Week 9: Easy Grooming

Welcome to Week 9 of the Bark Better Live Better Challenge!

This week, we're diving into the wonderful world of dog grooming. Grooming isn't just about making your pup look pretty; it's an essential part of their overall health and well-being. 

In this post, we'll explore the importance of grooming, all outlined by body part. We will also talk about essential tools you may need and finally give you some tips and tricks for making this a positive experience for both you and your dog.

This post contains Amazon Associate links to make things easier for you. If you fetch something through those links, we might fetch a little treat too - a small commission, that is! But don't worry, it won't cost you any extra bones.

Looking After Your Dog’s Ears

Regular ear cleaning is vital to prevent wax buildup and avoid ear infections in your dog. Typically, it's advised to clean your dog's ears once a month.

However, some dogs, especially those prone to infections or with floppy ears that trap moisture and debris, may require more frequent cleaning. During warmer, more humid months and after swimming, it's especially important to clean ears more often because moisture can get trapped, creating a breeding ground for bacteria or yeast.

To clean your dog's ears, use a specially formulated ear cleaner like Sonotix or Epiotic, along with cotton balls to gently wipe away dirt and debris. Avoid inserting anything into the ear canal to prevent injury.

Happi Doggi Bark Better Live Better Week 9 Grooming

Looking After Your Dog’s Eyes

To keep your dog's eyes clean and free from discharge, gently wipe them with a damp cloth. Use a separate cloth for each eye to prevent the spread of bacteria.

If your dog has reddish-brown streaks beneath their eyes, they may suffer from tear stains, also known as epiphora. This condition is caused by excessive tear production, which can result from various factors such as genetics, blocked tear ducts, eye irritation, allergies, or infections. Certain breeds are more susceptible to tear stains due to shallow eye sockets or facial structures that cause tears to overflow onto the face. To address tear stains, it's essential to keep the eye area clean and, if necessary, use a specialised tear stain remover.

Looking After Your Dog’s Nails

Trimming your dog's nails is a crucial aspect of grooming that significantly impacts their overall health and comfort. Long nails can curl under, leading to pain, difficulty walking, and potential joint issues over time.

Before you begin trimming, it's essential to understand the anatomy of your dog's nails. Each nail contains a quick, which is a blood vessel and nerve bundle running through the centre. Cutting into the quick can cause bleeding and discomfort for your dog, so it's important to avoid it during trimming.

However, trimming your dog's nails is actually easier than you might think, especially if you stick to the steps we've laid out below.

  1. Choose the Right Tools:
    Use a pair of sharp, quality dog nail clippers. There are different types available, including guillotine-style clippers, scissor-style clippers and grinding tools such as this Dremel Pet Grooming Kit. Select the type that you feel most comfortable using.

  2. Find the Quick:
    Hold your dog's paw gently and examine the nails. You should be able to see the pinkish quick inside the nail. Avoid cutting into this area.

  3. Trim Gradually:
    If your dog has long nails, trim small amounts at a time to avoid cutting into the quick accidentally. Take breaks between trims to give your dog a chance to relax.

  4. Be Careful with Dark Nails:
    If your dog has dark nails, it may be challenging to see the quick. In this case, trim small amounts of the nail at a time and stop when you see a black dot in the centre of the nail – this indicates that you're approaching the quick.

  5. Stay Calm:
    Keep a calm and steady hand while trimming your dog's nails. If you're nervous or anxious, your dog may become anxious too, making the process more challenging.

  6. Address Bleeding Promptly:
    If you accidentally cut into the quick and cause bleeding, don't panic. Apply styptic powder or cornstarch to the nail tip to stop the bleeding. Hold gentle pressure on the nail for a few minutes until the bleeding stops. If bleeding persists or if you're unsure, consult your veterinarian.

  7. Reward Your Dog:
    After trimming each nail or completing the session, reward your dog with praise and treats to associate nail trimming with positive experiences.

Just stick to these steps, take your time, and be careful, and you'll keep your pup's nails in good shape without any fuss. And if you're not feeling too confident about it or if your dog's nails are extra long or tough, don't hesitate to get some advice from a groomer or vet. They've got your back!

Looking After Your Dog’s Teeth

As we covered in Week 6, dental care is an important aspect of grooming. Be sure to brush your dog's teeth regularly with a toothbrush (or a finger brush) and toothpaste specially formulated for dogs to prevent plaque and tartar buildup and keep their breath fresh. Go back and refresh your memory on Dental Care here.

Looking After Your dog’s Coat

Brushing your dog's coat regularly helps to remove loose hair, prevent mats and tangles, and distribute natural oils for a healthy, shiny coat. The type of brush you'll need will depend on your dog's coat type, so be sure to choose one that's suitable for their specific needs.

Here's a breakdown of some common coat types and how they differ in grooming:

Smooth Coat

Dogs with smooth coats, like Beagles, Dachshunds, and Boxers, have short, dense fur that lies close to the body. Grooming these dogs typically involves regular brushing to remove loose hair and dirt. A soft bristle brush or grooming mitt can help keep their coat shiny and healthy.

