Successful Grooms Start at Home!

Every step of putting Fido’s Gray Dog Grooming together was taken with an eye on the comfort and safety of the dogs that come to visit us, but did you know there are several things you can do to set your dog up for a successful groom before it’s time for his haircut?

First, come say hi before it’s grooming time! Bring Fido in to eat a treat, scope the space, and meet me before I need to put him in the tub. Starting with a low key visit helps dogs feel more comfortable in the salon. Scheduling a nail trim or a brush out is also a good first visit that doesn’t include the intensive handling of a full groom.

Does your dog get anxious in new situations? A calming supplement like ProQuiet or melatonin might help take the edge off. If your dog takes medication for anxiety, time the dosage around his appointment. This goes for pain medication, as well. Giving his regular pain pill in advance of the visit will help preempt the soreness that can come from the gentle manipulation of lifting paws and moving limbs. Speak with your vet to see if an additional dose is advised before or after the groom.

Exercise before the appointment is also advised! A dog who has burned some energy off will feel calmer.

When it’s time to drop Fido off, make a low key exit. After we chat about what your dog needs that day, say goodbye calmy and go without a dramatic farewell. I know you may feel guilty leaving him or nervous about how things will go but I promise your dog is in safe hands with me! A big goodbye worries your dog, who wonders why you are upset. Almost every dog is fine within minutes of their person leaving, and I let the nervous ones acclimate for a bit before putting them on the table.

Finally, keep up on brushing at home and make regular appointments! If every visit with me includes dematting or a shave down your dog is going to dread the sight of our building because it means they’re in for a lengthy visit. Frequent visits keep your dog in better shape and make the experience faster and more pleasant for him.

Mats, Tangles, and Snarls

A matted dog is more than an aesthetic issue. Tight mats pull at the skin, effect mobility, and can even cause injury if left unaddressed. Let’s look at the areas where fur commonly tangles up and talk about how to prevent it!

Felted fur on back leg
  • Neck: Collars mash long fur down, and friction causes it to mat. Silky coated dogs can get “ball mats” behind their ears from their collars riding up. Take your dog’s collar off daily for brushing.
  • Armpits and groin: these areas are often neglected during brushing because they’re hard to get to even on a cooperative dog! Keep these areas clipped clean, you only see them for belly rubs anyhow!
  • Sanitary areas: under the tail, around genitals, and the “pants” of long-haired pups can get pretty yucky. These are also areas to keep clean, short, and neat. If you like fluffy fur on your dog’s backside be sure to brush it!
  • Beards and moustaches: food gets stuck, then the dog scratches at it which smashes more fur into it. Add a trip to the water bowl and you have a big, stinky mess of a beard! Remember how powerful your dog’s nose is; if his face smells bad to you imagine how much stronger that scent is to him! Comb your dog’s beard out daily to prevent debris from building up.
  • Between the toes: another place we don’t normally think to brush! Big clumps of fur between the toes makes walking painful, and dogs will chew their feet trying to get the mat out. This just makes things worse! During brushing, gently run your brush over the top of your dog’s foot, from his toenails towards his leg. This will pull the fur up and out so you can keep it tangle-free. You can also run a comb between each toe, drawing the fur to the top of the foot. This is not an area to stick scissors into! The webbing there is very delicate and easy to knick. If you see a mat in the fur you’ve pulled to the top of the foot, cut it from there or let the groomer take care of it.
Mats cut from between toes

If your dog is currently matted, know that a “fresh start” is often the kindest option. Picking deep mats out is painful, as it tugs at the dog’s skin and can even cause tearing in areas with thin skin or on elderly dogs. Heavily matted fur restricts blood flow and can hide underlying issues like sores or growths that you may not see. Knots in the armpit and “leg pits” can bind, preventing the dog from walking normally or causing discomfort with every step. Be cautious in cutting mats out at home. Besides leaving holes in the coat, it can be tricky to know where the mat stops and the skin begins because the mat pulls skin into it.

mats shaved from ear01

Different fur textures mat in different ways, but any coat with length can snarl up. If a long coat is too much to keep up with at home, regular trips to the groomer (4 to 6 weeks is the recommended schedule) will keep your dog in good condition. You don’t have to book a haircut every time, a “face feet and fanny” or even just a thorough brush-out will do! While you’re in, I can show you how what tools to use and how to brush to prevent mats and keep your pup looking and feeling good!

Sprocket gets a haircut!

Yeesh. Just look at this mop!


An absolute mess


Matted tail. Shameful.


