Washing Woes

Give Fido a bath and avoid disaster

The situation is a fairly common one in winter and spring: you’re out for a walk with your dog in a wooded area, enjoying the changing season and cool breeze. Fido trots alongside you, but stops to sniff at something next to the path. He then drops and rolls in whatever caught his attention. Unfortunately, it’s a pile of wild animal droppings. If you’re like most pet owners, an exasperated groan now escapes your lips.

Bathing dogs is rarely an easy task and usually ends with a small flood in the bathroom. Yet there are ways to make your pooch’s bath time less of a nightmare.

>> Prepare your space: Whether you choose to turn your bathroom into a grooming station, use a utility sink in the laundry room, or a washtub in the yard, make sure to have all you need at your side. Some useful items are a brush or comb, towels, doggie shampoo, a large cup or pitcher for rinsing, rubber gloves (if you’re wary of scratches), and treats or a toy for your dog to entertain himself. Remember that even dogs are sensitive to harsh chemicals; don’t use any shampoo with ingredients you wouldn’t use on yourself.

>> Draw the water: Fill the tub with lukewarm, room temperature water. Getting into a tub that’s too hot or cold will likely result in a quick jump out. Also note that your dog might have trouble standing in the tub due to its slippery surface. Place a rubber mat on the tub’s floor to avoid any discomfort.

>> Brush ‘em: Removing any loose or matted hair will speed up the bathing process (and keep your drain from clogging).

>> Start with the head: Ever notice how dogs hold their head above water when they swim? Most dogs loathe getting their head (and ears) wet. Gently washing your pup’s head gets the worst out of the way. If he starts to panic, speak in a calm, reassuring voice—this usually helps!

>> Unexpected showers: It’s instinct for dogs to shake when they’re wet. To avoid getting a bath yourself, place your hand between your dog’s shoulder blades.

>> Praise: Dogs are well aware of encouraging words and tend to reflect the kindness. A “good boy!” tends to result with your dog acting like one.

>> Rinse cycle: It’s important to rinse thoroughly—any leftover shampoo can irritate your dog’s skin. This is where a detachable showerhead, large cup, or sizeable pitcher comes in handy.

>> Dry: Once again, to avoid a small scale flood, wrap your pooch in towels at first to soak up excess water, then use more dry towels to fluff and dry. If he obliges, use a hair dryer. Many dogs are frightened by the noise, so be careful!