How to Groom Your Dog At Home

I’ve always wanted to learn to groom my dog from home but I never knew where to learn.  Have you ever considered how to groom your dog at home? After months of Internet research and talking to colleagues in the pet industry, the options came down to attending a school in person, watching and reading things online related to dog grooming, and/or partaking in a qualified home study training program.

I opted to learn to groom my dog from home by enrolling in the All About Dog Grooming home study training package developed and written by Richard and Carol Doggett. I do not want to become a professional groomer; I simply want to learn to groom my dog from home safely, effectively, and from someone whom I can trust.

In exchange for a fair and honest review, Carol Doggett mailed me her All About Grooming book and CD set. Here’s our journey over the past few months.

How to Groom Your Dog

What You Get with All About Grooming Home Study Training Package:

  • Extensive Study Manual
  • Training with the Doggetts Through 8 hrs of Dog Grooming DVDs
  • Personal One on One Coaching with the Doggetts By Phone upon request
  • Certificate of Training

I also emailed back and forth numerous times with Doggett with questions, concerns, and what tools to purchase. Again, I only want to learn how to groom my American Cocker Spaniel from home. I do not intend to become a professional groomer, but the foundation the Doggetts provide in this course are a wonderful starting point for anyone who is considering that career path.

Caveat: I have been bathing and brushing my dog for his whole life and in recent months, I have been slowly learning to groom his face and ears with success. It helps to have a dog who is familiar and accepting of being handled. Nightly teeth brushing means my dog is used to having his mouth gently touched. My dog has also been to a professional dog groomer for most of his adult life faithfully every 4 to 6 weeks for a basic touch up, and every 9 weeks or so for a full grooming.

Carol and Dexter Bryant

How I Started Grooming My Dog

To get some hands on, in person insights, I visited with my dog’s breeder so she could show me the step by step of grooming in person. Seeing someone groom a dog in person is highly recommended, and I am very grateful for the expertise of Rae Johnson. It is here that I learned a bunch about tools and how to get started.

Doggett’s program is the next step in my journey. I read through the manual and watched the grooming of the American Cocker Spaniel portion of the DVD.

The Tools

Knowing full well that my end goal is to be proficient in grooming my dog, investing in the proper tools is next on the agenda.

Here is a photograph of some of the tools we invested in. Doggett’s course walks you through the tools needed and she’ll even give you advice on where to find them and the best price, too!

Dog grooming tools

We are also investing in a grooming table next. There is no way I could ever get nor recommend you attempt to clip or groom your dog from home without a proper grooming table.

Learn to groom your dog at home
A friend’s Cocker on a grooming table.

Bathing a Dog

Starting with a clean, blown dry dog is of utmost importance, especially with the American Cocker Spaniel. The breed happens to have fairly oily skin, so a clean and dry dog means the clippers will be smoother to go through the coat. I bathe my dog at home with a good dog shampoo that is healthy for his coat. It also helps that my dog eats a good diet and gets plenty of exercise so that his coat is healthy from the inside out.

dog getting bath
Ahh that’s the spot, Mom.

Dog Nails and Paws

At the very least, a dog’s paws should be inspected regularly and the nails should be trimmed to an adequate length so as not to cause discomfort.

I literally acquired this pair of nail clippers from my dog’s groomer of many years. The big thing is not to go anywhere near the quick (the nerve) of the nail. Doggett explains how in her home study package.

Learn to clip dog nails

More about Dog Paw Inspection and Care.

Clipping Your Dog’s Coat

This is the crux and the most important aspect of grooming your dog. You absolutely must know what blade to use, how to handle the clippers, how to ensure the clipper is not overheating (you can burn your dog), and how to properly care for the clipper and blades.

Santa Claus gifted me with a blade carrier tote and some tools of the trade. I love the Andis clipper body and their blades. I don’t have experience with others, but for the several months I have been using them, they have performed incredibly well. Cocker parents and other dog groomers have expressed their delight with Andis clippers and blades to me also.

