If you choose to groom your dog at home by yourself, knowing how to use dog clippers safely and properly when trimming or cutting your dog's hair is vital. Dogs are known to be afraid of the sound of hair clippers, which can sometimes make a grooming session a nightmare for you.
1. Select the Right Dog Hair Clipper
You'll want to select a pair of dog hair clippers by picking the right size for your dog. You don't want a small set of clippers if you're trying to cut the hair of a Saint Bernard or a large set to trim your Yorkie.
I also recommend looking for a pair of dog hair clippers designed with a quiet motor. You won't find a silent clipper, but some are less noisy.
And the less noise the clipper's motor makes, the easier it will be to cut your dog's hair.
The loud buzzing sound of clippers generally makes most dogs nervous.
Once you've selected a good set of pet clippers that fit the dog's coat, you also need to think about how comfortable they are for you.
Choose a lightweight set that won't make your hand and arm tired after only a few minutes of grooming.
The final decision can be made in terms of cord. Some clippers are cordless, meaning they will run on batteries and you'll need to recharge them.
This makes them slightly more convenient because the cord isn't in the way; however, most high-quality clippers will not be cordless, so if it's not an issue for you, I recommend bypassing this aspect.
2. Prepare Your Dog
Before you begin learning how to use dog clippers properly, you'll need to prepare your pooch for the grooming session.
This means a quick wash, then drying off and brushing your pup.
This will ensure that there are no mats, tangles or debris. If your clippers get caught up on tangled fur, it will cause your dog a great deal of pain.
If you haven't already, you can also take care of your dog's nails and cut or trim them.
Because some dogs are more squirmy, you'll save yourself scratches, and will have a more stable dog on the surface.
3. Have a Trimming/Shaving Plan
As you'll see me demonstrate in my video above, there's a certain pattern to follow.
First, you want to clip the hair in the direction that it grows.
This is often confusing for new home groomers.
I know that it seems like you should shave against the hair growth, but this will cause unsightly lines that you won't be able to get rid of.
Be very careful not to press down on the clippers.
Applying too much pressure could result in scratching or cutting your pet's skin.
Instead, go in small increments, and trim the same area several times, as needed, until you get to the desired hair length.
4. Follow a Certain Pattern
Start at the dog's neck and work your way down to the base of the tail.
This isn't only due to hair growth, but also because the dog is likely to respond better to clippers when you're gradually moving them away from their face just as they're getting used to the clipper's sound and movement.
I do not recommend shaving or trimming your dog's hair randomly and haphazardly.
It's easiest to do one side of your dog at a time. So, shave a line down your pet's back and then choose a side to complete first, and begin working on that.
You'll need to move the clippers slowly down the dog's body.
Going too fast not only makes your pooch uncomfortable, but it may also result in unattractive lines in the finished coat that you won't be able to get rid of.
Once you've established a pattern of trimming hair, stick to it.
Dogs like routine, and the more familiar they are with your movements, the less anxious your pooch will be the next time you get to groom them.
5. Be Aware of the Clipper's Heat
Many people do not realize that as you're learning how to use dog clippers properly and safely, the blades of the pet hair clipper will be heating up.
The heat from the motor and the friction of the blades creates heat.
You need to stop clipping every few minutes and test the heat of the blades on your skin.
If you're not paying attention, you could end up burning your dog.
This is known as clipper burn, and is sadly a very common mishap for at-home groomers (and even some beginner professionals).
6. Take Breaks, and Keep Your Dog Calm
If your dog begins to get antsy, simply take a short break and then get back to it. Rushing will only make the finished product very unpleasant.
There are some techniques I like to use to keep my dogs calm during grooming sessions.
As you're shaving or trimming your dog's coat, remember to praise your pet and provide encouragement in a calm, soft voice.
After the few first sessions, give your dog treats to for a positive association and to make them less anxious on the next session.
Bonus Tips and Tricks
In addition to all of the above advice, remember to incorporate these other tips and tricks as you use dog clippers:
- Get your dog used to clippers from a young age.
- Choose the appropriate blade for your dog’s coat.
- Keep the blades sharp, as this reduces hair pulling.
- Never cool the blades with water.
- Take advantage of the guide comb to prevent nicks and deliver consistency.
- Have a final appearance in mind.
- When in doubt, consider asking a professional to show you (and offer to pay them).
In the beginning, it will probably take you a long time to give a dog a haircut to the fullest, but that's okay.
As you get used to the type of dog hair clippers you're using, you'll be able to work faster.
Get yourself and your pooch prepared. When you start, go slow and encourage your dog's bravery.
Clip with the hair growth, and routinely check the temperature of the blades.
If you follow these tips and tricks, you'll know how to use dog clippers safely in no time.
If you're completely new to at-home pet grooming, I recommend seeking advice and guidance of a professional groomer before you begin, or watching them at the salon.
They can give you pointers about an appropriate cut for the dog, best dog hair clippers to use, and how often you'll need to trim your pet's fur.
They can also tell you some of the common grooming issues that may pop up with your breed and what to be looking for.