How to Groom a Dog Without a Grooming Table

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Medium
30 - 45 Minutes
1 Month

Introduction

Grooming tables are great--not only is your dog elevated, so you don't have to bend over, but you can walk around all sides of the table or rotate it to reach your dog easily for brushing, trimming and clipping. Most grooming tables also include an overhead arm with a leash and neck loop that you can use to restrain your dog and keep him in place. Some tables even have a restraint suspended from overhead that loops under your dog's belly, in front of his rear legs, to keep him standing so you can easily reach his underside, backside and back legs.  

As great as they are, it's not practical for most of us to have a grooming table at home. Working on your dog without one makes grooming more challenging, but there are a few ways to adapt to that will allow you to reach your dog and keep him in place for grooming. A little creativity goes a long way when working without a grooming table!

Dog's Perspective

A grooming table usually has good traction, is stable, and has a restraint that makes your dog feel secure and prevents him from trying to jump off the table. Makeshift home solutions that do not feel secure to your dog can be frightening. Make sure whatever method you use, your dog has good footing and is not likely to jump off an elevated surface and injure himself. 

When using a raised surface, make sure it is adequate to support your dog's weight. Most household furniture is only suitable for a small to medium dog. For their safety, large dogs should be groomed from the floor if a grooming table is not available, or on a very sturdy table, like a wood picnic table.

The Elevated Surface Method

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Step
1
Obtain a folding table
Use a folding resin or plastic table, common in many households or available at most hardware stores. Set up the table and ensure safety locks are in place so the table is not liable to collapse. Make sure that the table is adequate for your dog's weight. Usually, small to medium sized dogs can be accommodated by a folding plastic table.
Step
2
Affix a mat
Put a rubber bath mat on the table and suction it to the surface to provide firm footing for your dog, or duct tape a mat to the table to ensure it does not slip off the table while you are working.
Step
3
Have an assistant restrain
Have a collar and leash on your dog. Position an assistant in front of your dog holding the leash to secure your pet and prevent him from trying to jump off the table.
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4
Groom on portable table
Brush and clip your dog on the resin table, working from all sides and reassuring your dog. Get your dog used to the table for short periods of time before starting grooming if he seems nervous or anxious.
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5
Alternate surfaces
Alternate tables that can be used if a folding resin table is not available include: a baby changing table, a kitchen table, a picnic table or a kitchen counter. Large tables and counters do not allow you to access all sides of your dog easily so you will have to move your dog to reach all sides if this is your only option. However, your dog will be elevated, allowing you to stand and work with him.
Recommend grooming method?

The Floor Grooming Method

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Step
1
Place a mat
Lay out a bath mart, yoga mat, or rubber mat on the floor to provide good footing for your dog. You may choose to do this in a bathroom with a closed door to prevent your dog from escaping.
Step
2
Have supplies nearby
Have all grooming tools and products handy and within easy reach.
Step
3
Get down to floor level
Sit on the floor or find a very low stool to sit on while you groom your dog.
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4
Keep dog in place
Have an assistant hold your dog on a leash and put a small stool under your dog's belly between his legs to keep him standing. Commercial pet grooming stands are also available from pet supply stores that will keep you dog in place and in the standing position while grooming. You can also place a pillow under your dog to encourage him to stand while you work with him.
Step
5
Work from the floor
Brush, trim and clip your dog on the floor. Manipulate him or change your position so you can reach your dog from all sides. Clean up after grooming by sweeping or vacuuming up hair and washing the floor or mats. Remember to give your dog a treat as a reward for adapting to the makeshift grooming location.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • If you are elevating your dog, make sure he can not jump off the surface and injure himself.  Arrange restraints or engage an assistant to help.
  • Make sure makeshift grooming locations have good footing with bath mats or rubber mats.  Fasten mats to elevated surfaces so they do not slip off.
  • Make sure elevated surfaces area adequate for your dog's weight and that table legs are locked in place.
  • Be cautious when bending or reaching for your dog while grooming, not to strain your back or joints. Move your dog or adjust so that you can reach the area you want to groom without putting undue strain on yourself or your dog.

Conclusion

While using a grooming table is ideal to restrain your dog and give him a secure surface where you can easily reach and work with grooming tools, this is not always feasible. Several household surfaces can be adapted and used to elevate your dog and provide secure footing--just be sure to have someone helping to ensure your dog does not take a flying leap while you are working. Alternately, you can always work from the floor by laying out the tools you need, containing your dog in a small area like a bathroom, and encouraging him to remain standing with an object between his legs, under his belly.

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

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