Featured Dogs

Grooming Tails: Proper Trimming and Thinning

Groom At HomeIf you’re feeling a bit nervous about getting ready to trim your sweet pet at home, don’t fret – all it takes is a little knowledge and practice. One of the most important parts of any good trim job are grooming tails; proper trimming and thinning are the key ways to keep their waggers neat, tidy, and tangle free. You will need several basic tools before you get started. These include a simple steel comb found at any pet store to de-tangle the area, a rubber pin brush for more difficult tangles, a pair of larger pet hair scissors for thinning, as well as a set of manual or electric clippers to remove the bulk of the hair.

First Comes The Bath

Before you clip or trim anything, the most important prep work is a thorough bath. When getting ready for grooming tails, proper trimming and thinning starts with a clean doggy. Use canine shampoo and get all excess dirt, ticks, and fleas off of the hair to ensure a clean surface to work with. Rinse thoroughly and get any leftover shampoo residue off in the tub. It’s much harder to get an even fur length when debris is in your way. After your dog has been carefully towel dried, it’s time to get your grooming tools in place. Lay them out on a small towel on the floor or table you’ll be grooming on. It’s helpful to have a large, flat, and even surface to work with.

Safety Considerations

The next thing you’ll want to take into consideration is safety. Pay attention when selecting tools for grooming – using scissors with rounded safety tips can help reduce the risk of any cuts to your dog. Shears with points should also be avoided as they pose a higher risk of injury if your pet changes position suddenly. Whenever possible, do not remove debris or mats from the fur using scissors, if you encounter them later on in the process, simply go back to one of your brushes, and give it a second comb through. You will also want to make sure that the scissors you use are not too dull. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to get a new pair at least once a year.

Time To Adjust

Fur BabyIt’s also helpful to give your fur baby a little time to adjust to the tools you’re about to use as this will reduce the risk of fear-based mistakes. A scared dog may jerk or try to bound away suddenly so give him or her a chance to get familiar with what you’ll be using to lower their anxiety in advance. Never groom when you’re in a hurry or rush the process. If you do, a tool can get stuck in the coat and be a painful experience for your pet. Try to relax and enjoy what you’re doing – after all, you get to be your best friend’s hair stylist for a day. Small dogs may need to be wrapped in a blanket to keep them still but a little coaxing and a treat or two may be all you need to keep them from moving too much. Another tip is attaching the dog to his or her leash and then securing the leash a foot or two away. This will give your furry friend room to move and get comfortable but not so much that they can leap away and injure themselves during the process.

Now We Comb

Now that you and your dog are comfortable with the tools, begin by taking the steel comb and running it all the way through the tail. Ensure that there are no snags or knots catching as you go, if you pull too hard through a snag this will be uncomfortable for your fur baby. When you do run into a knot, carefully lift the comb and run it through the area a few more times making sure not to pull too hard on the tail itself. A little extra water in a spray bottle can work wonders to assist you in removing more stubborn knots. If you happen to run into a hard to tame tangle that just won’t quit, set down the steel comb and switch to using your rubber pin brush. Carefully run it over the length of the tail from base to tip until no knots remain. Once that tail is as tangle-free as possible, you’ll be ready for the main events of trimming and thinning.

Trimming Begins

Trimming BeginsIn the next step of grooming tails, proper trimming and thinning will prevent excess dirt and debris as well as painful and difficult to remove knots from building as the hair grows out later. Many pet owners wait too long to groom their pet and the job is more challenging when a lot of gunk and knots have accumulated. Be sure to give your dog a trim at least every few months. Before getting started with the trim, you will definitely want to double check that you are using a blade of the right length for the fur type you’re working with. Most electric clippers will have a blade shield that can be adjusted to customize the length of hair that’s being removed. Dogs with naturally very short hair will need a longer shield length as less hair will be removed from the tail. Pooches that are more on the fluffy side will require a shorter shield length as more hair will be taken off.

Find The End

The first part of trimming starts by running your palm softly down the dog’s tail until you find the end of the tailbone itself. Lightly hold onto the spot just before the tip of the tail to give yourself a visual guide of where to cut and remove the extra fur. If you cut beyond this point, it may alter the appearance of the tail more than desired. Remember – you only want a trim and tidy fido, not a bald one. Be sure not to go too fast and always work your way down to the tip, not up towards the base. The tip area is very sensitive so take extra care when handling this area to avoid any cuts or nicks.

Repeat As Needed

Keep in mind that you may need to go over the same area several times to get all the extra fur and using a shorter length setting near the base and hindquarters will help reduce the amount of poop that can get stuck in longer fur as it grows out. Use standard dog clippers to shorten the length of the tailcoat to a comfortable length aiming to keep the body coat and tail as close to the same length as possible. You can also use regular cuticle scissors to pick up any stray longer spots of hair missed by the larger clippers or scissors. Whether you use electric or manual clippers is your choice. However, dogs that tend to squirm around more when held may benefit from electric clippers as they can be utilized to tame excess hair at a faster rate.

Thinning Scissors

Dog Grooming Scissors By BoshelThinning the tail requires another tool in your grooming arsenal – the thinning scissors. It’s helpful to practice the cutting motion over your own arm before you start thinning your dog’s tail. Hold the scissors flat an inch above your skin and open and close them a few times to test the resistance of the scissors. Once you have the motion down, you’re ready for the real thing. Dogs with long and fluffy tails will often need the tail thinned out in addition to getting trimmed during a groom. Grasp the base of the tail with one hand and cut the hair at a downward angle an inch or so at a time. Be sure not to keep your cutting hand straight so that the hair doesn’t end up multiple lengths. You will also want to hold the thinning scissors close to their body and keep them as straight as you can to avoid any nicks. If your dog is struggling to stay still during the process, take a break for a few moments and give them some reassurance. Thinning is the finishing touch to any well-groomed tail and the most “hands-on”, detailed part, of the process. It’s ok if it takes a little longer than expected. After a few successful grooms, you’ll be surprised how much faster you’ve become with practice.

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Feeling Proud

Once you’ve successfully finished grooming tails, proper trimming and thinning is something you can feel proud of. Why spend a ton of money going to a groomer you don’t even know when you can save money and take care of your dog’s needs at home? The extra money you just saved caring for their tails at home, will allow you to buy them an extra toy or two, and then some, to reward them for their cooperation. The savings of home grooming add up over the years – each time you save on a groomer, you can put your funds towards food, veterinary care, or just spoiling your beloved furry friend.