Lessons From a Groomer: How to Dry Your Pet Correctly

Mrs. Obvious is a mother, wife, and mentor. She used to own her own groom shop called Puppy Love and was self-employed for nine years.

To blow dry or not to blow dry, that is the question. Well folks, the answer is: to blow dry.

Why, you ask? For several reasons.

Do you need to blow dry a dog?

Blow drying your pet until its coat is all the way "bone" dry will make it look its best. The hair will be straight, fluffy, and clean. Poodles look more professional when blow dried and other breeds look full of body. I say the hair will be cleaner because a wet coat will immediately pick up all kinds of dirt if the pet is allowed to run and play while it is still wet. Also, most coats that don't get dried right away will harbor some musty or moldy smells, and that defeats the point of bathing in the first place.

How do I blow dry a dog?

So, how do you blow dry? I'm so glad you asked. I do recommend towel drying first to get most of the moisture off and lessen the time it takes to blow dry. Do not, for any reason rub vigorously with the towel. The up-and-down, back-and-forth motion only makes mats and tangles in the fur! Try the squeegee method instead, pressing and squeezing all over to allow the towel to soak up as much water as possible.Then pull out your dryer and get to work!

Dryers nowadays have so many settings. I recommend using a warm setting on the highest airflow speed that your dryer allows. The higher the airflow, the faster the coat will dry (the amount of airflow may be noted on the box as CFM, for cubic feet per minute, or as FPM). If you are going to buy a new hairdryer soon, look to see if the CFM/FPM is noted on the box and buy the one with the highest number, especially if you have a thick-coated dog. If you have a button for cool air, you can use it intermittently so you don't overheat your pet. I do not recommend using only cool air. If you were wet all over would you want to stand in front of a fan naked? No, of course not. So don't do that to your pet. If they are shivering, you should make the air a little warmer. Then blow drying will be seen as a good thing and not as something to be avoided. While you are blow drying, use your free hand to brush through the coat as you go. This will help speed the process. While you are brushing and drying keep your eyes open for mats and skin problems so that you can address them later.

What kind of blow dryer should I use to groom a dog?

We groomers do not use the same dryers that you buy for your hair on a retail level. We use several different types and they all have a special purpose. Force dryers, fluff dryers, and cage dryers are the main ones we use every day.

  • Cage dryers obviously are used to dry pets while in a cage. They usually have two relatively low airflow settings and several heat settings. It is imperative that your groomer use a low-heat/cool setting with this dryer because it takes longer to cage dry and pets can overheat in a cage. Pets must be checked every few minutes to ensure their safety. The benefit of using a cage dryer is that it is less scary for animals who are very nervous, especially cats. Very young animals and also very old animals are often much more comfortable being cage dried than force dried, a process I'll explain in a minute. Still other pets have no problem with being force dried but won't let you do their faces that way. (I don't blame them.)
  • Fluff/stand dryers are similar in strength and airflow capacity as your dryer at home, but are a lot more versitile. They usually have two knobs: one for airflow, and the other for variable heat. They are on a stand and may even have a hose attached so you can have fine control over where to direct the air. Without the hose attachment, you can point the air at the dog and still have both hands free to brush at the same time. They are great for finishing off faces or other areas you find that are still damp and to get the most fluff into a pet's coat.
  • Last but not least, the force dryer. This is my workhorse dryer that I couldn't live without. It only has a few settings: fast, faster, and fastest. Or, on some models, on and off. These dryers are not made with heating elements at all. They don't need one. Their purpose is to blast the water up and off of the coat when you hold the nozzle close to the skin. The only heat they produce is from their own motors as they get warm. You'll notice, if you ever get the chance to use one, that it appears that dust is flying out of the coat. This is not dust; it is actually water droplets and water vapor! These dryers were made to "force" the water off the hair, thus leaving the pet dry. They can get your pet completely dry in a few minutes, versus half an hour to an hour or more with other models. Other models are made to dry the water that is on the coat. This just removes the water from the coat. Sometimes I end up wearing the water, especially on thick coated dogs, where there is a lot to remove. After most of the water has been removed, the leftover dampness dries very quickly. The other neat thing about force drying is that it will also blast shedding hair out of a coat, making brushing 10 times easier, and it will straighten curly coats. A straight coat is ideal for working with when cutting the hair.

How to use a force dryer:

A lot of dogs don't like this dryer at first because it is very, very loud. Its like standing next to a mini jet engine. But if you slowly introduce this dryer and start on their butt, where it will feel like a massage, most dogs will allow you to use it without too much fuss once they are used to it. The important thing with this dryer is to not point it directly at the eyes, nose, ears, mouth, or genitals. That would just be mean, because it is too strong for these sensitive areas.

One other thing with force dryers that you do have to be careful about is not letting long hair form what we call "whip knots." A whip knot is formed when long hair is force-dried at an angle that allows the hair to "whip" around and double back on itself thus making a "knot" or matt. You can easily learn to avoid doing this by watching the long hair react to the direction of the air and adjusting your angle to the skin till the hair blows out straight away from the tip of your dryer without whipping back on itself. You can also use your free hand to hold down long sections of hair so that it doesn't whip. If you weren't aware of this possibility happening, you could end up with a miserable brush-out job that you created!

That's it!

