By Jacque Reid, Editor In Chief

I love my dogs, Sugar-Shane and Zoe, with all my heart, and they know it, lol.  They are beyond spoiled. My boy, Sugar-Shane, made sure I noticed how unhappy he was with going to the groomer.   So I gave in and switched to a groomer that made house calls.  My girl, Zoe, didn’t like it, but she rolled with it.  Sugar was pure drama.  I made sure I was home when they were being groomed and they were never hurt, so I decided to stick with the home groomer.  Then we discovered Sugar had a heart condition and the doctors recommended he stay as calm and comfortable as possible.  That’s when I decided to groom them at home.

I will admit, I’m still have a ways to go before perfecting my grooming skills, but I’m not that bad.  I do know my dogs prefer I do the grooming, but they still don’t like it.  I make it much more bearable by giving them breaks between the comb out and trimming before the bath, the bath/dry, and the comb out/trimming after the bath.  And we incorporate treats throughout the process.  (I told you they were spoiled).

While grooming your pets will probably make them a bit happier than someone else doing it and save you money, it isn’t easy.  I learned by trial and error and wanted to share some tips that will should keep you from making any major mistakes when it comes to grooming your best friend.

1.  Make sure you really want to do this.  It is a lot of work; it takes a chunk of time; and it is very easy to get frustrated by what you get wrong early on.  But I really love the sense of accomplishment I feel and how much happier my dogs are that someone who really cares about them is doing the grooming (that way they can get treats or a little break when desired).

2.  Youtube is your friend.  The first thing I did was go to the computer and watch several videos on how to groom my type of dog  This is important because it will help you decided  your process, technique and tools when grooming.  There will probably be many videos to choose from.  Watch as many as you can and take notes.  I only chose people whose dogs seemed calm with the process.

3.  Invest in the proper tools.  Your local pet store probably has plenty of clipper sets, scissors, brushes, combs, etc., for you to get started.  Again, I turned to You Tube to get an idea of what I needed to buy.  I am sure there are several books that will list the tools that you need.  Make sure you pay attention to the tools you will need for the type and size of your dog.  When it comes to clippers, make sure you get the right one… especially if you have a smaller dog or a dog with thick hair.  Also make sure you properly take care of the clippers because they will dull really fast.  When it comes to scissors, take the time to find ones with rounded instead of pointy ends.  This is safer for the dog when you are cutting around their eyes or if they make sudden moves (which will happen).  And if your dog’s hair gets tangled often, like my pups, invest in the proper steel brushes and combs that will take out those tangles and knots.  Be gentle. If your dog has long hair, you’ll need a hair dryer with adjustable temps so it doesn’t get too hot for the dog.

4.  Be careful and TAKE YOUR TIME around sensitive areas.

The Eyes… be careful of getting soap in their eyes.  In fact, use a shampoo that’s gentle to the eyes.    Also, be careful when cutting the hair around the eyes and avoid getting hair in the eyes.

The Ears… avoid getting water in the ears.  Some folks gently place cotton in their dogs ears and remove it right after bathing.

The Tongue… my dogs love to lick their tongues out when I am cutting around their noses and mouths.

The Paws and Nails… I HATE cutting my dogs nails, but it’s necessary.  Just cut the tips and file them down a bit.  Do this regularly and you’ll be fine.  Take inventory of you dogs’s  ‘extra toes’.  You want to be careful when using he clippers or scissors so you don’t make any mistakes.   The Privates… how would you feel is some one was cutting and clipping around your ‘who-ha’?  All I have to say is go slow in case the dog makes sudden moves. This goes for boys and girls.

5.  Be prepared to be taken advantage of… and give in a little.   Most dogs hate being bathed or groomed.  Be understanding and patient.

6.  Be ready to ask for help.  I cut my dogs tongue once and freaked out.  Another time I cut a nail too short.  Both times… I drew blood.  I called the vet who told me exactly what to do and talked me through it.  Fortunately, I didn’t do any major damage.  Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.