Groom Your Own Dog | Do It Yourself Or Hire A Professional

I have owned 6 dogs throughout most of my adult life and I am all to familiar with what it takes to keep your dog groomed and clean on a regular basis.

My dogs are the children I never had.  They are part of my family and with that comes the responsibility of making sure that they are clean, maintained, looking and feeling their best.

We have all seen dogs that are filthy and not well cared for, and it really bothers me.  I feel like owning a dog is a privilege not a right.  Keeping your dog healthy, clean and well looked after is a very important part of your dog’s life.

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You know how you feel when you can’t have a shower for days or go to get your haircut.  Imagine how they feel when those things are neglected and they are not maintained.  I truly believe, it can affect how your dog feels about themselves.

When you decide its time to get your new puppy or new dog groomed, the difficult decision of the grooming journey begins.

Are you going to groom your own dog, or take them to a doggy salon?

Decision time

Deciding whether to groom your dog yourself, or take them to the salon, can be a tough decision. Sometimes, I think it can really depend on the breed of dog that you have, or the size of your dog.

Taking your dog to a professional dog grooming salon has many benefits for your dog.  It can be a wonderful experience while also teaching them how to behave when they aren’t in your care.

Having a stranger groom them for the first time can be a difficult one.  Puppies especially can be a handful, as they don’t always have the best manners when someone is poking and prodding them.

I think it is important from the beginning to take your dog to a groomer for the first few years at least.  Normally a puppy doesn’t get groomed til they have all their shots and are safe to be around other dog’s.


dog grooming table
Dog Grooming Table

Going to a groomer with your puppy can obviously subject your puppy to a bunch of different dogs.  All the excitement and distraction is a challenge for a new puppy, so having a professional groomer tending to your dog, can be very helpful.

Now maybe you have decided that you want to tackle the grooming yourself.  Many people do take that task on themselves and do very well at it.

It isn’t for everyone though.  Dogs are unpredictable and can be a real challenge to first off even get into the tub. Think really hard about what it will take if you decide to tackle this task yourself.

Tools to groom at home

Now if you have decided to start grooming your dog yourself, you are going to need to buy a few things to make sure that you are set up properly.

First off, you will need a few items to get your home grooming going:

  • good pair of grooming scissors
  • a clipper
  • curved shears
  • stainless steel comb
  • no sit haunch holder
  • nail trimmers
  • grooming table
  • shampoo
  • dog hair dryer
  • dog tub or regular tub
  • ear cleaning solution
  • cotton balls
  • styptic powder (nails)

Many of these items can be bought very easily from sites like Amazon.  You may not need all of these items listed, but you will need some of these items for sure if you are planning on doing your own grooming.


Different dog’s, different needs

Every dog has different needs when it comes to grooming.  Depending on the breed of dog that you have, will go a long way in determining what type of grooming needs your dog will have.

Obviously if you have a dog that has long hair versus a dog that has curly hair that mats, or just a dog that is considered a short hair dog.  All of these dogs have a completely different need when it comes to bathing, cutting and grooming their hair.


Both of my dogs, have Poodle in them and for that reason their hair is quite curly hair and has a tendency to matt up when the hair gets to long.  Although my dogs do not shed, we still try to comb them in between grooming, to avoid lots of hair matting.  If you don’t, it makes it that much more difficult to get them groomed.  You don’t want to have to subject your dog to hours of torture trying to get those mats out if we didn’t keep up the regular combing maintenance.

For these type of dogs, the degree of grooming is much more difficult than say a dog like a Beagle who has short hair. Yes those types of dogs do shed, but you can easily run a comb through it.  You don’t have to worry about matting hair with these type of dog.

Whether you have dogs that shed, or don’t shed, bathing the dog regularly is still super important.  Now they don’t get bathed every week or anything, because that can cause your dog to get dry skin. Their hair provides a natural oil that stops them from becoming dry.  If you bath them to often, you can deplete that natural oil from their hair. Typically, bathing them every 3 months or so is recommended.

Bathing your dog is an important part of grooming, but so is having their nails clipped frequently.  Their nails grow as fast as our nails, so keep that in mind if you are thinking it doesn’t need to be done that often.

When a dogs nails start to get to long, it can actually hurt them to walk.  They put all their weight on their paws, and when the nails grow to long, they can start to curl over, which means they are walking on the actual nail rather than the paw pads.

