Introduction: DIY Dog Grooming - Save $500/YR

About: Hi, I'm Shari! I'm a busy wife and mom with two tween/teen daughters, and I work full-time. You'll find that the recipes and products in my blog have become huge time-savers for my family.

Here are my BEFORE and AFTER photos from grooming my Maltese at home. Isn't she adorable??? She is now 4 years old and I estimate that I've saved at least $2,000 so far in doing my own grooming and invested less than $50 in grooming tools. You can visit my website for my grooming video and for links to the tools I use. I also include tips for avoiding mistakes I've made over the years!

Be sure to check out my other Instructables and my website for easy weeknight recipes for busy families!

Skip ahead to the next step if you want to go straight to the instructions. Read on about the day we brought our three pound bundle of joy home. :)

Bringing Our Puppy Home and Her First Night Shenanigans

Our dog Summer came into our lives in the spring of 2013. We found a local breeder about a month before the pups were born so we had to wait 4 (extremely long) months to bring her home. It was the usual cold and miserable winter-spring weather here in Minnesota, so all of that played into coming up with her name. We kept coming back to the name Summer. It was the perfect fit for our seemingly never-ending wait and she was our little while light at the end of the winter tunnel.

We were immediately in love, but it wasn't always easy, especially in those first few months. Here’s something I wrote about her the first night she came home to live with us. Our little 3 and a half pound bundle of joy had me up all night, so I saved this note on my phone about her shenanigans:

Sweet Summer, I love you tons already. I am writing this at 5 a.m. and I am officially calling 4 a.m. playtime over. No, you cannot eat my phone, lick daddy’s ears or sleep across his neck. No, you cannot explore under my bed or eat the Skittle you found. Please, no chewing on my hair or my fingers. You should not walk on my nightstand and fall down between it and the wall, requiring urgent rescue. Here, chew on your bacon flavored bone. Yes, you can sleep between daddy’s feet, I guess.

Step 1: Gather Tools. Wash, Dry and Brush Out Hair

Essential Tools (go to website for details on the tools I use)

my favorite scissors (almost 1,000 reviews, nearly 5 stars)

pin brush

grooming comb

thinning shears

These essential tools cost less than $50 to start doing your own grooming

Step 2: Hold Hair Between Fingers and Trim in Vertical Motion

Trimming in an up/down motion helps to create a more even cut. Putting the hair between your first two fingers acts as a gauge for an even cut and also helps you avoid accidentally cutting your pup.

If you cut horizontally side to side, you'll tend to pull the hair downwards which creates obvious trim marks.

Step 3: Hold Out Each Leg and Trim Straight Across

Gently comb and/or pull the hair downwards while holding the dog's leg horizontally. Trim straight across along the length of each leg.

Step 4: Trim Pads

Gently pull the hair out from between the dog's pads and trim off.

Step 5: Trim Ears

I hold Summer's ears straight up over her head, then place bottom of my fingers right along the end of her ears. I then trim the length sticking up over the tops of my fingers, which leaves about 1/2 inch past the actual ear length.

Trimming upwards like this creates a natural feathered edge when the ears are down so the cut is not too blunt.

Step 6: Trim Muzzle and Near Corners of Eyes

Watch the video for this part!

It's hard to get the muzzle cut even when you're just eyeballing where to cut.

My trick is to comb and hold the hair from the sides over her muzzle up over her nose and cut in a straight line.

When the hair falls back into place, it is even and has a naturally feathered edge.

Carefully trim the corners of the eyes and eyebrows.

Step 7: Use Thinning Shears to Even Out Blunt Cuts

Thinning shears are scissors that have small notches along the length of the cutting surface so that some hairs are left untouched, while others are cut. You can use this to even out any blunt or obvious cut marks.

Step 8: All Done! Enjoy Your Soft, Fluffy Puppy!