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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.”
Our Favorite Cocker Spaniel Grooming Blades
Top of Head and Ears: #7F
Legs and Paws: #3 3/4FC
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.
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.
A Cut Above the Rest
For more information on keeping your dog well groomed and healthy, stop by these links: