For many pet owners, keeping their dog(s) properly trimmed and groomed can be quite the task. Whether you have a seemingly ever-shedding Great Pyrenees, a doodle with tight curls, or a dachshund, proper grooming should always stay top of mind.

And while the vast majority of pet owners frequently take their pups to a professional for this service, there are still many things you should be doing in-between trips to the groomer.

To provide her professional insight on this topic, we called up Alli Graf (@Styledby_alli), NYC based in-home dog groomer to some very beautiful Instagram pups, like @pupwithnojob.

Here’s what Alli had to say about some of the most common grooming questions!


Dog specific shampoo is formulated for use as frequently as you’d like, unlike human shampoo, which is much harsher and can strip away important oils. To keep your dog smelling fresh, bathe them as frequently as you feel needed. This can vary based on their outdoor activity, hair type, and even the season. Just make sure their skin does not get too dry or starts to flake.

It’s important to make sure that the shampoo does not get into your dogs eyes. This can be extremely painful for your pup and could even lead to an ulcer. If this does occur, make sure you thoroughly flush out their eyes with cool water.

Pro tip: Always thoroughly brush your dog before bathing so that any existing knots do not get more tightly wound in the water.


Take your dog out of the water and pat dry with a clean towel. Keep them indoors and start by letting them air dry until they are about 80% dry before you use the hair dryer. Always keep the blow dryer moving while drying, as to not burn your pup’s skin.

The trick in all of this is to desensitize your dog to experiences like the bath and the blow dryer, because they can be shocking and scary for dogs the first few times. It will also help to make grooming less of a scary event if this is all routine stuff that is done at home as well.


This is so important, no matter what type of hair your dog has! The goal should be to brush your dog daily, but if that isn’t attainable, shoot for 3 to 4 times per week. Take your time brushing and really get down to the skin, not just the top layer. Separate the hair as you brush, to ensure that you’re getting down to the skin and brushing out any knots.

Pro tip: Make a habit of brushing your dog at the end of the day while they’re relaxed and tired. Consistency is key, and eventually your dog will learn to enjoy and expect the brushing, versus avoiding it and thinking that it is a punishment.

Nail Trimming

Trimming your dogs nails can be a daunting task. Alli suggests leaving this to the professionals, but sometimes you have to trim at home in between trips to the groomer. If so, stay calm and be gentle with your dog. Much like brushing, trim their nails at night while they are relaxed and comfortable. Sit (or stand) behind your dog and bend the paw backward so that it is facing the ceiling, as this will be much more comfortable and natural for them than trimming from the front. Cut little by little, never trimming too far at once, as this could cause pain and bleeding. Having the paw facing up will give you more of an idea of when to stop cutting as you will see a little dot in the center of the nail which means that you are getting close to the vein.

Keep Calm

Your dog can sense your energy–stay calm and relaxed when bathing, drying, brushing, or trimming their nails. Staying calm and confident when dropping your pup off at the groomer, too, is very important. In doing so, it’ll help your dog to feel confident as well. Make sure that this routine becomes a normal part of a dog’s life at a young age.

You want to desensitize young puppies to touches, noises and being handled, so playing with their feet and gently tugging at their ears regularly will make it much easier when the groomer works around those areas. Start taking your pup to the groomer as soon as you get the green light from the vet, even if it’s just for a bath. Grooming or bathing should never be seen as a punishment, but it can start to feel that way for dogs if it’s not done frequently enough.

Pro tip: Take your dog on a long run or walk before grooming and tire them out. When they are physically calm, their minds are much more calm and they will be open to new experiences like grooming.

Find the Right Groomer

Make sure you do your research and find a groomer that will fit the needs of both you and your pup! Do they have the right experience you’re looking for? Do they keep their space clean and inviting? Ask questions like how long dogs are kept in cages while they’re in their care. At home grooming can be a great option for dogs that may be negatively effected by the grooming salon experience.


Alli Graf is a professional dog groomer with over 10 years of experience. Based in New York City, Alli has clients (of all breeds) across the world, and is expanding her business due to the rising demand of in-home grooming services for dogs.

*All photos courtesy of Alli Graf. View more of her work HERE and inquire regarding services at *