Double Coat

Breeds like German Shepherds, Huskies and Golden Retrievers have double coats, consisting of a dense undercoat and a longer outer coat. These dogs shed heavily seasonally and require more frequent brushing, especially during shedding season, to prevent matting and reduce shedding. A slicker brush and an undercoat rake are useful tools for removing loose fur and undercoat.

Curly Coat

Poodles, Bichon Frises, and Portuguese Water Dogs are examples of breeds with curly coats. These dogs require regular grooming to prevent their curly hair from matting and becoming tangled. Regular brushing and occasional trimming are necessary to keep their coat in good condition and prevent matting.

Wire Coat

Breeds like Wire Fox Terriers, Schnauzers, and Scottish Terriers have wiry, coarse coats that require specialised grooming. These dogs need regular stripping to remove dead hair and maintain the texture of their coat. Hand-stripping or using a stripping knife is typically done several times a year to keep their coat looking its best.

Miniature Schnauzer DogA Miniature Schnauzer Has A Wire Coat

Long Coat

Dogs with long coats, such as Afghan Hounds, Maltese, and Shih Tzus, require frequent grooming to prevent their fur from becoming tangled and matted. Regular brushing and combing are essential to remove tangles and prevent matting. Trimming around the eyes, ears, and paws may also be necessary to keep them clean and comfortable.

Short Coat

Breeds like Doberman Pinschers and Great Danes have short, smooth coats that are relatively low-maintenance. These dogs benefit from regular brushing to remove loose hair and dirt, but they typically do not require extensive grooming beyond that.

Bathing My Dog

Bathing your dog is an essential part of grooming, but it's crucial to do it correctly to avoid drying out their skin or causing irritation. How often you bathe your dog depends on their breed, activity level, and skin condition. Dogs with oily skin or those that spend a lot of time outdoors may need more frequent baths, while others may only need bathing every few months. Over-bathing can strip their skin of natural oils, so it's essential to find the right balance.

When it's bath time, use lukewarm water to wet your dog thoroughly before applying shampoo. Start with the body and leave the head area until last, being careful to avoid getting water in their ears and eyes. Always use a shampoo formulated specifically for dogs, as human shampoo can be too harsh for their skin.

Gently massage the shampoo into your dog’s fur, paying extra attention to areas that tend to get the dirtiest, such as the belly, paws, and rear-end. Rinse all the shampoo out of your dog's coat thoroughly to prevent itching and skin irritation. After bathing, towel dry your dog, and if they have a long coat, you may need to use a hairdryer on a low setting to ensure they are fully dry, especially in colder weather.

Once your dog is dry, take the opportunity to brush out their coat to remove any loose fur and prevent mats and tangles. Regular bathing and grooming will help keep your dog looking and feeling their best.

girl washing a labrador dogGirl Bathing Labrador Retriever

My Dog Does Not Like Grooming! What To Do?

It's not uncommon for dogs to be a bit apprehensive or resistant when it comes to grooming.

Some dogs may not enjoy the sensation of certain grooming tasks, such as having their nails trimmed or their ears cleaned. However, there are several strategies you can use to help make grooming a more positive experience for your furry friend.

Start Slowly

If your dog is wary of grooming, start slowly and gradually introduce them to the process. Begin with short grooming sessions and gradually increase the duration as your dog becomes more comfortable.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Reward your dog with treats, praise, or their favourite toys during grooming sessions to associate the experience with positive outcomes. This positive reinforcement can help your dog feel more relaxed and willing to participate.

Make It Fun

Turn grooming into a game or bonding activity by incorporating playtime or interactive toys into the process. For example, you can use a puzzle toy filled with treats to distract your dog while you trim their nails or brush their coat.


Gradually desensitise your dog to the sensations associated with grooming tasks by touching and handling their paws, ears, and other sensitive areas when they are relaxed. This can help reduce their sensitivity over time.

Use Gentle Handling

Handle your dog gently and with care during grooming sessions to avoid causing them discomfort or anxiety. Speak to them in a calm and soothing voice, and be patient and understanding if they show signs of nervousness.

Seek Professional Help

If your dog continues to exhibit extreme fear or anxiety during grooming, consider seeking the assistance of a professional dog trainer or behaviorist. They can provide guidance and support tailored to your dog's specific needs.

With a bit of patience and positivity, along with some tricks to make grooming less stressful for your pup, you can turn their dislike into a more pleasant experience for you both.


In conclusion, grooming is an essential part of caring for your dog's overall well-being. By following the tips discussed in this week's blog post, you can ensure that grooming becomes a positive experience for both you and your furry friend.

As a challenge, we like to encourage you to download the freebie provided in this post. Use it to create a personalised grooming routine for your dog. With a little planning and consistency, you'll soon find that grooming becomes a breeze, and your dog will thank you for it.

Happy grooming!

PS: As mentioned previously, this post contains Amazon Associate links. If you decide to purchase anything through those links, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

We usually only recommend products we have previously used ourselves. This post however does contains links to products which we have not used before, simply because we had no need for them; Our short haired dogs will not need a stripping knife for instance. We have included them this time, to give you an idea of what type of tool we are referring to, to hopefully making it easier for you.
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