Groomed CockerspanielThe picture at left is the same dog, one hour apart. If you don’t believe it, just watch the video of the grooming process I’ve posted here.

Looks easy in the video, but I have to tell you, the first time I tried to groom our Cocker Spaniel, he tried repeatedly to hang himself from the leash I had around his neck. I gave up on ever doing it myself, and my sister and I took him to trained pet groomers for years until I couldn’t see paying $40-$50 every time he needed a trim. That’s when I went online and bought a dog grooming kit off eBay for twenty some dollars (not knowing I could have gotten a new one for the same price) and trying again.
My first successful attempt at grooming our dog happened in the bathroom. I put our dog, Fabio, on the bathroom counter thinking he needed to be elevated like they do at the groomer’s shop. And I had treats. Lots of them. I wanted to reward him every few minutes for letting me save money.

The grooming went much smoother than I anticipated. Our dog had apparently been “tamed” by the professional groomers, and other than his constant attempts to get at the treats, he was a perfect subject.
DIY Dog Grooming
This video is my fifth try at grooming Fabio. It went much more smoothly than the first time. Perhaps it’s because I decided it’s a bad idea to have treats or even mention the word treats before the job is done. I was right. No, you probably won’t get professional groomer’s results at home—as I didn’t—but it will do the job of keeping the dog free of chit grass and other nasty summer gunk.

Dog Grooming/Clipping Tips

1. Prepare your dog physically. Bathing your dog will make the grooming clippers go through the dog’s fur much more easily. Brushing the burs and tangles out of the fur is also very helpful.

2. Prepare your dog psychologically. It may take several days to get your dog used to electric grooming clippers. They’re scary to dogs, so spend some time sitting with your dog, petting her, and occasionally touching her with the clippers turned on. Do this several days in a row until your dog doesn’t bolt away from the clippers.

Use scissor in between toes

Grooming scissors

3. Always groom in the direction of hair growth. It’s just a given.

4. Use a small scissors (groomer’s shears) for between the dog’s toes. Trained groomers know how to use the clippers for everything, but I found it much easier and less scary for the dog to use a pair of hair shears.

Nail cutters

Dog nail cutters

5. Clip your dog’s toenails a little at a time. Be careful not to cut into the pink marrow as you get near the paw. You can always use a dremmel to sand the tip of the toenails down more slowly.

6. Give your dog a big treat at the end of the grooming session. Don’t speak of the treat, and don’t show it to your dog before you’re done, or he’ll fidget the whole time.

Hair of the dog coat

Felted Dog Coat

I have a lot of respect for professional dog groomers and think it’s a good idea—even if you decide to tackle grooming at home—to use a professional groomer a few times before you try it yourself. I really don’t think it would have worked for me if I hadn’t.

P.S. When you’re done grooming your dog, you can use his hair/fur to make a felted coat for him!

P.P.S. If you want a good laugh, watch me groom my new Coton de Tulear puppy for the first time:

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