Many people bathe their dogs at home, which can be a fun experience for both you and your pet. Professional groomers usually urge people to try this at home, at least once. It will either be a great bonding experience, or you will appreciate your groomer even more!
You need to choose an appropriate location. In the warmer months, the front lawn may seem like a good choice. It can be, as long as the pet isn’t rinsed with cold water from the hose. We wouldn’t enjoy an ice-cold shower, even in hot weather, and dogs don’t, either. It can also be dangerous if the pet is overheated to begin with, as the cold water prohibits the dog’s natural cooling system from lowering his body temperature. So the location that you choose needs to have access to warm, running water. Laundry rooms are a popular choice, with the utility tubs doubling as bathtubs for smaller dogs. If the room has a floor drain, it can also be a good bathing location for the bigger dogs to stand over.
It is wise to set out all of the tools that you will need for your pet’s bath. A good quality shampoo is very important, the key words being “good quality.” If you don’t have access to fine pet shampoo, salon-quality people shampoo works well, diluted to ten parts water to one part shampoo. Don’t buy the cheap pet shampoo; it is usually a watered-down version of a harsh mixture that is not properly ph-balanced for your pet’s skin and coat. For conditioners, all of these same rules apply.
It is important to mention at this point to never choose a flea and tick shampoo; external parasite treatments contain potentially deadly chemicals, and should never used at home, regardless of what the claims are on the bottle. If you suspect that you dog has fleas or other issues, contact your veterinarian. He can provide you with a large selection of simple and safe pesticide treatments that are much more effective than flea and tick shampoos.
Okay, back to the bathing task.
A big stack of old towels is a must. It will take three times the number of towels you think it will. A rubber mat is a good idea for the bottom of the tub, for stable footing. Then, the most important item: you must have a lubricating salve to put in your dog’s eyes to avoid any injury from the shampoo. This is a vital step! You can purchase a tube of eye ointment for a few dollars from your veterinarian. Just a pinpoint drop of this salve in each eye can save you the expense of a vet bill later on.
If you have a long-haired dog, beware! BEFORE you begin, brush your dog out completely! All of the mats and tangles need to be combed out before the dog gets wet. If not, they will shrink closer to the skin, making them much difficult to remove.
Now, you are prepared to embark on your bathing journey. Put the salve into both eyes, and apply shampoo liberally all over the dog. When rinsing, it is very important to eliminate all residues from the shampoos and conditioners, to avoid possible skin irritations. For best results, towel-dry the dog thoroughly and let him air-dry for half an hour in a warm place. You may then use a regular blow dryer to dry the dog’s coat, however the cool setting should be used so that the dog doesn’t overheat.
When the dog is dry, you may then brush out the coat with a gentle brush. Now, your dog’s bathing experience is complete! Good luck!