Our big dog Finn has nails that I swear grow like weeds.  He gets groomed every 10-12 weeks and his nails need to be cut about every few weeks.  Leaving it til he gets groomed again is just too long in between to have to wait.

Do You Groom Your Own Dog

Step by step

You may think that the first step of grooming is to bathe your dog, but the truth is you first need to brush out all the loose dirt and grime.  This is also when you will need to get any matts out that your dog may have, especially around the beard and mouth area.  Getting into those areas can be a challenge, so having a well behaved dog makes this so much easier.

The next thing that you would do is take care of any pre-trimming or clipping of their hair.

120x240 kingkanine
Then run the bath and make sure to have a good hypoallergenic dog shampoo and conditioner.  You don’t want to use human shampoo and you don’t want to use anything that has a perfume scent that could cause any type of allergy to your dog.  I have always used a dog shampoo that has oatmeal in it. It helps promote healing and re-moisturize sensitive dry skin.

Be sure to rinse your dog thoroughly to make sure to get all the soap out.  Left over soap residue, can cause dry and itchy skin.

Once you have finished bathing your dog, use towels to dry off the worst of the water and then plug in the dog blow dryer or human blower with the setting to no heat to blow dry the dogs hair.

Next up is cleaning the dogs ear’s with an otic solution and cotton ball or pad.  Making sure to get all the dirt from their ears.

Cutting a dogs nails, can be a very tricky thing to do.  The toenail itself is made up of 2 things, the nail itself and the quick, which is the pink area that brings the blood supply to the nail.  If you happen to cut the quick, be prepared for it to bleed quite a bit.  To stop the bleeding you would need to have styptic powder handy to apply to the nicked nail.

The last part of nail maintenance that maybe required, is using a dremel like tool, to file down the sharp edges of the freshly cut nail. This helps smooth out the nail.

We now are getting to the end of this process, we would now make sure to brush out the dry hair and do any final hair clipping that is required to get the final cut you are looking for.

Depending on what kind of dog you have, will depend on how hard the cutting of the hair will be.  Most dogs are clipped down with a clipper, but things like a beard, their ears and even their face around the eyes can be very intricate cutting.  Working around the eyes you need to be sure to be extra cautious.

Home or Salon

The decision of grooming at home or at a doggy salon is totally up to you.  I mentioned before different breeds are easier to groom than others.  If you have a low maintenance dog that is easy to trim up and clean then why not do it at home.

When you are starting with them as a puppy, you want to make sure that you get your dog used to being bathed and groomed at an early age.

One trick we did when our dogs were puppies was to get into the habit of touching their paws and wiping them when they come in from outside.  Just simply to get them used to having someone handling their paws.

Nobody wants a dog that won’t let you touch their paws or do any type of grooming or maintenance.  We have all seen dogs that try to pull their paw away or even nip at you.  You want to avoid this type of behavior as quick as possible.

My dogs, if I am being honest, both have pretty high maintenance hair, so I leave it up to the professionals.  They both have beards and tricky curly hair to cut, so because of that we take them to a dog grooming salon.

Our boys are both so well behaved at the doggy salon that we are constantly getting told by groomers, that they are a dream to groom.  They literally just stand their and let the groomer do what she needs to do.

Boo with a fresh haircut

The other tough issue for us is that Finn is about 55 lbs and can be a bit heavy to get in and out of our tub at home.

That is the other issue that you want to make sure you think about before you decide to groom your dog at home.  It is always great when they are young and small, but as the dog grows bigger, it can get more difficult to lift them up and down into a bath tub.

Cleaning up little things in between the 3-month grooming, we do tackle on our own.  Things like trimming around their eyes and mouth, or even the paw hair in between the paw pads. That can get long and cause their feet to become slippery.  Usually just trimming it a bit shorter can stop that from happening.

When my boys get groomed, they always come back running in all excited for mom to see how good they look.  They are so funny! Dogs get a real burst of energy when they are all clean and fresh.

Leaving your dog unkept and dirty, can even affect how they feel about themselves.  When a dog gets neglected, they can start to fall in to a state of depression and seem very gloomy. It is extremely important to please look after your dogs appearance and well-being.  They both go together.  I hope this article helps you decide if you are going to groom your own dog, or leave it to the professionals.  Best of luck with whatever you choose to do!


