How NOT to Groom a Dog

All of us dog-owners would love to see our canine companions always at their best. But not all of us want to shell out the big bucks to get them there.
“So Danielle,” you might ask, “how do I save money by trimming my dog’s hair at home by myself?”

My answer is: “Don’t ask me! I’m an Advertiser, for Pete’s sake!”

Now that you have been sufficiently warned, here is my no-nonsense manual for taking your dog and putting his or her social standing in your hands. Cancel that appointment with the prohibitively expensive pet-beautician and away we go.


Office scissors (1 pair), open outdoor space (50 square feet or more), doggie treats (about five) and dog (approximately 1)

The Process of Grooming


1) Using a trail of doggie treats, lure dog outside into backyard. Try to get the animal outdoors. You don’t want dog hair flying around the living room and sticking to the couch. You might have a vacuum cleaner to pick the mess up, but trust me, you don’t want to go through that. Plus you don’t want to get distracted when you hear one of the contestants on Wheel of Fortune gets a word spectacularly wrong–the dog really doesn’t really care. But she will take advantage with how much you do.

2) Give the dog a tummy rub. This will relax her, and settle her down. This will also give you a chance to appreciate the fact that she smells like the locker room of an old gym, because you haven’t bathed her since Al Gore ran for president. That’s more than a half-century in dog-years. Take the chance to check for burrs and stickers stuck to her fur, so you can gently pull them out. Also take note of clumped hair, which may be insects that have gotten embedded there. In our case, it is usually chewing gum.

3) Try to envision how you would like the dog to look after the haircut. I try to imagine my dog in leotards, high-kicking like one of the Rockettes and earning her own keep, so I better rephrase that. At least try to remember what she looked like under all that disgusting jungle-hairy-scraggly overgrowth, like something that you should be pulling out of the sink and throwing away, instead of taking to the vet.

4) Now grab a clump of hair between your first and second fingers to determine how much you want to trim. Take the scissors in the other hand. Talk to the the dog in a calm, reassuring voice (“Ohmygosh, don’t you dare move!”) as you gently snip the excess hair away. Now do try to do the same with her belly-hair.

5) Now grab your own hand as she jumps up and bolts away, complete with cartoon-like special effects of hopping straight up in mid-air and comically thrashing all five limbs in twenty-nine different directions before touching the ground and zooming away, leaving a white, miniature dust-cloud behind in her place.

Optional Materials: Bandages and disinfectant

6) You didn’t know haircuts could scare a dog that much, did you? Oh well, never mind. You didn’t know scissors could jump out of your hand, do a double-twisting somersault, and bite you on the back of the knuckles, either.

7) Chase the dog down and leash her down this time. Step on one end of the leash, continuing to whisper reassuringly to her (“That’ll hold ya!”) as you get her to lie down and continue with her haircut. Work on her back and hindquarters, going along the grain. Try to recall if “along the grain” applies to hair cutting, or woodwork. Maybe it’s butchery. It’s a dog, and shouldn’t matter so much–does it…Girl?

8) Pick yourself off the ground because the dog bolted away again, this time fast enough to haul the leash from under your foot, causing you to tumble backwards and bump your head onto the concrete. Less running after the dog is necessary at this point, because she will notice you’ve spilled the bag of dog-treats all over the driveway. She will circle around and warily approach the pile of treats near you. She will not completely trust you; you are a wily, intelligent, and tricky human, after all. Nab her when she gets close, but not before going back into the kitchen to get some ice for your head.

9) Answer the door, and explain to the nice young newspaper salesperson who rang your doorbell that you don’t have time to talk because your dog is bounding around the neighborhood and might engage in a canine-style UFC match with the neighbor’s dog. This will not be a lie.

10) After paying for the overpriced newspapers that you’ll never see, locate the dog under the dining table, eating a Milk-Bone. She will not want to leave from under there. Crouch next to her quietly and continue snipping away. Reassure her with these words: “Don’t worry, it’ll all grow back”.

11) Continue to snip her hair as she gets up and walks to her blanket. Do a crouching, squatting waddling-type walk as you follow her across the living room. Stop when your knees get sore. This will finally leave her ruff, ears, and tail untouched (forget about the legs, that’s as futile as polishing Hummer tires). Just tell people you like her tail bushy–and her rear with that bald spot on it. Take some anithistamines when your eyes and nose start running.

12) Sweep up the driveway, Swiffer up the floor, vacuum the sofa, mop up the dining room (don’t ask, just do it), and generally wipe down everything in the living room– everything, at least, that visitors are likely to look at. They won’t notice that two-foot high mound of dog hair (without the dog) piled up under the coffee table.

Inventory the Costs

Office Scissors: $5
Leash: $4.50
Bandages and Disinfectant: $3.50
Aspirin: $1
Anithistamines: $7
Icepack for head-bump: $2
Broom: $9
Replacement Vacuum bags: $9.99

Bragging to your relatives that you saved a bundle by grooming the dog yourself: PRICELESS!