Grooming your dog is important for its health, but that doesn’t mean going to the groomer is painless–for you or your dog. For many dogs, trips to a groomer can be stressful. Whether it’s the unfamiliar environment, or being handled by a stranger, some dogs have real “groomer anxiety”. Not to mention, a trip to the groomer can get expensive depending on the type of dog you have. In 2014, users of the popular service review site Angie’s List reported spending an average of $53 on a trip to the groomer. If you’re looking for a way to extend the time between trips to the groomer, look no further. Here are some home grooming tips that can supplement a regular pet hygiene schedule.

Bathing is one of the most important parts of dog hygiene, and has many benefits beyond just making your dog smell a little better. Bathing can help keep your dog’s coat healthy and reduce shedding as well. The ASPCA recommends bathing once every 3 months at the most, but you can bathe your dog more frequently if needed. Make sure you always use dog shampoo–not human shampoo when bathing your dog. Also, be sure to towel dry your dog, since the heat from a hair dryer can too much for your dog to handle. Always brush before bathing your dog to prevent tangles.

One big reason pet owners take their dogs to the groomer is for a haircut–but you can even do this at home if necessary, and it might come in handy for maintenance if your dog is of a long-haired breed. Wahl has a great guide for home doggie haircuts, but the basics are pretty simple. It’s important to move very slowly and try to keep your dog as calm and comfortable as possible, especially when using a scissors on hair around the ears and eyes. Clippers can also be used on the body, especially for shorter-haired breeds. In general, keep an eye out for hair that sticks out from the coat or hair that is getting tangled or dirty on your dog’s underbelly.

Finally, nail trimming is one of the most stressful aspects of grooming for both dog and human–but sometimes it absolutely needs to be done. Patience and treats are the best tools beside the clipper when trimming nails. Always pay attention to your dog’s body language to make sure they are comfortable. The main concern with clipping nails is cutting into the “quick,” which is painful for your dog and can cause bleeding. Pay attention to the thickness and hardness of the nail as you are clipping–the nail actually gets softer as you approach the quick. A great way to prevent nails from becoming overgrown in the first place is to take your dog for regular walks–surfaces like streets and sidewalks can keep nails “filed” down and help extend the time between clippings.

Whether it’s for a long overdue haircut and nail trim, or just to look their best for some family photos, sometimes a trip to the groomer is unavoidable. It’s a nice bonus if your dog really doesn’t mind going to the groomer at all. It’s up to every dog owner to make sure they pay attention to key aspects of their dog’s hygiene such as hair and nails, and to maintain a regular grooming schedule at home.