How to Groom Your Dog

How to groom a dog

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Here is the short version of the first grooming experience for our Yorkie, Sunny, after we adopted her:

  • Drop Sunny off at groomer in the morning (lovely location, friendly attendant.)
  • Wait several hours.
  • Pick Sunny up - minus most of her hair.  ("Is this for sure our dog?" ran through our minds, more than once.)
  • Bring Sunny home.
  • Call the vet after a few hours of anxiously observing our lethargic dog.  "Has Sunny had a stroke?  What's the matter with Sunny?"  (All the while, "Is this really even Sunny?" is still running through our minds.)

The next morning she was herself again.  Sighs of relief.

We learned a few things from that experience, including, consider your dog's personality when choosing a groomer, and don't be vague about how much hair you would like trimmed!

Given Sunny's anxiety, we then decided to try one of the mobile pet vans. The van came to our house.  It was much less stressful, but much more expensive.   

Then one day, in the drug store, of all places, we came upon a young couple with a Yorkie.  The dog was adorable, and I asked where they had her groomed.  "Oh, we groom her ourselves."

"You groom her yourselves?!"   I was astounded (although I'm not sure why, really. Dog grooming is time consuming, and there is an initial learning curve, but it isn't rocket science.  Especially when you only have one breed to learn.)

"Yes," the woman replied,  "we bought a grooming kit.  It's not difficult."

I was immediately on my way to the nearest discount store to buy dog grooming clippers, pet scissors (or thinning shears), and nail clippers,  and for less than the cost of one visit from the mobile pet groomer, I had brand spanking new supplies to beautify Sunny.  This set is similar to one I use for Sunny.  (I especially like that this one has everything in one -- clippers, scissors, nail clippers, comb.)

I learned the actual grooming process by watching the groomer and asking questions while she trimmed Sunny. I also watched videos on YouTube like this excellent one:

  Grooming Guide: Yorkshire Terrier Puppy Trim

My Grooming Process 

(Please note:  I am NOT a professional groomer.  I offer these tips as an amateur guide only. My process may differ from a professional's. Please proceed gently, with caution and care.)

  • First, I bathe Sunny.  Sunny has sensitive skin, so I'm careful about the products I use.  I've been really happy with this shampoo from Burt's Bees. I'm careful to avoid getting soap in her eyes. It's also a good idea to put a cotton ball in each ear.

  • I personally use a blow dryer to dry Sunny's hair, but each dog is different, and I realize some dogs may not respond well to a blow dryer.

  • Next, I use the dog grooming clippers to trim the length. Sunny's "fur" is actually more like human hair, and I don't trim her extremely short these days, especially in the winter. Yorkies have a single layer coat of hair, (which is why Sunny wears a sweater outside when it's chilly and a coat in the winter!  It's not just a fashion statement...)  The directions that came with the clipper were straightforward and simple.

  • I then carefully use the scissors to trim around her tail and  around the face and eyes.  Be particularly careful here!  I use a pet scissors with a rounded tip when I trim Sunny's face and sensitive areas and a thinning shears for the rest. The thinning shears give a more natural look (and hide your mistakes better!)

  • Finally, I trim just the tips of the nails. I'm careful to avoid cutting the quick. 

With practice and caution, I became a very successful groomer substitute.

Now, it's not perfect, mind you.  But, frankly, I think she looks almost as good as when she was professionally groomed.

You can do this!

Have you ever groomed your own dog?


  1. Hello Pam, thank you for sharing. Have a nice day.

  2. Our dog, now deceased for 2 years, used to have "spa days" every month. She got bathed and her nails clipped and all sorts of other things. No haircut though; she was short haired. We had it done at her vet's office and she always loved going.

  3. Sunny is so darling! I'm sure she appreciates the home spa treatment MUCH more than either the mobile groomer or the stationary one! Good for you!!

  4. I appreciate the comments! (Also,I am now going to start calling Sunny's grooming day her "spa day!")

  5. Hmmm. I don't know if that would work for my large, hairy St. Bernard. I think that woukd be a heck of a challenge! Thanks for visiting my blog today.

  6. What a cute dog!

    I would definitely groom my pooch on my own. I bet there are tons of helpful video tutorials, and I bet the experience is much more comforting for the dog.

    Happy Belated Friendship Friday.

  7. Your Sunny is so cute and that is a great photo as well. I don't have a dog but your post has had some good interest so we will feature it on the next Blogger's Pit Stop. Well done.

    1. Thank you, Kathleen! I appreciate the feature!

  8. Hi, Pam. Sunny looks a little bit like my Yorkie mix, Ziggy. I'd love to try this because groomers here want about 50 dollars each time and he sometimes has a reaction to some shampoos. I'm a little scared that I might accidentally cut him.

    1. Yes, grooming is so expensive! I would say to give it a try, but if you are very nervous about it, you may just want to rely on what has been working for you. Also, every dog is different. Sunny stays very still for me, but a jumpy dog would be difficult to groom for sure.

  9. Congrats Pam - you are one of our Featured Guests at Create With Joy this week - loved your article and photo! :-)


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