A Professional Groomer’s Guide To Stay-At-Home Grooming


Some pet services have been deemed essential during COVID-19, such as boarding kennels and dog daycares. Grooming salons, however, have been forced to temporarily shut their doors. There are many ways dog parents can keep their dogs clean, comfortable, and snuggly fresh during the stay-at-home order. We asked a professional groomer and pet salon owner to weigh in with his advice.

Image Courtesy GG’s Pet Salon

GG’s Pet Salon’s Owner is Our Expert

Gavin Hardy is a professional certified groomer who recently opened his own business, GG’s Pet Salon near Phoenix, Arizona. Gavin got into grooming in 2012 when he started as a bather at PetSmart. He enjoyed the work right away and sought training to gain the necessary skills needed to become a full-service groomer. After working for many years in corporate salons he decided to make the leap and open his own business. He recognized a need for a storefront dog salon in his community and his long list of clients agreed.

Gavin opened GG’s Pet Salon in March of this year, just before COVID-19 forced so many small businesses to temporarily suspend services. Until the nonessential business ban lifts and Gavin can serve his clients again, he is offering support in the best way he can: with tips to help us safely groom our fur babies at home.

Image Courtesy GG’s Pet Salon

Why You Should Groom Your Dog At Home

You and your dog are undoubtedly snuggling up more often than usual during this time. Regular at-home grooming will keep your dog smelling great, feeling soft, and shedding less. Gavin recommends that some basic grooming practices be performed regularly at home, now and between grooming appointments after the pandemic passes.

Brushing and Combing

The key to avoiding mats, reducing shedding, and keeping your dog soft is regular brushing and combing, especially before bathing. There are different brushes and combs to use depending on your dog’s hair type.

  • Slicker Brush: Used for detangling curly-coated and long-haired wavy or straight-coated dogs. Simply brush the coat with the grain, applying adequate pressure to get through the coat, but not so firmly that you brush all the way down to the skin. Gavin told iHeartDogs, “Aggressive brushing will lead to your pets skin getting red and irritated. Your pet will always let you know if you are doing this correctly.”
  • Greyhound Comb: This style of comb gets to the undercoat and should be used after you use a slicker brush to get through the topcoat. Angle the comb slightly, get it down to the root, and comb through. If you can’t get through with the comb, you need to use the slicker brush more. 
  • Shedding Brush: Used for dogs who shed excessively after you have used the slicker brush and the comb can go through without any catching. When it comes to short-haired dogs, Gavin says, “Use the de-shedding tool very lightly.” 
Image Courtesy GG’s Pet Salon

Bathing Your Dog at Home

Many dog parents are bathing their own dogs for the first time in years, or ever, during the COVID-19 quarantine. It’s not that these dogs have been unbathed! It’s just that many dog parents rely on professional groomers to do this for them. Here are a few pointers to help make the most of your at-home bath time.

  • Wash your dog in the tub, shower, or outside if the water from your hose is warm enough. It’s especially comfortable to use a shower with a hand-held shower attachment.
  • Brush, comb, and if necessary use a shedding tool on your dog before you wash them.
  • If your dog has any mats at all do not bathe them! Gavin told iHeartDogs, “If your pet has some mats, or is completely matted, getting them wet will make it much worse and tighten the mats. Make sure to get your pet as tangle-free as possible before a bath, but do it safely. Do not rip or pull at mats to try to brush them out. This will tear your dog’s skin.”
  • Use a Zoom Groom during the bath for your short-haired dog. Gavin says, “Just gently rub this rubber tool on your pet’s fur like a bar of soap. It will feel like 18 little fingers gently petting them at once and will pull out loose shedding hair.
  • Choose a dog shampoo that smells pleasing. Gavin has been using the Espree brand of shampoos for years, particularly the hypo-allergenic formula, which he uses in the salon. 
  • Make sure you dry your dog completely! If you don’t, that distinct wet dog smell will quickly permeate your entire home.
Image Courtesy GG’s Pet Salon

Do Not Try These Grooming Practices at Home

Safety is the top concern when grooming your dog at home. There are some grooming techniques that really need to be left to professionals or need to be performed with extreme caution and care.

Trimming

Even though your dog may look a little shaggy, now is not the time to test your ability to shave a dog’s fur. Please do not attempt to cut your pet’s hair. Gavin told us, “This is very dangerous. Us groomers have many blades, in many lengths, with many attachments for a bevy of reasons. Please do not attempt to cut your own pet’s hair.” There are several reasons this is a bad idea.

  • Most people don’t have the correct tool. Dog clippers are not the same as beard trimmers. Your groomer has the correct tool designed especially for use on dogs with a variety of attachments chosen with care for your particular pet.
  • Most of us don’t have the experience. It takes years of practice to get good at using clippers. In fact, when he was studying, Gavin had to trim the coat of 100 dogs before becoming certified!
  • Your dog will most likely get hurt if you try to trim them at home. It requires a lot of technical skill and groomers have to be extremely careful not to cut dog’s tuck ups, pads, ears, or necks. 

Nail Clipping

There are some people who can safely trim their dog’s nails at home but if you have never trimmed your dog’s nails, it is harder than it looks. It is very easy to trim the nail too much, cutting the embedded vein (the quick) causing a lot of bleeding. Your dog’s nails can probably wait until you see your professional groomer again. If you must do it at home, here are some tips to make it safer and easier.

  • There’s not one simple nail trimmer that will help them avoid the quick, it’s all in how you do it. For this reason, your dog may be better off just waiting to see a professional. 
  • Do not use a “guillotine style” nail clipper as they only have an edge on one side, which just pushes the nail. Use dog nail clippers that have two edges and cut the nail from both sides.
  • Gavin says, “If you cut them too short, a pinch of corn starch held onto the bleeding nail will help it coagulate and stop. Professional groomers use something called “quick stop (styptic powder) but most people don’t have that on hand at home.”
Image Courtesy GG’s Pet Salon

Stay Calm, Offer Treats, and Be Gentle

When you first attempt to groom your dog at home, it may not go as smoothly as you’d hoped. Gavin told us, “Go slow. If your pet is not used to regular grooming/brushing/bathing they might be wary of what you are doing. Be gentle, speak softly, and reinforce good behavior with treats. ALWAYS treat your pet with love and care and respect when home grooming. This makes them enjoy the process and makes them well behaved when coming in for professional services.”

Keeping your dog well-groomed will help make your time together at home more satisfying. Keep your dog safe by waiting to see your professional groomer for anything beyond brushing, combing, and washing.

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