Groomer Primer

... What you should know about grooming your dog.

What do these dogs have in common?
  • Molly's double coat of thick, soft fur comes out in tufts - floating and bouncing around the house like hairy tumbleweeds.
  • Jake sheds year 'round. His short, Lab hair gets into everything - sticking out of furniture, popping up in someone's dinner, and generously coating his favorite nap spots.
  • Mahjong the Shih Tzu has long hair that has matted and twisted into thick clumps pulling on her skin. She's tender and raw, and she's gotten nippy from her discomfort.
  • Spot is a beautiful Spaniel who is prone to ear infections and skin problems.

So . . . what do these dogs have in common?

They could all benefit from regular grooming. And so would their loving owners!

Long-haired or short. Single or double-coated. All dogs need some form of grooming from time to time.

What Is Grooming, Anyway?

Are you picturing a fancy Park Avenue Salon where Fifi arrives by limo in her rhinestone-studded collar? Not your dog's cup o'tea? Ours either.

Grooming is akin to combing a child's hair, washing his hands, or putting on clean clothes. It's good hygiene; it's healthy; it's important! It also makes your pet feel good and look terrific. That's what grooming is.

For some breeds of dogs, grooming includes special trims that are both attractive and functional. They not only look good, they make your dog more comfortable and healthy.

What Does Grooming Include?

Let's start with the skin

Your dog's skin and coat are a reflection of his overall health. A clean, shiny coat and healthy skin are signs of well-being. A dull, matted, dirty coat is more than poor grooming. A dull coat and flaky skin may be a sign of illness, poor diet or other conditions. Keeping your dog's coat clean and well-groomed enables you and your groomer to notice skin problems, lumps, hot spots and other changes in your dog's condition before they become serious.


All dogs need their ears cleaned periodically. Dogs with hair in the ear canal, and dogs with heavy, droop ears are more prone to infection. Grooming includes cleaning the ears and removing excess hair. Keeping your dog's ears clean, dry and free of excess hair can improve your dog's health.

Feet & Nails

Long nails are not only noisy, they're painful. They can distort the bones in your dog's toes, and may even become imbedded in his pads. Grooming includes trimming or filing your dog's nails, and removing excess hair that can trap foreign objects in the fur between his pads. Foot comfort is as important for your dog as it is for you.


Clipping, hand scissoring, and specialty trims require knowledge, experience, skill and an "eye." This is what separates the outstanding groomer from the merely adequate.

Grooming Your Dog

Many owners groom and bathe their dogs themselves. Here are some things to keep in mind:
  • Baths - use warm water and mild dog shampoo. Thoroughly rinse out all soap residues. Leaving suds on your dog's skin can cause irritation and matting.
  • Be sure your dog is kept warm until he's completely dry.
  • Brushing - brush and comb your dog's coat thoroughly, down to the skin before you get her wet. Washing a matted coat causes the tangles to shrink like rawhide - making it impossible to comb out. Washing a dog without brushing her out will likely result in her needing to be trimmed short - perhaps even shaved.
  • Be careful with scissors - unless you know what you're cutting, don't scissor your dog's coat. Many well-intentioned owners have accidentally cut skin rather than hair.
  • Same with nails - dogs' nails contain a blood vessel called a "quick." If you cut it, not only does it bleed, it hurts!
  • Don't want to do it all yourself? Lots of people use a groomer for the hard stuff. But you still have some responsibilities. Here's what you can do between professional groomings:

    • Brush your dog regularly to keep the undercoat minimal, and remove tangles.
    • Train your dog to stand quietly while she's being brushed. All Dogs Gym manners classes are an excellent place to learn this.
Choosing the Best Groomer

Choose your dog's groomer with as much care and attention as you choose your own hair stylist or barber. You want the person who gives the best haircut, and also treats you and your pet well, with respect and caring, runs a clean, sanitary shop, and uses the most up-to-date equipment and supplies.

Here are some things you should know:
  • What's included in your dog's grooming?
    A standard at grooming All Dogs Gym includes
    • ears cleaned
    • hair between pads shaved
    • "sanitary" area shaved
    • nails trimmed or filed
    • anal glands expressed
    • bath
    • hi-velocity drying to remove excess coat
    • complete brushing to remove undercoat and mats
    • any trimming desired
  • How much time does your dog spend in a cage?
    A well-run grooming shop schedules appointments so your dog spends very little time in a cage before or after his grooming.
  • What equipment is used for his grooming?
    The newest equipment includes high-velocity dryers that blow out undercoat, leaving a healthy coat. This means less shedding in your home.
  • Is the groomer good to your dog?
    Your dog should be happy to see his groomer, and should be in high spirits after being groomed. A good groomer treats dogs with kindness, caring and respect.
  • How often should my dog be groomed?
    The more brushing you do at home, the more time you can go between visits to your dog's groomer. Talk with your groomer about the best schedule for your dog's health and comfort. Everyone at All Dogs Gym is dedicated to providing the very best for you and your dog in everything we do.