memory.

Between the money and the feels, I’ve decided to that DIY dog grooming is the right move for both of us.

Step One: Get Your Tools

dog grooming tools

To groom your dog at home, you’ll need the following tools:

  • A brush and comb

  • Doggy shampoo

  • Dog clippers

  • A vacuum cleaner or broom

The Best Dog Clippers


Investing in a sturdy set of dog clippers is a sound investment that will pay itself off in a month or two. Make sure you buy dog clippers. No, you cannot use a beard trimmer on your Poodle and hope for the best.

Many dog clippers are quieter than regular clippers, which is essential for skittish dogs that don’t like loud noises. Dog clippers can work their way through coarse and thick hair without pulling or tangling the fur.

When buying a set of dog clippers, take into account what type of fur your dog has. Dogs with crazy curls, like Portuguese Water Dogs and Poodles, will need heavy-duty dog clippers. Long-haired dogs, like Cocker Spaniels, require a medium setting, and short-furred dogs, like Labs, need the least powerful clippers.

Make sure you buy clippers that aren’t too noisy. Most sales associates at your local pet store will be happy to find you the right set for your dog.

How To Shave Your Pooch

Dr. Google is divided on whether you should shave your dog before or after the bath. I think it’s up to you, but if you have a dog that detests the bath, shaving first might be easier as your dog will be less stressed/fed up with you. 

  1. Brush your dog, gently combing through matted hair. If your dog is severely matted, you need to go straight to a dog groomer and not attempt it yourself, as you could injure your pet

  2. Don’t pull on your dog’s fur

  3. Slowly run the clippers over your dog’s fur, following the direction of the fur growth — never against!

  4. Make sure the clippers don’t get too hot

  5. Take care when shaving sensitive areas, like the tummy

  6. Use treats and allow your dog to have breaks

  7. Reward your dog plentifully post-grooming

I chose to shave my dog on a separate day from his bath-time, so I wouldn’t overwhelm him. The beauty of DIY dog grooming is that you can do it in small doses when you feel like it. If your dog is in a good mood, clipper away! If not? A little today, a little tomorrow!

How To Bathe A Dog That Thinks Water Is Liquid Satan

Ironically, the above dog looks identical to my dog — if he’d accidentally eaten some kind of zen dognip. Alas, bath time is not a relaxing dip in the tub, but rather a soggy doggy Armageddon. Is there anyway to make bath time less traumatic for my dog?


  • Fill up the bath with warm, soapy water before trying to coax Pooches inside the bathroom. Use a damp washcloth to wash your dog, and don’t turn on the shower to avoid furry freak-outs

  • Gather your tools beforehand. You’ll need shampoo, treats, a leash, and anything extra you might need in the middle of bathtime

  • Try throwing a tennis ball/your dog’s favorite water-resistant toy in the water to make it look less scary

  • Prepare to get wet. Forgo pants

  • If you have shower doors, keep them closed — otherwise, use a leash to make sure your dog doesn’t bolt out of the bath

Leave This For The Pros

Professional dog grooming usually comes with a nail trim and expressing the anal glands. When it comes to nails and butt stuff, I’ll leave it to the professionals.

Most groomers (and vets) offer nail trims and anal gland expression as standalone services, which is cheaper and less time-consuming than having a full groom on a monthly basis. If your pup is fine with having their paws held and their glands fussed with, it’s also safe to do this on your own.

Remember that double-coated dogs should never be shaved. If you feel any doubts about trimming your dog's fur, especially around sensitive areas like the ears, leave it for the professionals!

Have you mastered the secrets of being a canine beautician? Share your pro tips in the comment section below!