American Cockers have very thick coats. In learning to groom, part of my private emailing with Doggett included this advice, “If you run the clipper backwards (tail to head vs head to tail) it’s going to take the length down one blade number.  For example, if you run a 4F backwards that length will be that of a 5F clipped normally head to tail length).   It is harder to run the clipper blades backwards too…you have to use more hand/arm strength to push it through the coat.”

dog grooming tools

My best advice is to learn to clip one section of your dog at a time. For two months, I solely worked on my dog’s head, face, muzzle, and ears. Once I felt comfortable, showed Doggett the photos, and corresponded with her, only then did I move on to other parts of his body.

Doggett also has a newsletter that you can receive, chockfull of tips and from clipping tools to shears, de-shedding instruments and more. Here’s an excerpt:

Regarding blade attachments, they do serve a purpose. For my in-home dog grooming purposes, Doggett shared, “It’s much easier to learn with metal blades than blade attachments. Attachments “set the length” but you still need to back comb and complete with a hand scissor finish. ( It’s a couple more steps than the metal blade).  Metal blades…especially the FC’s are finishing blades and require much less scissoring after clipping the coat with them.”

dog grooming blades

Our Favorite Cocker Spaniel Grooming Blades

Face: #10

Top of Head and Ears: #7F

Back: #4F

Legs and Paws: #3 3/4FC

Swiffer and Dex
The actual dog hair from our grooming session.

How to Get Started Grooming Your Dog From Home

Visit the website of All About Grooming.

Compare the different type of grooming courses available.

Sign up for the Groomer’s Tool Box so you can receive the 7 most important tools pet groomers own. (this enabled me to get a start on purchasing tools). It is halfway down the page from All About Grooming.

A Dog Grooming Training Course by Professional Groomers

Pricing is super reasonable at $249.95 but you can get $50 off with a special at this time. Visit the All About Grooming website.

Ask yourself, most importantly, why you want to groom your dog and what you hope to accomplish. For many folks, they simply want to bathe their dog, do paws and nails, and maybe a light clipping but leave the heavy stuff up to the professionals. Doggett’s program is perfect for you.

If you want to really learn how to groom your dog, as I do, and even take it up a notch and do some part-time or full-time grooming work for a career, I do recommend you start with the All About Grooming program and follow the advice of the Doggetts.

Part I In the Series

We reviewed some basics of how to groom your dog at home along with clean up tips in Part I of How to Groom Your Dog at Home.

dog before and after grooming
Before and After

A Cut Above the Rest

For more information on keeping your dog well groomed and healthy, stop by these links:

Dog Parent Guide to Lumps on a Dog

10 Myths of Dog Grooming

Dog Massage: Trend or Treatment

Would you ever groom your own dog or consider doing it?

Comments

  1. My mom used to have a Schnauzer; she groomed him herself and some other people’s dogs too. Me, I’m happy to have short-coated dogs who just need very basic care.

  2. I didn’t realise there was so much to know about grooming and clipping a dog – you’ve done a great job explaining things including those all important safety tips. PS. Love that you could spell DEX in hair when you were done – too funny!

  3. I volunteer for San Diego Spaniel Rescue and regularly groom the fosters we take in. A well groomed cocker is more appealing to potential adopters. It also saves the rescue money. Because I do so much grooming, I invested in two sets of blades. Instead of using a cooling spray, I wrap a Blue Ice block in a towel and lay the hot blades on the ice, rotating them as I clip the dogs. Skip tooth blades are also better for taking out mats. PetEdge.com is also a great website for grooming supplies.

  4. Congratulations on your grooming success! I would love to groom Pierre at home but he is not a fan so I leave it to the professionals. Dexter is such a sweetheart and I’m sure a gentleman when it comes to behaving.

  5. I wish I could groom my dog Phoebe, she’s a havanese/Maltese type mix but although it’s expensive, Grooming is a lot more work & tools than I’m willing to commit to at this point. I’m actually working on clipping her nails, that alone would be a huge plus. I haven’t found the right clipper though, I think the one I had from an inexpensive (a promotional gift) grooming kit may be dull, it doesn’t seem to really work. I need a new one. Dexter looks great in his After photo! I admire that you’re really going all out on this!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  6. Henry doesn’t require much grooming beyond the occasional bath and brushing (except for nail trims, and I bring him to a professional with experience with reactive dogs for that since he has some sort of trauma regarding his feet from his past life), but I know I would love to learn how to do a “real” grooming! My aunt has two schnauzers and invested in a grooming table. She gushes about how it paid for itself super quickly! Can I also mention how calm Dex looks in the bath? He looks as happy as a clam!

