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The Dangers of Grooming Your Dog at Home

And How to Do it Safely

I was inspired to write this post and talk about the dangers of grooming your dog at home–after seeing quite a few dogs come into my salon, terrified of grooming. Not because of grooming experience with a professional. But rather, by their parents. Which is why I believe it can be d

In the past month, I have seen the tip of a dog’s tail severed from wt home grooming, various deep cuts all over from “cutting out mats”, sliced ears, and various burn areas from attempts at trying to summ3r shave a dog at home. 

I really don’t like this. 

When dogs come in for grooming, after being put through the wringer at home, they are traumatized. They connect grooming with pain, and believe any experience–whether professional or at home–will hurt every time. 

Since groomers don’t really report pet parents, these incidents happen more often than not. And no one really knows because most of the time these babies never see a vet–mainly because the pet parent is too embarrassed to do so. 

There are so many POPULAR PINS ON PINTEREST, GOOGLE, AND THE LIKE that advocate at-home grooming to save money. But the part that these individuals forget to think about or talk about is that dogs are live animals.  If you come at them with a pair of scissors and it appears threatening, they will move. And they’re alive….so they’re definitely going to move anyway.

At any true, professional grooming salon, not a “you get what you pay for grooming salon”, everything is set up to keep your pet safe, from the tub all of the ways to the grooming tables, equipment, and ambiance. 

My sister made extra sure to set up our salon, Pawsome Pets in Lewisville, Tx, exclusively with the dog in mind.  We have electric tables that go up and down quietly, calming music for those pups that are scared, windows to keep the dog’s attention.  We even have a seating area for pet parents so they can sit, wait, and watch their pet getting groomed.

And if the pet is too scared they can even help as long as we can still do our job safely.  We have a tub that can change the water temperature to suit the pet. Hoods we can put over our doggie clients ears if the dryer is too loud for them. And room-temperature fans that blow fast enough to get them dry, but slow enough not to freak them out.  

We have been groomers in the industry for quite a long time.  And we have seen it all!!

Whenever I see a dog come in with chopped up bangs styled by their parents, I always think of the YouTubers that FAIL horrendously at cutting their own hair. And I know you’ve seen these viral videos of women trying to cut their own bangs at home……..and we all know how that ended.  If you haven’t seen it….well, check out this funny video:


There are quite a few reasons that grooming your dog at home is dangerous. I want to talk about those few reasons. But I also want to tell you that it’s possible to groom your dog safe as well. However, leave the intricate challenging stuff to the professionals.

 Here are MANY unsafe ways to groom your dog at home that should be completely avoided, period. 

  • Using anything other than clippers to shave out mats. DO NOT USE BASIC SCISSORS TO TRIM OUT MATS- ESPECIALLY THOSE CLOSE TO THE SKIN
    • Please DO NOT use basic kitchen scissors, or scissors nonetheless to trim out mats from your dog’s fur.  Dog mats, when very knotted, can be painful on their own. Tightly wound knots of dog fur pull on the skin and causes discomfort, along with raising the skin up, sometimes into the mat.  Therefore, it’s hard to determine the distance of fur from the skin. 

I once had a client bring their dog in for a groom after attempting to groom at home and the dog had a mat trimmed with scissors.  The mat was hanging off the dog’s body, attached to the skin, with a large bloody wound underneath. We told them that they needed to go to the Veterinarian ASAP! 

