If you’ve just purchased some professional dog clippers, it’s time to try them on. If this is your first time grooming your dog at home, you may have some apprehension but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
Taking your pooch to the groomers every time that they need a trim can be quite the hassle, not to mention, it gets pretty expensive. We’ve come up with ten surefire tips for going DIY and clipping your dog at home.
As the summer draws to a close, so too do the delightfully sunny days, dry weather, and clean paws! Autumn is creeping in, and it’s the perfect time to get prepped for the winter ahead. At the top of many pet owners to do list – grooming Fido. That way he’ll have less fur to coat in mud on the morning walk this winter!
1. Watch The Pros at Work
Before diving straight in, it’s important to do your research. If you’re switching from using a groomer to clipping at home; it may be worth having a chat with your current groomer and asking for their tips. Don’t bluntly tell them you’re never coming back, but ask for some tips for your inexistent friend who is using dog clippers at home.
Alternatively, YouTube is a fantastic resource. With many grooming pros offering instructional videos. Some tutorials on YouTube are breed-specific, while others are very much generalized.
2. Start With a Blank Canvas
It’s important to groom, bathe, and completely dry your dog before starting to clip. Attempting to trim a dirty, or wet dog can result in the pulling of some hair. Overall, it may end up hurting your dog a little which will make the whole home grooming experience a bad one. The last thing you want to do is induce anxiety in dogs whenever you whip those clippers out their pouch!
Drying dogs can be done using an actual dog dryer but they aren’t cheap, so you may prefer to go with air-drying for an hour or two. Never use a human hairdryer, they are too hot for dogs and may burn them.
3. Get The Best Dog Clippers
Having the right equipment will not only make your job easier, but it will result in a much better aesthetic.
Generally speaking and here again, you should only use pet-specific clippers. The reasons why are because dog clippers have been specially designed to remain cool for longer, to vibrate less, and to emit a lower volume of motor noise. Using regular human or beard trimmers could nip your dog’s hair on top of stressing them out (or even burning their skin.)
Brand wise, we’ve done an in-depth guide of Wahl vs Andis dog clippers, the two biggest brands in pet grooming salons. I personally love the cordless Andis Super AGR+ and Wahl Motion Lithium Ion Clippers. They aren’t the cheapest, though, but they offer the most amazing quality of cut both for bulk work and finishing touches.
4. Don't Be Afraid To Ask For Help
When you’re first starting out, this is a new experience for you and your dog. Asking a friend to assist is always a good idea! They can be a great help in comforting your dog while you get to work clipping, or by holding him still. You could even make it a “buddy-up” program, where you help them clip their dog when the time comes!
If you are starting with a young puppy rather than an adult, you may need a bit of time getting your puppy accustomed to the noise, the vibrations, and the heat. Having somebody next to you handing him treats throughout the session will most definitely help with that.
5. Keep On Top Of Things
As with anything, it’s much easier to freshen up your dog with a quick trim, rather than having to start from scratch and do the entire bulk trim again. Letting your dog’s hair grow for too long is a guaranteed way to overwhelm you, your clippers, and your patience.
The timeline does vary by breed and for each individual, but on average, trimming your pooch every six to twelve weeks will do the trick. Adding your scheduled future grooming sessions onto your calendar is a great way to remind yourself! A few dog owners simply decide to do trim their dog on the first or last day of each month so it’s clear and regularly done.
6. Strange Feelings and Noises
As explained above, when introducing clippers to a young dog, it’s important to take it slow. Let him get used to the noise and vibrations of the clippers before you start clipping.
Start off by taking the blades out of the clipper, and rubbing him with the clipper as though it were a brush. Once he’s comfortable with this, you can switch them on, without the blades, and rub him with them again. Remember to praise him the entire time for accepting this, and have treats ready to reward his behavior. If he seems nervous, slow down the process even more.
People owning dog trimmers at home will often train the puppy to enjoy the noises of clippers, hoovers and hair-dryers by simply turning them on in the other room, or in the same room but distantly. And day after day, get them closer and closer. Before you even know it, your pup will not mind sleeping while it’s running!
Worst case, you can read our recent blog post reviewing the best quiet dog clippers out there!
7. Breed Standards
Different breeds usually need different clips, check YouTube and The Kennel Club website for guidelines to make sure you are still conforming to your dog’s breed standard. This is especially important if you’re planning on showing your dog, or if you’re aiming for the cutest pooch on Instagram!
Remember that although breed standards are an official set of guidelines, their interpretation is up to judges and your peers. First and foremost, your dog should look good for you, and only then to the outsiders.
Also, avoid trying to imitate celebrity dogs or dogs you see on social media, these are usually very much groomed by professional and very expensive dog groomers. They also use some fancy products to top everything up, so refocus on your own dog, not others!
8. Clip In The Right Direction
You must clip your dog’s coat in the same direction as the hair is growing. Indeed, cutting against the hair could irritate your dog’s skin and pull hair instead of cutting it. This one is a definite must-follow tip if you don’t want to end up with a disaster.
As a rule of thumb, it’s easier to start on the larger areas; for example, most home groomers start clipping their dog’s back, working their way towards the smaller areas. If you feel uncomfortable clipping your dog’s face and sensitive areas, grab yourself a pair of grooming scissors and thinning shears!
9. Keeping It Sharp
Sharpening the blades regularly will help the clippers live longer and it will avoid them pulling your dog’s hair!
To sharpen, clean the blades thoroughly, use oil, and remove any rust with a blade wash if necessary. Then run the blades over a sharpening stone; the rule of thumb is to keep sharpening until they look shiny.
At some point, it will be time to change blades, so perhaps think of upgrading to ceramic blades for a much better quality of cut and cutting experience overall. Depending on the brand of trimmers you own, you will have access to a particular range of blades. Be sure to know what blades are compatible with your equipment (not all blades fit all clippers as explained in our free dog clipper blades guide.)
10. Keeping It Cool
Many people are unaware of the dangers of skin burns from overheated clippers blades. Remember that towards the end of the session, the blades may get hotter than at the start, so let them cool down before clipping sensitive areas including genitals, paws, and head.
One trick is to turn off the clipper mid-clip, then touch them to see whether they are becoming overly warm. If they are, you can swap out the blades. Or place the blade on a metal surface to cool before continuing to clip.
Give it a go, and don’t worry if it takes a little longer. Make sure to have treats at hand if you’re expecting your dog to stand patiently for a while! As with anything, practice makes perfect. You shouldn’t expect your dog to look fresh out of the grooming parlor your first time wielding a pair of clippers.
Having said that, if you’re prepared to buy the right equipment. Put in the research and practice time, you could become a proficient dog clipper in no time.
In the meantime, here’s a quick checklist of other upkeep that you might want to think about.
Proper Pooch Maintenance Checklist
- Groom Daily ✓
- Clean Ears Weekly ✓
- Brush Teeth Weekly ✓
- Bathe Monthly ✓
- Trim Nails Every Two Months ✓