Tired of paying someone to groom your dog?  Just moved to a new city and haven’t found a groomer yet, but Fido is looking a little rough?  Don’t worry; you are fully capable of taking care of your dog’s basic grooming needs on your own.

To get you started, there are 5 basic areas of dog grooming which you will want to familiarize yourself with: brushing, bathing, nails, teeth, ears.  Some areas will need to be addressed more frequently than others.


You should be brushing your dog 2-3 times per week depending on your dog’s fur length and whether or not he is shedding a winter coat.

Brushing techniques and tools vary by breed.  For a long-haired dog, use a pin brush which will help with removing loose hairs in the undercoat.  Short-coat dogs are best brushed with either a rubber brush or a two-part brushing routine utilizing a stiff natural-bristle brush followed by a soft-bristle brush.  For wiry breeds, try a slicker brush and metal comb. Here is a comprehensive guide to best dog brushes from Shih Tzu Expert.

When brushing, be gentle and brush in the direction the coat grows.  Just like with your own hair, backwards brushing doesn’t feel good and will result in tangles.


In general, plan to bathe your dog every 2-4 months unless he has done something to get especially dirty.

Your dog’s skin has a different pH than yours, so even though you may be tempted to just use some of your own shampoo, invest in a shampoo specifically made for dogs.

As you apply the shampoo, be sure to avoid your dog’s eyes, nose, and inside his ears.  Water in the ears can lead to ear infections—not fun!

Massaging the shampoo into your dog’s body helps to loosen the dirt and feels amazing too.

Be sure to rinse thoroughly as shampoo residue can be very itchy if it is allowed to remain on your dog’s coat.

You can towel or blow dry your dog following bath time, although towel drying is generally recommended for owners who are new to grooming, as the noise of a blow dryer can agitate some dogs.  Whichever way you decide to dry your dog, make sure he stays warm until he is completely dry.  A shivering dog is an unhappy dog.


A dog’s nails should be trimmed about every 2 weeks.

The key here is to ensure that the nails aren’t allowed to get so long that they start to curl under and interfere with your dog’s ability to walk comfortably.  If you can hear your dog’s nails tapping on the ground when he walks, they are past due to be trimmed.

Trim nails short and even without cutting into the nerve and blood vessel running through the center of the nail.


While some groomers and veterinarians will tell you to brush your dog’s teeth daily, the general—and dare we say more realistic—consensus is to aim for 2-3 times per week.

You can use a special doggie toothbrush, a finger brush, or even a human toothbrush.  Supplement your brushings by providing special teeth cleaning treats in between brushings.


Once per week check inside your dog’s ears for the presence of dirt and/or ear wax.  To clean, use a special cleaning solution on a cotton ball.  Ear care is important for preventing ear infections, so keep an eye out for any signs of redness or swelling in your dog’s ears.

If you focus on these 5 basic areas of dog grooming, you will be well on your way to maintaining not only your dog’s appearance, but also his health.  Your wallet will thank you, and your dog will enjoy sharing quality bonding time as you tend to his needs.