Is your dog starting to smell a bit woofy? It’s important to bathe and brush your dog regularly to keep them healthy and happy. Keep reading to learn the best dog grooming practices – for a fresher Fido and a spotless Spot!

Get the right tools for the job

Before you begin, it’s important to make sure you’ve got the right tools. We recommend putting together a basic dog grooming kit containing:

  • Washcloth
  • Towel
  • Comb
  • Brush
  • Dog shampoo
  • Blunt-nosed safety scissors (for trimming fur)

A pair of dog nail clippers is another good investment, as is a dog toothbrush and toothpaste to keep their teeth and gums clean. You can also buy ear cleansing solutions from most pet supply stores.

How to wash your dog

How often you bathe your dog will depend on the length of their coat and how much time they spend outside. Long-haired dogs that spend a lot of time in nature will need to be bathed more frequently than short-haired, indoor dogs.

The bottom line is: if your dog smells bad, it’s time for a bath. Try to avoid washing your dog too often, as this can strip away the natural oils of their coat and cause skin problems.

How to wash dog: a step-by-step guide

First, make sure you have a shampoo that’s specially formulated for dogs. You can buy shampoos with the correct pH balance for dogs from most pet stores.

Smaller dogs can be bathed indoors in a bathtub or sink – keep the drain unobstructed to minimise any risk of drowning. To prevent slipping, apply a non-slip mat to the bottom of the tub. For larger dogs, it might be easier to bathe them in the backyard, on a warm day.

These steps can be used as a general guide for dog washing:

  • Make sure your dog is standing in the tub comfortably. Treats can be used to help your dog form positive associations with bath time.
  • Test the water temperature first: it should be warm but not hot. You can use a detachable shower head, or you can fill a container with warm water to carefully ladle over your dog’s coat. Avoid their eyes, ears and mouth.
  • After you’ve poured enough warm water over your dog to get their coat wet, you can gently massage dog shampoo into their body, legs and tail.
  • Next, it’s time to rinse. Apply warm water, and massage with your fingers to make sure all of the shampoo washes away.
  • Use a towel to dry your dog, and help them out of the tub. They will likely shake to get rid of any excess water. Then you can let them dry naturally – either in the sunshine, or perhaps in front of a heater.

Remember to make sure your dog feels comfortable and safe throughout the process. Use a calming tone of voice and praise them frequently. Take a break if your dog seems distressed: you might need to try again on another day.

How to wash dog’s face

Your dog’s face is highly sensitive so you’ll need to be particularly careful. It’s best to avoid using shampoo: use a damp washcloth instead. As gently as you can, wipe the washcloth across your dog’s face to remove any dirt. You can also use this opportunity to check the insides of your dog’s ears to make sure they’re free from gunk and parasites.

How to groom your dog at home

Once you get into the habit of grooming your dog regularly, it will become a bonding ritual. Many dogs love being brushed, plus it provides an opportunity to make sure their skin is healthy. Use the following info as a basic ‘how to dog grooming’ guide – if you need more specialised info, please check with your vet.


The purpose of brushing your dog’s coat is to remove loose hair and prevent matting. Brushing will help to keep your dog’s fur shiny by distributing the natural oils in their skin. While brushing, you can also check for fleas and tics.

Only brush your dog as much as is needed. Over-brushing can irritate the skin. If you encounter a tangled patch of fur, it’s probably better to cut it out with a pair of scissors rather than trying to comb it out.


Trimming is sometimes required for long-haired dogs whose fur is prone to tangles and knots. You might also need to trim when the fur around your dog’s eyes starts to obstruct their vision.

For the safety of your dog, use a special pair of dog grooming scissors, and remember never to point the scissors at your dog. Take particular care around the eyes, ears and nose.

Nail clipping

It’s best to talk to your vet before you attempt to clip your dog’s nails. Vets can show you what type of clipper to use, and how to do it safely.

Another tip for nail maintenance is to make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise. This will naturally help to wear down the nails.

How to groom dog at home: additional tips

Your dog’s diet directly affects their coat. Grooming will help to improve the quality of your dog’s coat, but ultimately diet plays the most important role. We recommend feeding your dog a complete diet made from ethically-sourced ingredients.

Whenever you introduce your dog to a new grooming routine, take your time and make sure they feel secure. You can feed your dog treats before and after grooming so they associate it with good things.

You should also strive to keep your dog’s toys, bowl and bedding clean. If you’re wondering how to wash dog’s toys, simply use a sponge soaked in warm soapy water to rub off any dirt. This will keep your house clean and prevent ‘dog smell’.

Caring for your dog

With a little bit of preparation, grooming your dog at home is easy. Many dogs find grooming to be relaxing and enjoyable. Remember to be patient and to reward your dog often. You will be doing your bit to keep your dog healthy and looking great.