  7. Oh the before and after is awesome. I have short haired dogs so I brush them but they haven’t needed to see a groomer – BUT I have tons of friends in my Nosework classes that talk about grooming at home a lot and how much time it takes. One classmate has a Cairn terrier and she goes to great lengths to make sure this little fellow looks stunning. I loved your pic with ALL the tools and I know it takes lots of time and practice – thanks for sharing your process!

  8. Dexter cleans up really well! He is such an adorable guy. This is a cool system. Dog owners could save a lot of money by doing some of their dog grooming at home. It sounds like this kit comes with everything you need to do a reasonably good job too.

  9. Dexter looks great! I didn’t realize people could learn to groom their dogs at home without becoming a full-on groomer. I’m glad my dogs have short fur, though. Just yesterday, I figured out how to use the pet dremel, and they hardly mind it at all. It gradually trims down the nail so I don’t have to worry too much about accidentally cutting the quick.

  10. I groom my dogs at home, i have 3 mini schnauzer. i have several clippers, 3 big ones, and several small ones for the feet and ears, face. i also have a nice pair of scissors i got at the dog show. i have the nail clippers and a dremel but looking to get a cordless dremel. i also have a grooming stand. lots of hair products, mouse, shampoos, dry shampoos, no rinse, my dogs have 5 times as much grooming and beauty things as i do. if you want instructions on how to groom your dog, the akc breed specific has instructions on their website, at least they used to. i hate doing the feathers, and the eyebrows. you have to get them just right. i have been to teaching classes at the dog shows and my breeder showed. me. i dont strip anymore b/c it is too hard on both me and the dogs, very time consuming, although i have several stripping tools. i use tweezers instead of the tweezer pulls to remove hair in the ear. i find this is easier than the pulls.

  11. I cut hair like you cook. I once “trimmed” my husband’s hair with the clippers and it was a disaster. It was a miscommunication, (not totally my fault) but it was terrible. I couldn’t decide if I should cry or laugh, so I cried while laughing. Ever since then, I leave the clippers alone.

  12. For anyone with a dog something like this is going to be a great asset.

    Knowing how to do these things correcly is so important – as is the slow and steady approach with a dog. It might take months and months to get a dog used to it but it will end up being a real success for the dog and family, keeping the dog healthy and comfortable.

    .I am guessing a cat groomer’s kit would come with body armour – right 😉

  13. Fascinating post! I had no idea such training tools existed. You did a fabulous job grooming Dex. I just bathed three dogs this afternoon. I’m okay handing their leashes over to their groomer for a full makeover. Plus, Mr. Henry cops an attitude with his mama when he sees the comb.

  14. I’m seriously considering taking a course about cat grooming. There is an option for an online, extensive course and some one-on-one training. I don’t really want to become a groomer, but would love to work better with my beautiful Persians.

  15. Dex is such a handsome good boy. I can not take Kilo the Pug out for grooming but luckily he doesn’t need much. He gets a bath every now and then which he puts up with from me. I love those nail clippers as I need a big fast pair. Kilo hates anyone touching his feet or nails.

  16. I started my career in grooming by looking after 2 spitz that i would groom for a friend and my own English Cocker Spaniel and then learnt a lot online too. Once you have basic know how it gets easy. Your post is a good first step for novices most dogs are happy to be groomed by their people rather than at the groomers or vets

  17. I like the story of your becoming a dog groomer. Live training is the best to become a good dog groomer. You are using some nice tools for dog grooming. I think the dog will feel comfy with these tools. Dog grooming charge is rising day by day, so if anybody decides to do it himself in his home can save hundreds of dollars. Thanks for your comprehensive post, It’s very helpful.

  18. Fascinating post. Thank for sharing! It is very common for your dog to get nervous when it comes to bath time. Many dogs do not like baths, I know this because my dog runs and hides when I announce that it is bath time. :D. To avoid any kind of problem, I think you should have enough knowledge on how to groom your dog and keep your dog clean and tidy all the time.

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