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April 23, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Grooming Dogs 101

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Paws & Awws Blog Series

Some dogs require more grooming than others - I own an example of each. Romeo, my Pomeranian, requires a bath and fur-cut every 6-8 weeks at a professional dog grooming salon. We can always tell when the time is getting close, as his little paws tell the story; we often refer to them as "Grinch" feet. Izzy, on the other hand, is a smooth-coated Dachshund, which means her fur is short. Sounds like the upkeep should be simple with her, right? Well, Izzy is a stinky dog, requiring a bath every 2 weeks (doing it once a week dries her skin out).

Does your dog require a Romeo type grooming or an Izzy bath?

If your dog needs a regular fur-cut, consider choosing a professional dog groomer to help with this process.

How to find a Professional Dog Groomer

  • Ask other pet-parents. If you see a dog at the park and like their cut, consider asking the pet-parent who grooms their dog.
  • Ask your trainer. As a trainer, I am always referring my clients over to Romeo's groomers. They show their appreciation by giving Romeo a discount when he comes in. A win-win for everyone!
  • Ask your vet. Your vet may have a grooming staff.
  • Ask your Doggy Daycare provider. I refer two Doggy Daycares to my training clients; one has a professional groomer on staff, and the other offers self-washing stations.

How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?

It depends on the dog. Over-bathing can cause dry patches, flakiness, and irritated skin. Before deciding on how often your dog should be bathed, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your dog like to play in dirt?
  • Does your dog sleep in your bed or get on the furniture?
  • Does your dog have the wet-dog smell that just won't go away?
  • Is your dog's skin healthy?

If you answer yes to these questions, then a bi-weekly bath will be fine. However, if you give your dog a weekly bath, watch their skin carefully for 6 to 8 weeks. If you notice any skin issues, reduce the frequency. Adding Fish Oil to your dog's diet will help keep their skin and fur healthy.

How Do I Bathe My Dog

First, prep your area. Depending on the size of your dog, a sink, shower, or outdoor kiddie pool can serve as the bathing space. If using an outdoor faucet, consider hooking up warm water to the faucet to keep it comfortable for your pooch.

I use our shower, which is equipped with a special nasal attachment that hooks to our shower head for easy rinsing.


  • If you don’t have the nasal attachment, a large jug to fill with water will work just fine
  • Shampoo (do NOT use human shampoo, these are not formulated for dogs and can be overly drying to their skin)
  • Ear Cleaning Solution
  • Towels
  • Turn on water to warm it up
  • Go get dog
  • Remove collar and tags

Some dogs love baths, while others despise them. I never prep my area in front of her - no reason to add to her anxiety - and I never call her to me for the bath. This is a big Trainer No-No. Calling your dog to you for a negative (e.g. Izzy and the bath) will only instill in them the idea that coming to you is a bad deal.

I place Izzy in the tub, spray her down with my special attachment and then start lathering her up with the shampoo. Srcub the back area, including underneath the belly, behind the ears, by the tail and buttocks, as well as the paws. I use Defendex shampoo by Vetionx. I LOVE this shampoo because it has has been created at standards considered safe around children, is biodegradable, pH balanced, and hypoallergenic. It also has a pleasant scent.

Avoid getting shampoo or water in your dog's eyes and ears. Some dogs suffer from ear infections, so using cotton balls in their ears to prevent water from going into them is very helpful.

While bathing

After gently massaging the shampoo into your dog's fur and skin for about three minutes, rinse off. It's important to make sure not to leave any shampoo residue on your dog's skin, as this can cause skin irritation. If you see any ticks or fleas, it is important that you remove these parasites from your pet. A special shampoo may be needed to kill them.

After rinsing her thoroughly and draining the water, I leave Izzy in the tub to dry so when she shakes the water off her body it stays contained in the tub/shower area versus the whole bathroom. Closing the shower curtain to contain dispelled water from your dog is helpful. I then work on towel drying her first.

We also include a good ear cleaning, as many dogs tend to trap dirt very easily. I use a special ear cleaning solution dabbed on a cotton ball to swipe the inside of the ear flap. (Be careful to not go into the ear canal, as this may harm your dog's ear.)

Using Heat

CAUTION: HOT tools can burn your dog's skin if not used properly.

I use my blow dryer to finish drying Izzy. I always make sure my hand is between the heat of the blow dryer and her skin, as I use it in a repeated circular motion all over her. To prevent burning to your dog's skin, NEVER... EVER hold the blow dryer onto one spot for more than a second. Keep the blow dryer moving at all times.


Some dog's will need their fur coat brushed out after the bath. Izzy, having a smooth coat, does not require this. However, weekly brushings do help keep matting and unruly fur in control.

Treat Time - Very Important :-)

After bath time, reward your furry friend with a yummy treat for their good behavior.


Start the grooming process as early as 8 weeks old. Keep it positive by taking baby steps to show your little puppy that the bathing area is not a place to fear. Take your puppy into the bathing area, and give them treats. Do this everyday for a week. Next, have a play session in the bathing area (if area is big enough) to associate the positive again. Put puppy in tub without any water, and let them have some treats while in there, then remove them. Don't over coddle your puppy if they start getting upset once you start the bathing process. Talk to them in a confident tone, reassuring them.

Should I Shave My Dog's Coat in The Summer?

This is a big no-no for many breeds. Their coat is long for a reason, and it is used to keep your dog warm, but they are often a mechanism for cooling too. Long coats can act as a barrier to keep the skin cool and the heat out.

Before having your breeds coat shaved, please research first, and discuss with professional groomer. Although you may be thinking you are helping your dog stay cool, it could be just the opposite of what you are trying to achieve.

Trimming Your Dog's Nails

I take Izzy and Romeo to the professional groomers to handle this. Both of them have dark nails, so it is very difficult to see the quick. If the quick is cut, it is very painful and can cause severe bleeding.

If you decide to trim your dog's nails yourself, make sure to start at an early age. Introduce the clippers by doing one or two nails at a time, every hour. Let your puppy lick some peanut butter off a spoon as you are clipping. This will help occupy their mind, plus associate the trimming with something yummy.

I hope these tips make grooming your dog an easy process and a positive experience for your pooch.

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  • these are the best pictures ever! I love the banner picture, I wish my dogs were this calm when giving them a bath. My dogs don't like bathing, I don't know why I always use nice tepid water and I'm gentle with them.

    As for nail trimming - even the vet has a problem trimming my dogs nails, so I wait until after Gracie has a seizure and is out of it, then I quick cut her nails. It works out great. Plus my daughter bought some special toe nail clippers and they work way better than a persons toe nail clipper which was our go to nail clippers for the dogs in the past.

  • When I work with puppies, I make the nail trimming very positive, so I have one person hold a spoon of peanut butter for them to lick up, while the other person trims their nails. They associate this special yummy treat with nail trimming, works like a charm every time.

    For bathing, with puppies, I do slow introductions, first I put them in the tub with no water and again, give them yummy treats, I do this quiet a few times before I introduce a little bit of water at the bottom of the tub. Also, I always tell my clients to never ever "call their dog to them" for bath time. We don't want to teach a dog that coming to us is something negative if they don't enjoy baths.

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