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Lessons From a Groomer: What Grooming Tools Do I Need at Home For a Short Haired Dog?

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Essentials For Home Dog Bathing

There are a few essentials you need for grooming your short-haired dog at home. Not as many as for a long-haired dog of course, but planning ahead will really help when for when you get started. This article is not meant to be a complete instruction manual on all the steps (I have a whole series that details each step), but is meant to help you pick the right tools, get prepared, and know which order to do things in to be successful. Read on for a list of tools, and then the order in which to tackle grooming your dog at home.

Must Have Bathing Tools!

1. A leash or grooming loop.

2. Bathtub spray adapter or spray nozzle for your hose.

3. Your choice of shampoo.

4. Rubber curry.

5. Flea comb.

6. Towels.

7. Hairdryer or professional blow dryer.

Must Have Grooming Tools!

  1. Bristle brush (or slicker brush for thick-coated breeds).
  2. De-shedding tool.
  3. Cotton balls.
  4. Ear cleaner or witch hazel.
  5. Nail clipper.
  6. Kwik Stop powder.
  7. Dremel tool (optional but highly recommended!).

Which Dremel tool? This one is a great choice.

Set Up Your Grooming Area Beforehand

Setting up your grooming area before grabbing your dog makes the whole process easier on you and them. You won't be trying to hang onto them as you're running around grabbing the stuff you need, and they won't be getting too nervous or excitable wondering what is going on! You can take your time and get things set up so everything is easy to grab from an arm's length.

If you will be grooming your dog in the bathroom set up will be fairly easy. Plug in your hairdryer and Dremel tool now, so you don't have to fuss with it while you've got a wet dog on your hands. Have your towels, tools, shampoo etc. on the counter or floor within easy reach. And most importantly, remember to shut the door once you've started, so your dog doesn't find the escape route and run dripping wet through the house if you lose control!

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If you'll be bathing outside and using the hose, you'll need to get a bit more prepared. Plan out where you will tie up your dog so you will have both hands free for scrubbing. Most people will bathe their dog on the grass in order to not "waste" the water. Have some kind of table nearby for your towels, tools and a chair. Preferably this table will be on concrete or gravel, or at least a few feet away so everything doesn't get wet. Put a spray nozzle on the hose to control water flow and save water. If you are also going to dry and brush your dog outside, bring an extension cord out to your work table for plugging in your dryer and Dremel tool.

Styptic Powder for Nail Bleeds

Order of Grooming Operations

Clean your dog's ears first. If the ears are dirty or oily and this gets onto the sides of their face, cleaning the ears now will give you a chance to wash the yucky stuff off instead of leaving it on a clean coat.

Clip nails, then use the Dremel to sand nails smooth. If your dog has short nails already, try just using the Dremel tool to remove small amounts of length and sand them at the same time. Clipping nails before the bath is important because the dog will naturally assume they are done once the bath is over and therefore be harder to control! Also, if you do accidentally hit the "quick" and make your dog bleed, you can use styptic powder to stop the bleeding, and then any blood or excessive powder can be cleaned up during the bath.

Bathe your dog (using both hands). During the bath you can use the flea comb to look for fleas, and remove eye boogers as needed. Use your rubber curry to massage the shampoo through the hair for a thorough cleaning! After rinsing well, allow your dog to shake several times to get the most water off them as possible.

Dry your dog first with towels. With short-coated breeds, it is okay to rub them vigorously in multiple directions. Gently wipe their face and private areas.

Now dry with the hairdryer on medium heat settings. High heat or constant heat in one area for too long can burn them so be careful. If you can prop your dryer on a table or if you have a stand up fluff dryer its even easier, but I like to use a towel to make like a shield draped behind them to trap warm air flowing around their body. It helps cut down on drying time. Another tip is to rub your hand backwards through the hair as you are drying. This does two things. It can help the water spray up and away from the coat, and simultaneously it lifts the hair to allow the warm air into the coat and shortens drying time. With thick-coated breeds, you'll also want to be brushing while you dry. You can even dry for a few minutes, then brush for a few, then go back to drying. Not every dog needs to be bone dry, but thick coated dogs may harbor a musty smell if they are not dried enough.

Now brush, brush brush! Use the de-shedding tool first, then the bristle brush to finish them off. I think of it like whisking sawdust off a table, this brush will grab those last stray hairs and give a nice finished look. You can also use the bristle brush on the face, head and ears. If your dog is a thick-coated breed, you may also want to buy a slicker brush. It will work better than, and replace the bristle brush for your dog on 90% of their coat.



I hope this helps you feel much more prepared to groom your dog at home. It's not that bathing a short-haired dog is hard, but knowing what to get, and what to do ahead of time can definitely make things easier! Have fun!

  • Lessons From a Groomer, My Whole Series
    This article contains the names, descriptions and links to my entire series entitled "Lessons From a Groomer". This series is meant to give you insider knowledge and skills that will help you make the most out of grooming your own dog at home.

© 2022 Willow Mattox

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