Do it yourself dog grooming

The main reason we started home haircuts was that poor old Tilly was getting very stressed when I would take her to get a trim, this earned her the nickname ‘stress-head’ at the groomers. She would shake and pant when we drove in, and was getting quite bitey with the poor groomer.

Step 1

Bath time. I always bath her the night before, (as she hates that too) so it’s less trauma on one day.


I will have revenge, human.

With tick season now in full swing, I’m currently using a neem shampoo bar alongside lavender shampoo from Faith in Nature. Both neem and lavender are natural tick and flea repellents, so coupled with her regular parasite treatment this further reduces the chance of ticks latching on.


Both shampoos are free from harsh chemicals, made in the UK, and and smell amazing!

Unless it’s a cold day, I let her air dry. As you may have guessed, Tilly hates the hairdryer. Her hair is still fairly short, so dries within a couple of hours. I like using a Dog Robe to get most of the moisture off.


Purple suits her well don’t you think?

Step 2

Brush brush brush. I use a wide toothed comb to tease through any knots. Again, not her favourite activity, but it has to be done! Poodles do in fact shed a tiny amount, but the dead hair stays in their fur and needs to be brushed out.


I start with the wider teeth, and work towards the smaller end.

I found a grooming table on eBay.


All fluffed up!

Step 3

I trim the ‘fro’, one of the easiest parts. I trim around the ears, top knot, and back of the head carefully with scissors. I bought them from Simpsons, and are lovely quality, with a handy hook to stop them from slipping.


I also trim the tail and rump at this point. I keep it short at the base and fan out, I call it the foxy look!

Step 4 

Clip O’clock. I use clippers that plug into the mains with interchangeable blades. For Tilly’s body and legs I tend to go with a 4 or 5 blade which is quite short. Thankfully a black dog hides a lot of rookie groomer sins!


With poodles it doesn’t matter which direction you clip the hair, so I go in a few directions to get an even cut.

dsc_0575 (1)

This is where it gets bitey. Madame Tilly likes to nibble clippers when I do her front legs, so when I came across ‘Calming Cradles‘ I had to get one. They are based in Hampshire too, so it came really quickly!

This was our first time using it, and it has made such a difference, the fabric harness provides great support and means I can groom her legs and feet with much less fuss.


I must admit, we all had a good chuckle at this!

I give Tilly lots of little breaks so she can relax and forget about it for a few minutes in her own garden. Although she does look an absolute freight mid way through a haircut…

Step 5 

If her snout needs doing then I use a small battery powered clipper which has a very close shave. I have to be firm, yet calm, as Tilly will constantly move her snout away.


In the summer I make more of an effort to trim her feet. Black fluffy dogs just aren’t cut out for the heat, and as dogs sweat through their pads, I give her the best chance to cool down by shaving her little toes. It may not look as cute, but it does mean less dirt on the floor too!



I save doing her nails for another day.

I have the utmost respect for those who groom pets for a living. One haircut really takes it out of me! I don’t know how they do it…


For me, grooming Tilly at home has been a brilliant decision. She is nowhere nearly as stressed as she used to get. She doesn’t shake or pant, she just clings to me in an attempt to escape, but that’s typical Tilly ‘the master manipulator’ behaviour.

Once the equipment had payed itself off, we started to save money. That’s £35 every 6 weeks we get to keep. I also learnt a new skill! I may not be the best, but I think she looks pretty smart.

Grooming your dog at home isn’t for everyone, it takes time, patience, and practice. But if you want to save money, invent your own dog hairstyles, and you’re willing to learn (YouTube is great for tutorials), go for it!

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed seeing what goes into making Tilly look her best.

Amy & Tilly


10 thoughts on “Do it yourself dog grooming

  1. Susan Pugh says:

    I trim our Gordon and English setters too. My husband was a pro when we had Irish setters and were doing the shows. Josey the Gordon actually loves the clippers and Rhippah the English tolerates but does stay still. So much money saved and stress alleviated. Tilly looks gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

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