In the first part of this series,
Groom Your Dog and Save Money, we talked about the importance of brushing. Today we’re focusing on the bath and all that it entails. How often you bathe your dog is up to you and depends on your dog’s activity, coat, environment and of course, your schedule. I typically bathe Greta and Jimmy twice a month. Their long coats do better when they’re clean and make the brushing process a better experience for them and me.
When we first got Greta
she was 14 weeks old with a beautiful silky puppy coat. I made the decision then and there to allow her coat to be natural and do my best to keep it in the best condition possible. I had a lot to learn about grooming and became a YouTube sponge watching every video I could about grooming long-haired dogs. I learned a lot in a very short time and started putting it into practice. Fortunately for me, Greta was very forgiving and together she and I learned all about grooming.
Six months after
Greta came into our family I took a part-time job as the office manager in a grooming salon. This was a great place for me to learn more and everyone was so kind and helpful. The owner, Astrid, taught me how to properly bathe, blow-dry, trim the hair on the bottom of the feet, trim the sanitary area, and round the feet “at the table”. Again…I was a sponge and am so grateful for the opportunity I had to learn so much about grooming.
While working at the grooming salon, I had the added benefit of being able to use their equipment for bathing Greta! What a dream! Of course, they had a huge tub with a rack and a Hydro-surge bathing system, high-velocity dog dryers, the best shampoos and conditioners… it was easy peasy!
But that all changed when we moved back to Phoenix and I was on my own.
Once again I set out to purchase my own equipment and I will share with you what I have, how I use it, and how it works for me and my dogs.
Shampoo and conditioner
is a vital step in the grooming process and shouldn’t be skimped on. Please, whatever you do, don’t use shampoo made for people on your dog. Dogs have different body chemistry than humans, their skin and coats need products designed with them in mind. With so many brands and types out there, it was very difficult to know which was best. I tried many. I didn’t like many. Too greasy, too dry, too scenty, too expensive, the list goes on. Fast forward 4 years and I’ve finally found a shampoo and conditioner that I trust and that makes my dogs’ coats feel amazing.
Best Shot is widely used by professional groomers and I love the way it cleans and conditions Greta and Jimmy’s coats.
Bathing a dog
can be a backbreaking task and I have looked for ways to make it easier for a long time. I have an ordinary utility sink in my laundry room that is quite deep which means a lot of bending, therefore a lot of backaches.
Bathing my dogs is a frequent task
and I want it to be as simple as possible, so I was thrilled to find that I could create my own hydro-surge system like the pro’s use.
I found this recirculating pump after doing quite a bit of research. I bought this hose and nozzle from Hanvey because I believed it would be the best but in hindsight, I realize that it would have been much better to just cut a garden hose to the proper length and use a good nozzle and it certainly would have been less expensive (sometimes you gotta learn the hard way).
These pumps turn on when you plug them in and off when you unplug them, so I found this ON/OFF switch that is waterproof and makes it much easier to operate the system. It plugs into a GFAC outlet and the pump plugs into it. Dee mounted mine on the wall above the sink so that it doesn’t get any water on it during the bath.
This system is a game-changer,
it makes the bath so much easier and faster and it saves a ton on shampoo and conditioner. You can use this pump system anywhere as long as you can submerge the bottom half of it in the bathwater. A sink, bathtub, small pool in the backyard… the possibilities are endless.
My pump sits in the sink with the dog. I fill the sink so that the water comes up about 3-4 inches on the bottom of the pump and add the shampoo into the bathwater so that it will all recirculate through the pump. With this shampoo, I use about 4 TBLSP of shampoo for approximately 2-3 gallons of water. Don’t make your water as warm as you would for your bath; remember that dogs have a higher body temp and can overheat easily. You’ll learn what your dog likes because they’ll let you know if it’s too cold by whining. 🙁 No worries, it’s easy enough to add more warm water to it.
I know what you’re thinking. If the water recirculates through the pump and back onto the dog then how does it get clean? That’s the job of the shampoo. It contains surfactants that the dirt and grime cling to so that once they’re removed from the dog they don’t reattach.
Using this type of bathing system is much easier on the back… no bending over to scrub the dog. The nozzle does it for you and the shampoo does the job of cleaning the coat and skin while removing the grease and grime. For long-haired dogs it’s great because hand scrubbing can be very damaging to their coats.
After shampooing I unplug the sink and while it’s draining I thoroughly rinse my dogs with this hose attached to the faucet in my laundry sink.
It has 3 settings and is perfect for rinsing them thoroughly but I leave it on this faucet because it comes in quite handy for all the many things that I wash in my laundry sink, paintbrushes, clothes, shoes etc.
A little fabric softener
mixed with water in a spray bottle works magic on suds and is a great way to get rid of the suds from the bath quickly. I spray the suds but not the dog and then quickly rinse it all down the drain.
Once the sink is clear of suds I plug it and refill it with warm water, add a few pumps of conditioner and repeat the process of saturating the coat with the conditioner mixture once again making sure not to get water in the ears or eyes.
Finally, using clear water
and the hose attached to the faucet, rinse, rinse, rinse and repeat. It’s important to make certain all traces of conditioner are rinsed and removed to prevent any buildup on the coat.
Gently towel dry, wrap the dog in the towel and carry them to the table (unless you have a large dog, they can walk on their own). If your dog has a long coat it’s best to go straight to the table because romping and running around like crazy (as most dogs like to do after baths) can cause lots of tangles in a long coat.
Before you blow-dry
your dog, be sure to spritz with Best Shot Vitalizing Mist. This spray helps to detangle and leave the coat shiny and silky. It’s also very useful for short coats as well because it makes the coat shiny and conditions the skin.
One of the first things I purchased when Great was a baby was a pet force blow dryer designed for dogs and it has been a fabulous investment!!!
It’s important that you don’t use too much heat on a dog’s coat for a couple of reasons.
- It’s damaging to their coat, just as it is to our hair.
- Too much heat on your pooch can overheat them because they already have a warmer body temperature than we do.
This dryer has been a game-changer for me. It has two power settings, high and low ( I use both) it also has heat and no-heat. I always use no-heat and it’s amazing how warm that can get.
Blow-dry using the no heat setting and on high power for the body, from the neck down. For long-haired dogs be sure to hold the nozzle still and move slowly in straight lines. Moving it rapidly and in a circle will tangle a long coat. If your dog has short hair it’s still important to blow dry and make sure you get the dog completely dry, to the skin. This will make your dog fluffy and soft.
Never blow the dryer
directly into the dogs eye, mouth or ears. I hold the ear closed right at the base of it so that I can dry under and around it without blowing directly into it. Dogs have a very keen sense of hearing and many are very afraid of the dryer near their head. Take it slow, reassure them often, and be very patient.
If your dog has never been blow-dried,
just be patient…focus on just the body (work on the head the next time) and move slowly. The more often you do it, the sooner they will get used to it. If you’ve been taking your dog to a groomer then you can be sure they’re used to a blow dryer. That doesn’t mean they will enjoy it, but most likely they won’t be too terrified of it. Just be patient! They will still love you and they’re always more than willing to forgive.
I hope you have learned something from this blog post and will try to do your own bathing and blow-drying. Be patient with yourself and your dog and you will be a great bathing team in no time!
Please let me know how it goes for you and always feel free to ask questions in the comments, I’m more than happy to help.
Pop over to my feed on Instagram @somethingpaintedwhite where you’ll see plenty of Jimmy and Greta in action and I very often do stories of bath day!
Hope to see you there!!!
Happy Bathing my friends!!!