Call me crazy, but I prefer to groom my dog at home instead of bringing him to the dog groomer. The main reasons I choose to bathe my dog at home are:
Less stress on my dog who equates car trips with a vet visit
Less stress on my wallet as grooming costs can add up
Quality time spent with my dog
There are other benefits to bathing your dog at home. You chose the time; you choose the shampoo and the have the peace of mind that exceptional care was taken not to get water in the ears or soap in the eyes.
On the other side, bathing a dog a home can be a challenge. Over the years of bathing large dogs, I have discovered some tips to ease the challenges of bathing a dog at home.
How Often Should You Bathe Your Dog?
When I asked the veterinarian how often I should bath my Labrador, he said every 3 months was plenty. Seemed a bit on the light side so I did some additional research. I found that dog bathing frequency depends - depends on the breed, the environment, where the dog has been, and any existing skin conditions.
According to Your Dog Advisor, your dog’s coat will determine how often you should bathe your dog:
Oily coat - If you have a dog with an oily coat you may have to bathe as often as once a week. Breeds with oily coats are Newfoundlands, Alaskan Malamutes, Basset Hounds.
Water-repellent coat – Dogs that have water-repellent coats should be bathed less often as they have natural oils in their coats that actually keep dirt away from the skin. Breeds with water-repellent coats are Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers.
Short-hair, smooth coat – Breeds such as Beagles or Boston Terriers do not need frequent bathing.
Double coated – Australian Shepherds and Alaskan Huskies have double coats (lots of shedding!) and do better with less frequent bathing. These breeds really need to be brushed daily. This will eliminate those awful mattes, remove dirt and debris as well as distribute natural oils through their coat.
Tips for Bathing Your Dog at Home
Based on my own experience and a bit of research, here are some tips to help you have a better dog washing experience.
Step 1 - Get Your Tools Ready (and keep within reach before your dog gets in the bath)
Rubber bathmat – in sink or bathtub. Stops slipping and stress.
Shampoo – use dog shampoo. Conditioner is optional.
Sprayer hose attachment. Longer hose makes life easier
Washcloth (2) or sponge (2) - Need a clean one for the face area
Small bucket to dilute the shampoo - saves you in the rinse cycleWide tooth brush (long thick coats) and regular dog brush - gets out extra hair or knots
Assorted size towels - I like a small one for head and a large for body
Hair dryer — A long cord is helpful and use a low heat setting
Drain hair catcher - I think this is critical as I am always amazed at the hair it catches
Dog Treats or Toy (optional) - Rewards the good behavior
Step 2 - Dog Bath Process Tips
Brush and comb hair to loosen knots and loosen dirt. If your dog has a lot of mattes, you may be able to remove them before the bath. Mattes retain water, pull skin and can be irritating. If really bad, go to a professional dog groomer.
Place the rubber mat in the tub or sink.
Lay a towel down in front of the tub and roll one up to kneel on.
Run the water ahead of time to get it to a lukewarm temperature.
Invite your dog into the bathroom with a treat. My lab will jut step in the tub whereas my Aussie Shepard has to be bribed.
Talk softly and calmly to your dog through the entire bath. A treat or two does not hurt either.
Wet the dog, starting at the back and working up toward the head. Do not wet the head as you will wash the head area last with a washcloth or sponge.
Using your sponge or washcloth, dip into the diluted shampoo. Diluting helps you avoid using too much shampoo. Too much shampoo makes it hard to get a good rinse as you need to get all the soap out to avoid skin dryness.
Start the washing on the back of the dog and then the chest. Work back towards the tail. Wash the tail and private areas last. Put that washcloth/sponge aside.
Rinse your dog thoroughly – until no soap in the water. Lastly, with a clean washcloth, wash the dog’s head – tilt the head back as you do not want to get soap in the eyes or water in the ears.
As soon as I turn off the water, my dogs wants to jump out of the tub. I firmly give the stay command and wrap a large towel around him, as if it is a robe. Then I quickly grab a small towel and dry his head and ears. If my boy is not ready to jump, I take another small towel and dry his legs and tail.
Once out, I rub my lab a few more times with the large towel. Now, the Aussie should be squeezed dry - more than rubbed as vigorous rubbing can cause tangling.
All done? Time for a big hug! And, now that I have a clean dog, I want to make sure he lies on a clean dog bed. I make sure to put on a clean sheet on the dog bed - a fresh PawSheet. Since they are so easy to remove and replace, I can do this immediately after the bath.
If you have any tips or suggestions, please share.