So now you should be able to effectively dry your pet in the least amount of time possible. To review, you should towel dry with the "squeegee" method first, brush while you dry to look for potential problems, use warm air to be fair, and watch out for the whip. Pretty soon, you'll have your pet looking like a professional did its hair every time!

Types of Professional Grooming Dryers

What Do You Think?

Leah Makdisi on December 26, 2018:

My 13 year old Pappilon is getting more and more bossy. I’ve given her baths and blow dries since she was 5 months old but she has begun to bite when I’m working with her hind quarters and trimming her feet. I have not been able to correct this behavior and it is escalating. What can you suggest?

Clem on March 31, 2018:

How do these dryer cost?

Willow Mattox (author) from Northern California on February 26, 2018:

HV dryer??? I'm not sure what you meant. High Volume? Well, you might have to dry longer! LOL. Try brushing while you dry if you have extra hands or can position the dryer to blow on the dog while you are brushing. If the humidity builds up in the room, this can also make it feel like they never get dry. Try opening a window to let the warm moist air out. You can also try a cooler heat setting on the dryer to help get rid of that muggy feeling. Good luck!

Bobbie on February 12, 2018:

Thank you for the tips. I do however have a question. Even after using the HV dryer and a towel it seems the dog is still damp feeling. They never feel completely dry. What do I need to do to accomplish this?

PK Haney on June 09, 2017:

Thank you for all the much needed info. I am learning to groom my rescue poodle after losing my 2 terriers. You supplied the answer to every question on my mind and all the grooming problems I have come face to face with. There is no doubt in my mind that I can now succeed doing a much better job.

Tonya on December 05, 2009:

Thank you so much for the info on dryer types. I've been using a retail human blow dryer on my puppy but now I will purchase one of the dryers you mentioned.

A La Carte Services

At Patriot Pet Care, we provide a variety of à la carte services to add a special touch to our guests' experience. For an additional daily fee, your pet can enjoy one or more of the following add-on services:

  • Media Add-on - $5

Do you worry about your pet while you are on a trip? Let us ease your mind with our media add-on! You will receive picture and video updates on your pet while they enjoy their vacation with us!

  • Couch Cuddles Add-on - $5

Does your pet enjoy lounging on the couch? Then choose this add-on package to give them 20 minutes of couch lounging per day while you are away!

  • Walk Add-on - $7

Does your dog enjoy going out for walks? Choose this add-on for your dog to receive a 15 - minute walk through the local area to get out and stretch their legs!

  • Treats Add-on - $3

Does your pet enjoy getting treats at home? Than allow us to continue that routine with them during their stay. Your pet will receive the treats of your choice daily during their stay. *Options include a filled kong, a puppy ice cream, or liver treats (or cat treats).

  • Play Add-on $5

Is your dog or cat high-energy or do they enjoy individual play time? Then schedule time for them to get 15 minutes of personalized attention and play with this add-on!

  • Spa Day Add-on

Want your pet to come home fresh and clean? Add-on a spa day to be done the day you are scheduled to pick your pet up!

$20 basic bath up to 25 lbs.

$30 basic bath for more than 25 lbs.

* Other services vary according to breed and size of pet.

Our facility features indoor/outdoor runs. The indoor section of the run is climate-controlled by a twenty-four hour heating and cooling system. The outdoor section of the run is covered to provide shade in the summer and protection from the elements. All runs are constructed with small chain link fencing designed for pets to minimize the potential for injury. We encourage owners to bring their own pets food to avoid stomach upset. However we do provide food for sensitive systems (Purina* Pro Plan Sensitive Skin and Stomach for Dogs, and Purina* ONE Sensitive systems for Cats) if food is not brought in. An additional fee will be charged if extra preparation is required, such as heating, grinding or cooking. All food and medication brought in must be in a sealed, plastic container.

*Food available for an additional fee. Contact facility for details.

How can you keep from doing this? By keeping your clippers sharp. Grooming dog clippers should be kept sharp at all times because, like cutting your own hair, a sharp scissor can easily slice through hair without causing any tugging or discomfort to your skin. They also should be sharp because for some hard to reach places, like around the head and ears, you may only be able to cut with the top of the clippers

While trimming your pets’ fur, don’t push the clipper too fast, it will leave lines. Additionally, when cutting your dogs nails, Clipping too quickly also can cause distress on the dogs’ nails, which can cause discomfort, and squirming.

Dry Shampoo For Dogs: Convenient … But Is It Safe?

Guests are due to arrive at your house in 30 minutes. Dinner’s in the oven. You’re straightening the cushions on the couch when you smell … your dog.

With time of the essence, you decide to try out the dry dog shampoo you purchased for just these emergencies. No water required. It’s fast and easy.

The question is… what price are you willing to pay for this convenience?

1. Check the groomer's credentials.

You should look for a certificate, find out the type of training groomers have had and see how long they have been in the profession, Nash advised.

"What's true of a lot of salons is that they have a huge turnover rate,'' she said. "It's very hard to find good groomers."

Nash also notes to ask if your groomer stays up with the latest information and methods by going to industry shows and other professional development events.

Owners should also make sure the facility looks and smells clean, and check that groomers know CPR for cats and dogs in case they have to resuscitate an animal.

Watch the video: Flawless ears. Dog Grooming. Tips and Tricks

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