Top 10 DIY Grooming Mistakes

Did you give your doodle a trim already? Are you planning to?

Browsing on Facebook and Instagram I see a lot of pawrents doing home haircuts. I honor their bravery and dedication, however, my groomer eyes see skipped steps so I made this post as a conversation starter.

Grooming doodles at home can be done the right way when we satisfy all of our doodle's grooming needs. And the wrong way, when we skip grooming steps, less obvious or tricky parts due to fear, a restless doodle, wrong equipment, painful method, or all of the above, which boils down to lack of knowledge about what we are attempting to do.
As a result, our doodle will get a trim on the back, sides, neck, and legs -the easiest spots- as far as we dare or can go with the clippers. But they will still experience discomfort or end up at the vet with a health issue, like ear infections due to excessive ear hair. Let alone causing an injury to them and ending up in the ER with a cut in the skin by the ears, belly, etc.

Check out the most common mistakes below and learn to pamper your doodle just like they are used to at the Wholesome Doodle Spa!

#1. Skipping Trimming The Paw Hair

I see more and more doodles online after home haircuts with the biggest boots ever. The winter coat is gone from their body, they are rocking a shorter trim, however, their boots are still on. Mats develop there due to frequent rubs and soak, lack of brushing which let mats thrive and multiply and the clipper won't go through the coat with a longer blade (1"+) on. Ergo, doggo boots. As cute as they sound, the name hides constant discomfort, most often rather painful reality. What do we do when we feel a rock in our shoes? We kick it off and remove the rock immediately. Mats between the toes (toe mohawks) and among pads (paw pad boomerangs) are the equivalent of the little rock in our shoes. Leaving those in "doggo boots" will result in pain and often times skin irritation, chewing, limping, and infections in the area. Fluffy pads will result in difficulty getting up, stopping, or running due to the boots being slippery or wood floor or tiles.

Betty's Suggestion

Make sure you check for

1. toe mohawks (mats between the toes)
2. paw pad boomerangs (mats among the pads)
3. mats and
4. trim the paw hair not only on the surface of the pads but also
5. shape up the coat around the side and top of the paws, too!

#2. Skipping The Nails

Just as the hair around the feet goes unnoticed or rather just left alone, nails play hide and seek in the furball boots and never get looked at. They win. Well, not so much. Long nails touching the ground make dogs prone to injury (breaking the nails or getting them split) and cause constant discomfort as they put pressure on the toes touching the ground under their full body weight. That's pretty painful as is, but some doggy nails grow in a circle and when left unchecked, they can curl back and grow into the pads. Dewclaws are the most prone to this, but toenails can get to this point as well.

Betty's Suggestion

Move the hair out of the way, see what is going on with the nails, and get/trim/file them shorter.

#3. Skipping The Eye Area

And we arrived at the head. The "castle" of the most sensitive features on a given surface. (Intact males may disagree. Keep the jewels!!)
Eyes, ears, nose, lips, tongue, whiskers all in one spot. And, as responsible pawrents most of us are afraid, often even scared to even find the eyes, let alone trimming the hair around them shorter. We convince ourselves it is cuter the way it is and postpone the facial trim to another day. And our dog is living in silent discomfort, waiting for solutions day by day. They really need to get the hair out of the eye area to be able to see and for you to see your doggy's eyes again.

Betty's Suggestion

By cleaning up the eye area, inner, outer corner, bangs- with a pre-haircut/thinning shear, you will win your doodle's heart again and again. And prevent excessive eye boogers, infections in the corner of the eye, running into screen doors, and missing the flying balls and toys.
Use a flea comb for wet eye boogers!

When dogs can't see what's happening around them, they tend to behave in ways that make it tricky or even dangerous to groom them.

I like to start with the eye area trim (unless the dog is super sensitive to that area). Once the god can see the tools, table, myself, my behavior, body language, etc clearly, they'll build trust faster so they'll be more cooperative for grooming.

#4. Skipping The Privates

Trimming the hair around the PP and butt area seems to be the Boogie Man for many people. It has some sort of a mystery to it I think, because it is not that big of a deal, really. It can be done with shears, clippers and you can say goodbye to mats, pee and poop in the coat, and wet sensation on your hand when picking up your new puppy.

Betty's Suggestion

Getting the penis, vulva, and anus areas trimmed will help your doodle feel clean, will prevent urine and poop getting stuck in there -fewer bath times, yayyyy- and less chance of getting a UTI. Win-win-win.

