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Every dog parent knows how important it is to keep a regular grooming schedule and provide skin and coat maintenance between salon visits. Now, with the global pandemic, limited access to professional grooming services, and tight budgets during these difficult times, a lot of us are tackling our dogs’ hair care duties at home.
If you share your heart and home with a Shih Tzu, Lhasa Apso, Havanese, Poodle, Pomeranian, or any mixes of these or dozens of other long-coated breeds, you may need to take extra steps to care for their eyes, too. Besides obstructing their vision, excessively long eye hair can harbor dirt and germs, become painfully matted, or can scratch the eyes and lead to serious long-term damage. Besides, wouldn’t you rather gaze into those sweet puppy dog eyes than a tangled mess of fur?
Before beginning any at-home grooming routine, you’ll want to make safety a priority. If your dog doesn’t tolerate being groomed or won’t hold still—especially for delicate eye grooming—it may be best to leave eye trims to a professional. You’ll also want to immediately start implementing these 7 Steps to Raising a Dog That Enjoys Being Groomed to make the task easier on you, your dog, and your favorite groomer.
In the video below, Andis Grooming Educator and professional groomer, Anne Francis (along with her adorable rescue dog, Shay) demonstrates how to clean and trim around your dog’s eyes. With the proper precautions and the right tools, it’s a task that any determined pet parent can handle with ease.
First, you’ll want to prepare a designated grooming station. If you have a portable grooming table already, great! If not, any sturdy, elevated surface will work just fine. Many pet parents use a washing machine or countertop for smaller dogs or a lower table for the bigger breeds. Just be sure to lay down a non-slip pad, yoga mat, or towel to help your dog feel secure and never leave them unattended while they’re off the floor. Once you’ve prepared your work surface, gather your supplies.
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Start With a Clean Slate
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to start any grooming procedure with your dog having already been cleaned, brushed, and completely dry. Likewise, before trimming your dog’s eyes, they’ll need to be cleaned, free of tangles, and the hair dried of any excess moisture or eye cleaning solution.
If you don’t already, it’s a good idea to check your dog’s eyes for any build-up in the corners and keep them cleaned as often as every day. Excessive build-up can lead to soreness, bacterial growth, and odors. However, if your dog has developed some build-up in their eyes, you can use warm water and a cotton ball to soften the “eye gunk”, then use a flea comb to carefully and gently comb the debris away from the eyes.
Time to Trim
Now that your dog’s eyes are cleaned of any build-up, you’re ready to begin the trim. In this video, Anne offers lots of advice for grooming your dog at home, including how to properly hold your grooming shears, tips for trimming safely and neatly, and tricks for getting your dog to hold still.
1. Using your steel comb, comb the dog’s hair from just above the eyes backward and out of the eyes. With your thinning shears, clip the hair in the inside corners of the eyes at an angle, like an upside-down V. After trimming, comb the hair to check for missed pieces and trim again until you reach the desired look.
2. To trim the bangs, comb or brush them all forward, then using your safety-tipped shears, trim a “visor” straight across the dog’s face above the eyes. Then, re-comb the hair forward and trim again to clean up any missed hairs. Then, simply brush the hair back into its natural position.
At this point, if you find an uneven cut or trim marks that you don’t like, use your thinning shears—commonly known to groomers as a “groomer’s eraser”—to clean up any harsh or uneven edges and blend the hair nicely into the surrounding coat.
Now you’re ready to enjoy an unobstructed view of those adorable puppy dog eyes looking back at you! And, your dog will look, see, and feel better, too.
For even more grooming tips and tricks, visit Andis Grooming College for answers to commonly asked questions, how-to videos, and step-by-step guides to grooming your dogs at home.
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