Summertime – Fun time – Bath time!
For most of us, once the warm weather sets in, it means BATH TIME for Fido! We get on our shorts, crank up the music, grab the hose, shampoo, and towel, and then haphazardly anything else we might need for this job. By this point the dog is either running to the furthest corner of the yard or hiding under a bed as he knows exactly what’s coming.
Bathing by nature is not a natural routine for a dog. Since they have become domesticated, we – the humans – want our pets as clean as we keep ourselves. I am a believer that too many baths will interfere with the dogs natural oils that keep their skin and coat healthy. At most, I use shampoos only once per month. If my pup gets dirty in between, a good brushing and a rinse is all they need to stay clean and healthy.
If your dog is not accustomed to a routine of regular grooming, it can be a very stressful chore for both you and your dog. Let me try to help make bathing easier. Keep grooming tools simple: Curry comb, long tooth comb, appropriate brush for either long or short hair, bath sponge, bath towel and cotton balls. Dog shampoos do not have to be an expensive “made for dog” shampoo. A nice, no-tears formula with a conditioner works well. It will also be less stripping to a dog’s natural oils. A leave-in hair conditioner is a perfect finish to the process. Keep it simple. A handy plastic tool caddy is suitable for keeping all supplies together and ready for use.
When I am ready to start the bathing process, I use a long lead rope to give both me and the dog room to feel relaxed. I attach the lead to a post that is well grounded – for me, a corner post on my deck is convenient. I always carry treats in my pocket (Dobbles™, of course!) and talk, talk, talk, to relieve any fear. Let the dog know each step as it is coming. To start, rub the dogs coat and skin with the curry comb to loosen all dirt that is near the skin’s surface. Then, remove some of the loosened dirt with the brush. Next, wet the dog with a very gentle spray nozzle. NEVER spray the face. Always start at the feet and work up as this will help relieve any fears your pup may have. Once well soaked, apply shampoo and rub firmly, but not aggressively. The most important step to bathing is rinsing out all soap thoroughly. For the face, a soft stroke with a damp sponge is all that is needed. Stand back a few times to let your dog shake.
Once all the soap is rinsed, towel-dry any excess water. Take the cotton swabs and wipe out any dirt in the ears. Spray the leave-in conditioner lightly on your dog’s body and tail, then gently comb through. That’s it!
For my high-strung personality pups, I finish with some lavender oil on the tips of my finger and massage it on the backs of their ears and neck. This really helps them to relax.
Once you are completely done, grab your iced tea, sit back and watch them roll in the dirt and grass.