Do It Yourself Dog Grooming
June 25, 2015 5:25 PM   Subscribe

Through a perfect storm of Bad Things my bichon/poodle hasnt been groomed in about six months. I have bathed her a couple of times during that period and trimmed around her eyes and her butt a bit. I'm not going to be able to get her to a groomer's any time soon, and I'd like to figure out how to do it at home. It doesn't have to look perfect or in any style, I just want her to be clean and comfortable with short hair.

What's the best way to go about that at home? I have some electric dog clippers, I have scissors with rounded ends, and I have the guillotine-type nail clippers (which I have never been brave enough to try). She is matted in several areas, some of them kind of big. Should I bathe her first? Cut off the mats with scissors before trying to clip her? Use the clippers against the way the hair grows or with the hair? Pretty sure I can't get a brush through her right now because of how long it is and how many tangles there are.

She is great with the groomers and she will be fairly patient with me, although I may have to do it in a few sessions. Am I overthinking this or is it all a bad idea?

Any tips/trick/words of wisdom would be appreciated.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit to Pets & Animals (5 answers total)
The ConairPro Memory Gel Grip Dog Soft Slicker Brush is AMAZING at de-matting. My cocker spaniel hates people who aren't me, and had some sort of trauma in her before life, so I spend about fifteen minutes a day either clipping or brushing her because that's all she can handle. She's incredibly tolerant of that brush, and since I got it, I've made significant progress in getting some of the big mats out.
posted by Ruki at 6:30 PM on June 25, 2015

This is a good idea you are having.

Cut off the mats first with scissors, very, very carefully. Smaller scissors work better than big scissors, for accuracy and precision. Don't snip until you are certain what is dog and what is hair.

Don't cut through the mats: cut around them. This will mean that you will work around the edges of the mat until you have freed it, as a single mass, from the dog.

Don't be afraid to eschew the electric dog trimmers entirely. I have sheared entire sheep using just Fiskars scissors (not in one session, though). Nobody bled.
posted by the Real Dan at 6:32 PM on June 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

I agree with cutting the mats off before using a shaver. (Disclaimer: I have only done this with cats.) Be very careful, and cut the mats off in one session. Then do the trimming a day or two later. To maintain, use a Furminator or other grooming tool to comb the pup on a regular basis to keep mats at bay.
posted by bedhead at 7:28 PM on June 25, 2015

When you're cutting mats, insert the scissors into the mat pointing AWAY from the dog, that way you eliminate the risk of accidentally nipping the skin (it's easy to pull that thin, elastic skin up and out with the mat, and the mat makes the skin hard to see).

If you cut into the mat vertically in a couple of places (splitting the mat), then use a slicker brush, you'll find that you'll be able to preserve more of the hair so that she won't have obvious bald spots.

It's better to get her de-matted and brushed out before bathing. Bathing tends to create a "felting" effect and will make the mats tighten up.

You can buy a silicone grooming product called The Stuff that will make it insanely easier to brush out tangled coat. It's like magic. Unfortunately I can't use it because I'm sensitive to silicone and it makes me break out, something to consider before purchasing. But it's amazing at detangling and preventing future tangles.
posted by HotToddy at 10:23 PM on June 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's hair, the worst that can happen is your dog looks uneven for a while, they won't care and will be more comfortable.. Do short sessions and stop before your dog looks stressed. There are a lot of good YouTube videos on using clippers on dogs.

With mats go slowly and sort of nibble around the edges of them, do not cut if you can't see what you are cutting. I use tiny curved blunt ended scissors intended for human personal grooming as I find them easier to get the tips under mats and around oddly shaped bits.

With nails sick to the little and often method, if your dog doesn't like it have ample treats on hand to distract, we find pb on a plastic spoon can distract long enough to get a whole foot done.
posted by wwax at 5:42 AM on June 26, 2015

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