Who would let their dog get into such shape?! Oh right… that’s my dog.

We need to fix this, and fast.

First, the pre-clip. Let’s get rid of as much fur as possible before tub time!


That’s a little better.


Getting there…


Alright, NOW we can have a bath! And a dry, and lots of brushing before clipping, scissoring and combing.


Much better, yes? I had to leave the beard and ears, I love them so. But now he can see, his feet don’t look like rags and he looks a lot happier!

Muddy Mutts and Dirty Dogs: How to Give your Dog a Bath (pt 3 of 3)

“I didn’t like the bath and I like the camera even less”

Clean up:

*Oh boy. Is the tub full of fur and the entire floor soaked? I always time my dog’s baths for a day when the bath is due to be scrubbed anyhow, so I’m not wrecking a freshly cleaned bathroom. Rinse the dog hair down the drain and scoop out whatever gets caught. Clean the peanut butter smears and treat crumbs off of the tub walls (a spritz of white vinegar cleans peanut butter off of tile and shower surrounds pretty well, I’ve found). Wipe down the cabinets, they’re bound to be wet from the shake off. Gather up soaked towels and pitch ‘em in the washer.

*Now go find your freshly washed Fido. He’s probably on the couch or your bed, finishing his dry off on your upholstery. You didn’t let him outside, did you?! Then he’s in the flowerbed, digging a hole.

*For longhaired dogs, wait until they are dry and do a second brush out. Don’t skimp! This is the fluffiest he will ever be, so get every bit with that brush and comb. This will also let you deal with any mats you missed the first time around, or those created by the bath.

Now the best part! Pull your dog into your lap, sink your nose into this fur, and take a big whiff of clean pooch! He’ll be squeaky clean and smelling fresh for weeks! Or days. Maybe hours…

“I can’t WAIT to get outside and roll in the dirt!”

Muddy Mutts and Dirty Dogs: How to Give your Dog a Bath (Pt 2 of 3)

Big dogs might be easier to bathe outside if weather permits!

The Main Event:

*Place the dog in the tub. If you have a helper, they should feed treats at a steady pace while you wet your dog down with the showerhead (if you have a detachable one) or a cup. If you’re doing this solo, a big smear of peanut butter on the tub wall just slightly above your dog’s nose level is a good distraction and easily cleaned up afterwards. Make sure Fido is completely wet before grabbing the shampoo.

*Rub a generous amount of shampoo into your dog’s fur. Start from her hind end and move towards the head, getting the back of her legs and belly. Work the suds down to the skin with your fingers. If the dog is going to enjoy any part of the process, this is it! Lather her neck and chest. Don’t worry about her face, you’ll clean that up with a washcloth. I don’t worry much about the feet either, you’re not going to put fresh socks on them after!

That’s not a happy tail, but she’s tolerating the suds!

*Keep the shampoo on at least five minutes if your dog will allow it. If not, no worries. A quick bath is better than none at all.

*Time to rinse! Check the temperature of your water and refresh your peanut butter smear if necessary. If there is standing water in the tub, let it drain. Tip your dog’s chin up and rinse her neck first. Rinse the chest and front legs, then move to her back. Do her belly next, then her hindquarters, tail, and back legs. If you are using a detachable showerhead, get the nozzle as close to your dog’s skin as she is comfortable with to really get the suds out. You want to rinse until the water running off of her is completely clear, residual shampoo will dry her skin and may itch. Give her feet a gentle rinse.

*Soak a washcloth and go to work on her face. Gently wipe the corners of her eyes and top of her head and under her chin. Depending on how shaggy your dog is, this might be a long process! For my longhaired dogs, I cup a handful of water and bring it to their chins, using my soapy fingers to clean out all that beard grime. I then tip their heads back and rinse. Do not pour water over the top of your dog’s head or over their nose and muzzle, they’re not going to like it!

Getting her face wiped clean.

*All clean? If the rinse water runs clear, your pooch is done! “Squeegee” him off with your hands, running them over his back and down his legs and tail to squeeze off as much water as you can before toweling.

*Help your dog out of the tub, a slippery dog may hurt himself scrambling out of a wet tub. Toss a towel over him immediately, he’s going to shake and this will contain the spray!

Containing shake off spray!


*Dry your dog as thoroughly as you can (I told you to grab a lot of towels!). Damp is okay, soaked is going to create a mess! A hairdryer is okay if your dog isn’t afraid of it, but towel dry first and be sure it’s on “cool”, hot settings can easily burn his skin.  When he is dry, set him loose and prepare for….

The aftermath!