By Terry Jester
Many years ago, I was a professional all-breed dog groomer. I clipped schnauzers, trimmed springers and gave poodles their fancy haircuts.
I also – many times a day – bathed dogs.
As a result, I developed a strategy to save time, my back, and to make it as easy on the dogs as possible. It is a fact that the more unpleasant experiences a dog has in a bathtub, the harder it will be to give him a bath the next time he needs one.
If your dog is small enough to fit in the sink, you have it made. If she’s calm enough to go in the bathtub, that’s another plus.
However, if you are one of the many who bathes the family dog outside on the lawn with a garden hose, be aware, most dogs hate being bathed in cold water.
Now, if they are at the lake or beach, and going into that frigid water is their idea, that’s one thing. But getting doused with a cold garden hose on a day when they’d rather be sleeping in the sun or playing fetch with the kids is quite another thing. So, rule number one – try to use warm water.
I have six dogs. Four of them are not sink or bathtub material. They’re too big for the sink and my back won’t let me lean over the tub like I could in my younger days.
When they need a bath I stretch the hose out in the sun with the water in the hose but shut off at the nozzle. This allows the sun to heat the water in the hose. The longer the hose, the more warm water you have. I also fill a couple of buckets with warm water from the bathtub to use as a final rinse because by the time I’m done, I’ve just about used up all my warm water from the hose.
When I bathe my dogs I always tie them to something sturdy so that they can’t decide on their own when the bath is over. This also allows me to use both hands to bathe them, which makes everything go much faster. I use dog shampoo on the body and puppy shampoo on the face. I shampoo, rinse, and shampoo again. Then — and this is one of the most important parts of giving your dog a bath – I rinse thoroughly.
A good rule of thumb is to rinse your dog for at least as long as you shampooed him. Not doing so can leave soap in his coat. This soap, when dried, can lead to itching, irritation, and in long-haired breeds, matting. It is VERY important to get all of the shampoo out of his coat.
When drying, I use several towels and with my long haired dog, a hair dryer set on medium.
By using warm water, rinsing thoroughly, and drying him so he doesn’t get cold, you’ll have a clean dog now and a more willing dog later when bath time looms again.
Terry Jester is a nationally recognized expert on companion animal behavior. She is regarded by The Humane Society of the United States as being, “Humane and effective in dealing with problem pets and their owners.” For more information about Terry, visit her website.