My Standard Poodle, Wade, is a wonderful guy. He’s an expert cuddler, a social butterfly who loves all people and animals, and he’s always making my husband and I laugh with his funny expressions and mischievous antics; he’s only 1 and ½ years-old, so he still has a lot of puppy spunk!
He’s a really great dog. However, he’s also a big dog — 56 lbs. at his last check-up — and having a large dog comes with its costs, one of which is expensive grooming. Now, full disclosure: I live in Los Angeles, where prices may be higher because it is a big city. Nevertheless, the first time we took Wade to a professional groomer, they charged $70 for the works. As he’s grown and gained weight, that price has gone up, and a full groom now costs $100. Ouch.
Poodles need to be brushed and groomed regularly to keep their thick, curly, ever-growing hair clean and free of mats. Knowing that we were looking at spending $100 every 6 weeks or so, we decided to learn how to groom at home.
At first it was challenging; especially with a puppy, we dealt with a lot of wiggling and escape attempts.
Over time, however, Wade got more comfortable with being groomed, and we’ve learned some tricks along the way that make the whole process a lot easier. So without further adieu, here are 5 of our favorite at home grooming tricks and tips.
1. Brush First, and Use The Right Kind of Brush
Trying to brush out wet, tangled hair is no fun. The best thing that you can do for your dog’s coat is brush it out regularly (once a week or more, depending on what kind of hair they have), and you should also give your pal a thorough once over with a brush before bathing/grooming to loosen mats, tangles, and check for fleas, ticks, foxtails, burrs, or other foreign matter.
The kind of brush that you use is important, and will depend on your dog’s hair.
- Slicker brushes have thin, stainless steel pins that work to remove mats and tangles. They are perfect for dogs with medium-to-long or curly-haired breeds (like Wade!)
- Pin brushes look like brushes that we humans use. Pin brushes are less effective at working through tangles than Slicker brushes, so they are better suited to dogs with naturally smooth hair (like Yorkshire Terriers) or any dog that is brushed regularly and thus doesn’t have mats or tangles. They can also be used as a finishing brush.
- Bristle Brushes can help to reduce shedding and can be used on all dog breeds, depending on the length and spacing of the bristles. For example, if you have a dog with a long coat, the bristles should be long and widely spaced.
2. Use A Detachable Shower Head
Once we figured this one out, we couldn’t believe that it hadn’t occurred to us before. Before using a detachable shower head, we would use a pitcher or Tupperware bowl to wet Wade down. Wade has extremely thick hair, so fully wetting his body and washing off soap required multiple, tiring scoops of water. We decided to pick up a detachable shower head for $18 at a home improvement store, and washing Wade has never been easier. Just be sure that you get one with enough length to reach your pup — ours has an 8 foot hose.
3. Get A Better Lather and Save Money By Diluting Soap
If you try to squeeze soap directly onto your dog, you’ll end up using a lot more than you need, and soap can be expensive (unless you make your own at home!) Instead, put a bit of soap into a squeeze bottle or container (like a Tupperware), fill it up with water, mix it around, and squirt or pour the mixture over your dog. You’ll get more mileage out of your soap and a much better lather, too.
4. Desensitize Your Dog To Clippers
Ah yes, clippers. Wade was NOT too pleased the first time he heard and felt clippers. Clippers are often noisy, and the sensation is unnatural — like a strange vibration. Before using clippers to groom your dog, get them familiar with the sounds and feelings so they won’t be afraid. Turn the clippers on and give your dog a treat. Touch the body of the clipper gently to different parts of your dog (without actually removing any hair) and offer a treat. Do this once a day leading up to grooming. One note: be sure to introduce the clippers to your dog’s legs at some point; the legs are the most sensitive parts of many dogs (this is certainly the case for Wade).
5. Use Corn Starch For A Nicked Toenail
Even with lots of practice and the best intentions, chances are you will draw blood from time to time when trimming your pet’s nails. You can stop the bleeding with styptic pads or powder purchased from the pet store, or you can do like we do, and use corn starch. Corn starch quickly stops bleeding by causing a clot at the site of the wound. Simply put some corn starch into a bowl and dip your dog’s nicked nail into it. Let the corn starch sit on the nail for a while before washing it off. To avoid a starchy mess while you wait, put a sock over your dog’s foot.
So those are some of our tips! What are yours? Leave a comment below and let us know! In addition, if you’re into saving money by grooming at home, you might also be interested in PetPlus. With PetPlus, you can save on your pet’s medications, boarding, supplies, and more.