#5. Skipping The Ears

Ear hair around and in the ear canal can grow like a weed. In case left long, the outer hair by the opening of the ear canal will curl inward the ear canal making the area as busy as the opening day of the SXSW. Before 2020. For doodles who have less ear hair in the ear canal, and outer trim on the hair by the ear canal (outside) combined with trimming the part of the ear hair which is sticking out of the ear canal is a great way to make sure we keep the chance of an ear infection at bay. For those dogs, who have an ear hair forest by week 4-6 after grooming, they need the gentle, yet boldly bald approach and the ear hair needs to be removed. I still do an outer ear hair trim by the opening of the ear canal to prolong the effects of short hair by the ears.

Betty's Suggestion

Trimming the hair by opening the ear canal and/or removing the hair from the ear canal when you can't see the skin in the ear canal are great ways to prevent ear infections in dogs with a lot of ear hair.

#6. Skipping Training Your Doodle To Grooming

Expecting something new from doodles will not make them do something you really would like them to do. Having your doodle trained and used to being touched, brushed, combed, being on the ground still, on his/her side, back, grooming table, etc. In case you just start grooming, without "playing groomer" first, your doodle will have no idea what the game is so he/she likely will try to suggest new games, like running away playing fetch or just wiggling for you while you are trying to brush him/her. 

Betty's Suggestion

Play groomer as often as you can, especially after haircuts so your doggy will have a tangle-free coat, resulting in less or no pulling on the skin, making your doodle staying still. Getting your doodle used to grooming tools helps hugely in keeping your doodle still. Comfort = Cooperation.

#7. Skipping Exercise Before Grooming

Wiggly doodle? Escaping when you grab the brush? I am specialized in doodles in my practice, one of the highest energy level breeds out there, with definitely the most hair on their body. That combo requires special attention and a great plan to make sure the doodle needs are satisfied so the doodle will cooperate.

Betty's Suggestion

A tired doodle is a happy doodle. And from a grooming perspective, most importantly a cooperative doodle. I ask all my clients to have their doodles run, play fetch, go wild before the spa day. I do the same with my doggy. We go silly, jump, run, do sniffs in the spa, and turn my clients into "grooming mode".

#8. Skipping Potty Breaks Before, Meanwhile, After Grooming

I know that I wiggle, do tippy taps, and feel very uncomfortable when I am holding #1 or #2 for too long. The dogs' body language prefers empty bladder and rectum, too for spa days. Based on that, one of the most common causes for wiggles is the need to go to #1 or #2.

Betty's Suggestion

Take a pee break before, meanwhile, and after grooming. I usually do a before, hourly meanwhile (definitely one before the bath) and an after pee break when the doodle is dry.

#9. Skipping Being Through About Brushing And Combing

This is a critical spot. I see it very often with new clients. Not going deep enough with the brush and the comb. And not brushing and combing all body parts frequently enough. Skipping removing tangles and mats on the muzzle, cheeks, under the ears, tail, feet, etc. results in deep, tight mats, which will result in deep holes. Using a brush with too short pins will make it very hard to get the skin layer. Often times when that is missed, the doodle will end up with a matted layer by the skin, ending up with a short shave.

Betty's Suggestion

Getting the right equipment to be able to work through the coat right to the skin and make sure you are working all the way through the skin. If you are using the right equipment, the right way, you will get a full tangle and mat-free coat and scratch-free skin.

A tangled and matted coat

Tangle and mat-free coat

#10. Skipping Learning About Grooming Before Attempting One

Not knowing what you need to do, supposed to do and what not supposed to do to your doodle can easily result in a visit to the vet. You will not only take home stitches or staples but an experience that will be very hard to "undo" in both of your psyches.

Betty's Suggestion

Learning about the grooming steps, how to train your doodles to cooperate, how to perform the grooming steps, the best tools to get the best results. While YouTube has many grooming videos, learning its and bits of grooming from a professional source will save you a lot of time and result in a safe and cooperative spa day at home. 

+1. Skipping Brushing And Combing Before And After The Bath

Another typical mistake I meet is skipping brushing before the bath. One of the most damaging situations is when we leave our doodles at boarding facilities with long hair. They get fun runs but no brushing. They get a bath before they go home so they won't stink. All the mats due to rolling, chewing, scratching, lack of brushing will result in a huge, tight mat on their body. In smaller volumes, they will be in smaller bunches around less frequently brushed areas, like hips, muzzle, etc.

Betty's Suggestion

Brushing the coat out before the bath is more important than brushing it out after. Though both are the ideal deal to keep the tangles away. You can do it with a brush, loosen up the coat without tangles and mats with a comb, or a slightly tangled coat with a high-velocity blow-dryer.