    • Properly trimming a dog’s nails can determine whether or not a dog enjoys their nails being trimmed.  Therefore “guessing” where to trim a dog’s nails is quite dangerous, definitely psychologically, if the nails are trimmed deeply into the quick causing extreme pain.  It will take FOREVER to win back your dog’s TRUST.
    • Dawn.  It’s amazing dish soap, and yes it can kill fleas on puppies and kittens. And it definitely washes away the oil-covered on ducks unfortunately caught in oil spills.  But it should not be considered an everyday shampoo for your dog. The reason being is because dawn is meant to break up the oil. Like a clarifying shampoo for instance. And it strips your dog’s coat of its natural oils, which throws off your dog’s ability to regulate the amount of oil needed for the skin.  The dryer the coat, the more skin problems arise. Like extreme shedding and hair loss, flaky and itchy skin.   
    • Trimming in front of your dog’s eyes can be a bad idea if they or YOU make one wrong move.  And most dogs don’t like scissors angled at their face in a terrifying position, because hey, it’s scary.  I highly recommend using thinning shears, which I’ll cover later. 
  • Forcing your dog through a groom, even if they’re scared (I’ve seen someone do this on their back porch apartment. 
    • I remember seeing two women working with their dog on a back porch forcing him to get groomed, yelling at him while he was fighting.  And I felt really sorry for both the dog and the groomer who would have to groom him next. The best way to get a dog to like grooming is to go slow and to use treats and positive reinforcement.  I’ll cover this later.  Terrorizing a dog through a scary situation is really bad for them and only makes them hate the process to the point that it is going to be impossible to groom them at all.  Otherwise, grooming could result in major injury. A dog’s only way of telling us NO is to scratch and bite. Although we try to anthropomorphize our dogs (give our four-legged companions human characteristics), we still have to understand that they are animals and they will bite. And they will BITE.HARD. I know this from personal experience. I have been bitten many times during my grooming experience. 
  • Brushing mats out on a dry coat trying to rip them out 
    • Brushing a dry coat hurts, especially if you’re doing it to get out mats and it’s not a short 15 min brushing session for daily maintenance. Brushing a dry coat doesn’t allow for “slip” (a term used in the African-American community, regarding how easily the brush or comb can slide down the hair shaft). It causes friction, ripping, and pulling of the hair from the root.  This causes the skin to get really red, irritated, and it’s just downright painful. I talk more about how to brush your dog safely below. 
  • Locking your dog in the shower with the water running if they DONT LIKE IT
    • Some people resort to extreme measures when they are short on time or have a misbehaving dog.  Locking a dog in a shower just to give them a bath, if they don’t like water can cause quite a psychological impact when it comes to their mental health. 
    • When a dog is mentally scarred from a traumatic experience they relive that moment over and over even when undergoing a different experience in a different environment.  And the worst part is they can’t tell you with words how terrified they are. Instead, they try their hardest to get away, scratch, or fight.

Please, if you feel your dog is challenging, talk to your local vet about types of sedatives to help with the grooming process.  Although you may think the ordeal is insignificant, it could make or break any future grooming processes for them.


Here are some safe ways to groom your dog at home, as long as you feel comfortable and safe while doing it. 

  • Trimming in front of the eyes with thinning shears while being very careful at the same time 
    • If you’re going to trim in front of the eyes, I highly recommend purchasing a pair of dog thinning shears.  This not only makes it a tad bit harder to cause injury to your pet, but it also doesn’t leave harsh lines that your groomer can fix.  Plus the tips of the thinning shears are rounded, making them that much safer to use on your pet. Lookup a video for trimming around the eyes safely with thinning shears. 
  • Safely filing the nails with a pet Dremel or actual nail file for humans 
    • nowadays it’s just plain safer to Dremel/file your dog’s nails rather than trim, especially at home.  If you don’t have a Dremel readily available, you can ALWAYS use a human nail file for women. It helps if you really just need to dull down the sharp ends of your dog’s nails.  I know an incredible groomer who only uses this method because he finds that dogs don’t ever really oppose it.
  • Brushing your dog with a brush spray or dog conditioner diluted with water 
    • Earlier on I spoke about having “slip”–a term used in the African American community–to help easily brush through your dog’s coat, lessening friction and pain.  I highly recommend using brush sprays that are NOT silicon-based because it can cause build-up on the coat, and it’s not really safe for your dog to ingest when they lick themselves.  If you don’t have a brush spray or detangler, I recommend using a doggie conditioner with a ratio of 1 part conditioner, 10 parts water, diluted in a spray bottle. Allow the spray of your choice to bead up on the top layer of the coat and then brush through the hair following up with a comb.
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
  •  Using treats and positive reinforcement to help with the grooming process
    • Treats are always the best for any dog but positive reinforcement makes grooming that much better. At our Salon, Pawsome Pets, these are the two things we practice to help turn terrified dogs around. We get them comfortable, relaxed and push them towards positive association with grooming.  And we also encourage our pet parents to bring treats along with them to their pets grooming appointments if they know that grooming isn’t their favorite. It helps! And if you want more information on how to get your dog to love grooming, check out my other post here→ 7 Ways to Get Your Dog to Love Grooming
  • Knowing when to seek expert help when grooming your dog
    • In addition to years of training and experience, Dog groomers are taught to handle their scissors with care and proper direction, while having the dog elevated on a table at eye level and standing still with a grooming loop for extra precaution. 
    • This is what sets groomers apart from simply grooming at home for money.  The exchange is professionalism, knowledge, wisdom, experience, and in most cases ongoing training with the latest information and technology. 
    • Please don’t risk the safety or mental well-being of your pet. Please know when to seek the help of a professional. We groomers are here for a reason! 

In conclusion, I hope this post has helped you understand the safest and no-so-safe ways to make grooming at home the best experience for you and your pet. 

With Gratitude,




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