While we can’t always get into the groomers, It can be a lot of fun to give your dog a good scrub and watch all the muck wash away. We know it’s important to have our dogs groomed but it’s also important to do it properly. After all, if you’re going to do something, do it right! And/or give it a good old fashioned try!
Whether you prefer the DIY dog wash, the laundry sink or a bucket of warm water and a patch of grass, below are my 5 tips for getting it done properly and safely!
#1 – Use a Good Shampoo
What does that mean? It’s harder than it sounds due to the exceptional marketing of some brands. My tips? Read the bottle, choose chemical free with no artificial fragrances, if you know your dog has allergies make sure the shampoo contains none of it and also choose one that suits your dog’s hair & skin. A good quality shampoo will get out most stains so I’d stay away from any whitening shampoos as most will contain a form of bleach or colouring that’s not great for sensitive skins. If you’re not sure what to use feel free to ask me for some suggestions!
#2 – Use Warm Water
Not too hot, not too cold. In summer go for lukewarm and in winter you can turn it up a notch. Too hot and you’ll burn your poor pup and possibly cause them to fear the bath, too cold on a sensitive dog and you’ll shock them. A lot of double coated breeds like German Shepherds or Maremma Sheepdogs would prefer a cooler bath even when we would find it too cold. To be on the safe side with these woolly breeds, go for lukewarm.
#3 – Towel Dry
You may be thinking how nice it would be to get that fluffy salon finish at home, but using a normal human hairdryer is not the right way. They are often hotter and louder than pet made turbo driers and are not made to stay on for the long periods of time it can take to fully dry a long haired dog. If not used properly, you can also scare the crap out of your dog! Similarly with the turbo driers at the DIY dog wash, be careful of the heat and try to dry in the same direction the coat lays so you don’t create any knots.
It’s safest and still effective to grab a few towels and gently scrunch dry. Try to wash your dog on a day you know you can keep them warm while they dry, whether that’s in a pet friendly room of your house or from the sun/heat. Short coats can be ruffled up in a towel until 99% dry. They’ll probably enjoy a good scratch anyway!
#4 – Be Careful Around Their Head
Dog’s generally hate their ears and head getting wet. You’re also at risk of getting water in their ears and causing an ear infection. The easiest way to prevent this is to put a piece of cotton wool in each ear. This will also muffle sound which can help with timid dogs. If you think you can do it, I push their ears forward and cover their eyes as I move the spray head over their face. This means I am wiping the water out of their face right away and squeezing the excess water from their ears to prevent shaking or any discomfort. If you’re not sure how to do this I’d be happy to show you! Just ask!
#5 – Brush, Brush, Brush
Believe it or not, short haired breeds also require brushing. Brushing promotes healthy skin and coat and also limits shedding. No matter what you do, you CANNOT eliminate shedding. Every dog is different and will shed a different amount of hair. What you can do is control where a majority of it will fall. Choose a location you’re happy to potentially fill with hair. Select the right brush. And give them a really good brush before and after their bath but only while the coat is dry. Using the wrong tools on a wet coat could cause damage. Brushing before the bath will reduce the amount of work you’ll have to do in the bath and brushing after will give a nice finish.
Side note: Choosing the right brush.
For short coats, you can’t go past the trusty rubber curry. You’ll be amazed at the amount of hair this brush will remove and it also gives your pup a nice massage at the same time. Use it in circular motions gently pulling tight any skin rolls to avoid a “getting a massage with no oil” type of feeling.
Zoom Groom, $15.99 @ Pet House Superstore
I should add, if your dog has a lot of knots, washing them will cause the knots to tighten and can create matting and cause discomfort. If your dog is already matted, you could injure them by trying to brush it all out. At this point it’s best to shave your dog down to allow their skin to breath and for the coat to re-grow. Looking after your dogs coat will prevent the need for a shave down and will also allow your dog to cool efficiently and stay protected from the elements.
For Longer Coats, there are so many more options, many of which can get a little dangerous if not used correctly so we’ll go with the most effective and safest brush to keep it simple.
A trusty comb and slicker brush is all you need for effective undercoat removal on a regular basis. Combs are generally sized as fine, medium and wide referring to the gaps between the teeth. You can use a mixture of all three or just stick to the medium which will work fine (if you’ll pardon the pun) for most knots.
Slicker brushes come in different diameters and hardness. The size of the brush depends on the area your brushing and the size of your dog, again stick with a medium soft brush and you’ll get the job done. Because slicker brushes are a little more sharp pinned, you need to be careful not to brush too hard and allow the brush to do the work for you. To brush areas like the ears and tail, I always put my hand under where the brush will go so I can feel the amount of pressure i’m using.
Gripsoft are my favourites for these types of tools.
Small Soft Slicker, ~$15 from Vet Products Direct
Medium Comb, $11 from Vet Products Direct
And there you have it, it’s certainly not an exhaustive list but it’s enough to get you in the right direction. We all want to look after our pets as best as we can and if that means you have to get in the tub and give your dog a good wash then go for it!
Happy Washing 🙂