AKA - Do I really have to do this?
My own hair, I am fine with. I don't care if the colour grows out, my grey roots are exposed, and I'll probably even have a hack at it myself if it gets too long. I've never cut my own hair, but I'm not scared of giving it a go.
Our poodle and goldendoodle though? I very much didn't want to have to even attempt it. We get them groomed regularly specifically because we know the groomer is going to do a great job, and this seems preferable to chasing a dog around the house with a comb. And clippers? Never used them, don't want to.
However, the weather was due to get warmer, their coats were getting longer - needs must.
I'm lucky, in that I have been with our wonderful groomer (Elspeth, at The Wag Wash Dog Grooming, in Aston) whilst she’s groomed Gus (to make sure he doesn’t eat her). I also contacted her for some tips. I absolutely recommend you contact your own dog groomer if you need advice - this is my experience of grooming our dog, not a 'how to' guide.
I also watched a LOT of dog grooming videos on YouTube before starting.
Start With The Basics
Before you even think about going anywhere near your dog with clippers, you need to thoroughly brush out their coat, remove any mats, and make sure a comb passes through easily (our groomer has a saying ‘the comb never lies’, so, however good a job you think you’re doing, a comb will let you know).
If you're lucky, you have a small dog, that can be popped onto a kitchen counter or table for this.
If you're me, you have two enormous dogs, who would rather eat your hand than let you near them with a brush.
I decided to start with Gus, our poodle, as he is the calmer, soppier dog of the two. Here's how he was looking 'before' (by the way - you'd have thought I'd have got the photographer in the household to take a photo - I didn't).
Brush, comb, repeat...and repeat...and repeat...
I will say at this point, brushing and combing a big dog takes hours. You know when your groomer tells you that you should brush them every day? Turns out they really mean properly. Who knew?
Fortunately, the field where we'd been walking every day, had been a muddy swamp until this point. I say 'fortunately' because this meant we'd been washing mud off the dogs, daily. Gus wasn't too tangly, and didn't have mats (which would have had to be cut out).
We use a ‘normal’ brush (one of those ones with brush one side, pins, on the other), a slicker for poodles/doodles (I checked with the groomer I was getting the right thing) and a comb.
I am sure I have read somewhere that you start at the back of the dog, so that’s what I did. Eventually, a comb went through easily (to give an idea, this took half a day! He wasn’t keen).
Then onto washing. Again, start at the back of the dog (because when you get to the head, they’ll shake). Give them a good wash, and rinse thoroughly.
I used this shampoo.
Wait for your dog to dry - this will take approximately forever
Then, you have a soaking wet dog. They have to be dry to be clipped, so we towel dried him, and left him ages. He was wet for HOURS. Eventually, I got the hairdryer out, on a cool setting, and brushed/combed/dried him.
Have I mentioned how long all this takes? People, we don't pay groomers enough. Fact.
Once he was dry, time for the clippers. We got a kit from Amazon (and didn't spend a fortune, on the basis I knew I wasn't going to want to continue to groom the dogs myself on any kind of ongoing basis).
I have never used clippers and was basically terrified that I was going to accidentally shave my dog.
Get brave with the clippers
I used the longest blade guard in the kit, because I was so scared I was going to nick my beloved boy.
As it happens, it was really easy to do. If there is one thing I am sure of, the prep pays off. Get your dog combed, and this part will be very, very easy.
If the fur has tangles, the clippers will get stuck and pull on the dog. Get tangle free and the clipping is straightforward. Again, I started on the back legs. I really recommend watching some professional groomers on YouTube for tips on clipping.
If you're nervous, like I was, start with a long blade guard - you can then use a shorter one once you've built your confidence (I went shorter on Gus' head).
Feet were tricky, I used the scissors there, and on his eyebrows and tail.
There was no way I was even attempting to use the nail clippers! If we start thinking there's a touch of the Freddy Krueger about him, maybe I'll try.
I've mentioned this all took a long time, right? One and a half days in total. Needless to say, it's been 2 weeks, and Ruby has yet to be attempted.