10 Common Dog Grooming Mistakes And How To Avoid Them


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Grooming your dog can be messy, difficult, and downright unpleasant, but it can be even worse for both you and your pup when you’re making mistakes without realizing it.

Maybe you want to save some cash by doing the grooming yourself instead of relying on professionals. However, there’s a reason dog groomers get paid to do what they do–they know what they’re doing.

Still, if you’re willing to learn and put in the effort, you can do a fairly good job of keeping your dog from looking too scruffy on your own. If you do decide to groom your dog yourself, here are a few mistakes you should avoid.

1. Failing To Train Your Dog

Shiba puppy

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If you want to groom your dog without causing anxiety, injury, or a mess, you absolutely must train your dog to be groomed. That means starting as early in life as possible.

You should work on making sure your dog is comfortable with being touched on the face, paws, tail, and entire body, as well as getting used to potentially buzzing or noisy grooming equipment.

They should also get accustomed to other people touching them, as you may wish to rely on a groomer some day, and you don’t want your dog to be fearful or nip.

Even for dogs adopted later in life, it’s important to get comfortable with grooming. Create as stress-free of an environment as possible, and give your dog plenty of praise and rewards while bathing and brushing teeth and fur.

Make it a positive experience, and be patient. Your dog may be nervous at first, but keep at it. This will reduce the chance of your dog exhibiting anxious behavior that will make grooming miserable for you and your pooch.

2. Failing To Brush Before Getting Wet

This is especially important for dogs with long hair, which easily mats when getting wet. Long hair is also more likely to get tangled in water, which can make for some pretty painful brushing later on.

A quick brush before getting wet will loosen any dead hair tangled in the coat, which can prevent discomfort when you brush or cut your dog’s hair after the bath.

3. Failing To Brush After Getting Wet

Dachshund to be brushed

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In addition to brushing before a bath, you must also brush after a bath.

This will be much easier and more painless if you’ve brushed beforehand, and it’s important because the bathing process can loosen more dead hair. These hairs can get tangled in the coat if they’re left there, so remember that brushing is always a before and after activity.

4. Not Grooming In Winter

Many dog owners are worried that if they cut their dogs’ hair in the colder months, their pups will be cold. So they go on without giving their dogs haircuts, but they also neglect other grooming responsibilities.

This results in severe matting before the warmer months even come around, and the only fix at that point is to give the coat a short shave, which is the opposite of what owners want in winter. Not to mention, the added fur length doesn’t help dogs stay that much warmer in winter.

Keep up with brushing and bathing, and at least give your dog’s coat a trim. This will help avoid matted, tangled hair while letting your pup’s natural coat keep them warm.

You don’t need to give your dog a full shave, but keep up with maintenance of their fur.

5. Being Inconsistent

White Mixed Breed Dog

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Just because it’s not time for a bath, haircut, and full-on grooming session doesn’t mean you can let up on the basic things like brushing.

Some dog owners don’t plan on giving their dog a grooming session during a certain time of the year, or they may go several weeks without the need to give their dog a bath or haircut, but it’s still important to keep up with the motions of grooming so dogs don’t forget what it feels like.

Doing so will result in less stress when you do get around to a full grooming session.

6. Not Being Thorough

Brushing your dog’s back is fairly easy. Unfortunately, many owners forget that there’s an entire dog body attached to that back that needs brushing.

Fur around the belly, armpits, tail, ears, neck, and face all need care, too, especially because these parts are where pests and parasites like to infest.

Caring for these places on your dog’s body and removing tangles and mats won’t just help them look good. It will help maintain their health, too.

7. Not Cutting Nails Slowly And Precisely With The Right Equipment

Unrecognizable veterinarian is trimming nails dog, close-up

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Nail trimming is a challenge for most dog owners, and it’s one of the reasons you should focus on getting your dog used to having their paws handled during training.

Don’t rush into nail clipping, and make sure you use sharp clippers. Replace them regularly. Dull clippers crush nails instead of cutting them, and they can slip and lead to injury.

Make sure you know how to spot the quick of the nails. If your dog has light colored nails, you’ll probably be able to see the quick as a pink circle around each nail. If your dog has dark nails, the quick might only be visible as a black circle when you cut into the nail.

Go slowly and do not cut the quick, as it will cause bleeding and pain. If you’re unsure of how to do this, ask your veterinarian or a professional groomer for advice.

8. Shaving Too Close

Cutting too close to the skin with clippers can leave razor burn, especially if the blades are dull or broken. Razor burn can become infected when left untreated.

Always make sure your clippers have sharp, new blades, as these are less likely to catch and skip.

Not only will this protect your dog’s skin, but it will help you cut your dog’s coat more evenly.

9. Getting Shampoo In The Eyes

Bathing a dog

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This can happen when dog owners are being careless or moving too quickly. Special care needs to be taken when bathing the face and head.

While many modern dog shampoos are designed to be safe for contact with the eyes, they’re still likely to cause discomfort, and that irritation can make bath time all the more stressful.

Go slowly, rinse thoroughly, and make sure to avoid or cover your dog’s eyes.

10. Letting The Dog Outside Right After Grooming

Lots of dogs go nuts after bath time, even if they are thoroughly dried. One of the first things they like to do is run around and roll in things.

There are lots of reasons dogs might do this, but it’s important that you keep your dog inside immediately after grooming unless you want them to come back in covered in dirt and whatever else they can roll in outside. You’ll have to start the whole grooming process over if that happens.

Give your dog time to work the zoomies out indoors before you let them out.

What other grooming mistakes have you made? How do you avoid them? Let us know in the comments below!

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