10 thoughts on “Groom Your Own Dog | Do It Yourself Or Hire A Professional”

  1. I have a 2 yr old Malshi named Ponyboy. He is a rascal. He acts perfectly for the groomer but it just cost so much to have him groomed every 3 weeks. At home when I try to simply bath him, he is constantly trying to jump out of the tub, screeching, splashing, and all around acting a fool. Then I try to cut his nails and he squirms so badly that honestly I have cut to short a few times which makes me feel horribly. I know I am not a professional groomer but I would really like to learn their secret. Do you have any tips or tutorials to help those with difficult pets specifically?

    • Hi Charity,

      Thank you for sharing your comments I really appreciate it. I love that you are sharing your dog grooming stories.  Some dogs are just so difficult to do at home it’s easier and less stress to just take them to the professionals. 

      Grooming is expensive, I agree with you in that. We pay $100 or more for Finn, but unfortunately I just can’t lift him in and out of the tub and I find it just to stressful to do. 

      If you really want to learn how to groom, have you ever considered taking a grooming class. I know most cities have some available options for learning how to groom.  That might be your best bet.  

      I hope this helps, and thanks again for sharing.


  2. Hi Coralie – I am with you 100%…if you are going to have a dog you MUST take the time to love and care for them. It is sad to see dogs that are missing a little TLC! I love dogs, we used to have a husky and she was so beautiful…we miss her. We used to give her a bath and groomed her at home but it was a lot of work and challenging at times. After reading your post and if we decide to get another dog (probably a lab) I think we may consider bringing the dog to a professional salon. Can you comment a little more about the different pricings? How much would it cost for a large dog like a lab? Also, if I decide to wait until the dog is fully grown how do the dogs handle the adjustment especially if they are not used to going to a salon? Thanks for your post!

    • Hi Jeff,

      I have to agree and say Huskies are such beautiful dogs.  It is so hard when they are gone. It is just such a tough loss to go through. I have been through it, so I know how you feel. 

      My Labradoodle Finn who is 55 lbs costs anywhere from $90-$120 depending on the salon.  Boo on the other hand is 10 lbs and cost around $55-$65.  Every salon is a bit different. Plus they may charge more if the dog has lots of matts to get out or hasn’t been well taken care of. 

      I hope this information helps. I really appreciate you sharing your story with me.  Thank you for your comments.

      Best of luck if you do decide to get another dog.


  3. Coralie, I used to groom at Petco, and I second your disgust at pet parents who let their dogs go too long without proper cleaning! I also didn’t like it when pet parents didn’t research how to cut dog nails, and clipped the quick! They hated having me anywhere near their paws after that. 🙁
    I think this is super encouraging for pet parents to get started, and I highly encourage them to get going while the dog is young. (Same with tooth brushing!) Thank you for your really appropriate and helpful article! 😀

    • Hi Hilary,
      Thank you so much for your comments. You and I are on the same page with neglectful parents.
      Parent think that they want to try to cut their dogs paws and the you are right they cut the quick, the dog then becomes terrified.
      The key to a well behaved dog is starting early just like you said. It is easier to train from scratch then retrain a dog that has bad habits.
      I really appreciate you input on this post.

  4. I always take my dog to doggy salon. It’s faster (I don’t have enough experience), more convenient and I don’t need to store all of the items that you mentioned.

    • Thanks for you comments on my post. There is a ton of stuff required to do it yourself for sure. It is not for everyone and that’s why for many people salons are the way to go. Way less stressful and for some dogs, it is just easier.

  5. Hey Coralie,
    It’s really interesting to know how to groom your dog. Most importantly I like your comment in the last when you say that it is important not to neglect your dog, as it may lead to depression in them.
    Pets and animals I think, have a similar nature like humans. Thanks for giving some great tips on how to and when to bathe your dog and how to groom a dog face. Simple tips like this go way long when you deal with your dog.
    Also, great advice on products that one should use for grooming a dog.


    • Hello Shubhangi,
      I am really glad that you found my post helpful. Thank for your comments.
      I think it’s important to make sure that if people really want to groom their dog at home that they realize they need some key items to make it possible to do.
      You are right when you say dogs are like humans and they are so much happier when they are clean and well kept.


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