Grooming Your Dog's Hair with a Clipping

Before you cut your first dog hair, make sure you treat your dog safely and plan how you're going to clip her. Your dog needs to be clean and have all mats and tangles brushed out of her coat before you start clipping. Doing so makes it easier for you to clip the coat evenly.

Preparing for success

You have your clippers and your dog. Now, what do you do to keep from running afoul while using the clippers? Here are some handy tips for getting your dog used to the clippers and keeping your dog looking good:

  • Start clipping your dog as early as possible, even as a puppy. Getting an older dog used to the clippers is much harder than training a puppy to accept them.
  • Compare the sound level of various clippers and choose the quietest one. Loud buzzing would scare humans, too!
  • Read about your dog's breed standard. Often, you can get clues about how your dog's coat should look and how to make it look that way.
  • Check out the breed club's Web site for tips on how club members clip their dogs. Some breed clubs provide free guidelines on how their dogs should look.
  • Have a professional groomer or a breeder show you how your dog's coat needs to be clipped. Most groomers and breeders are happy to spend a little time helping you get it right.

If you make a mistake, don't fret. Your dog may have a bad hair day, but it'll eventually grow out. The main thing to be concerned with is using your clippers safely.

Using clippers safely

Here are some handy guidelines for safely using clippers on your dog's coat:

  • Be sure your clipper blades are sharp. Dull clippers pull hair more.
  • Choose the clipper blade that works best with the specific type of coat your dog has so you achieve the result you want.
    If you're not sure about the cut of the blade you're using, you can try using one of the many snap-on guide combs that are available. These combs help you make a uniform cut.
  • Always use clipper coolant or lubricant on your blades to keep them from getting too warm and burning your dog. Coolant or lubricant is available separately through pet supply catalogs and on the Internet. Clipper blades can become extremely hot, especially when you use them for a long time. If you burn your dog, she won't soon forget and will decide that clippers are no fun. Make sure that you wipe off any excess lubricant, or you'll end up getting oil all over that nice clean coat.
    Frequently turn your clippers off and touch them to make sure they're not too hot. If they become too warm, simply spray on the coolant. It's made especially for cooling down hot clippers. (Follow the directions on the canister.) When the clippers become too warm, you can also

• Switch blades and let the hot ones cool down.

• Switch to another clipper (if you have one).

• Place the blade on a metal surface, which quickly cools it off (a cookie or baking sheet works).

Making your first clip

Before you turn on the clippers, make sure that your dog is clean and free of tangles and mats. Hold the clippers in a way that feels comfortable in your hand and gives you the most control over the clippers.

The best way to find out how to use your clippers is to start by neatening up areas where your dog already has been trimmed but where the fur has grown a little untidy. By starting with an inconspicuous area that needs some neatening up, you can easily find out how much hair your clipper and blade take off. If the amount of hair you removed is too much or too little, you can adjust by switching to a more appropriate blade.

Before moving on into the deep fur, however, make sure that you've chosen the clipper size that works best for your dog's coat and the right blade. The higher the number of the blade, the shorter and finer the cut.

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