Category Archives: Grooming a Dog

How to Give a Dog a Bath, and Let You Both Live Through It

There is no question, dogs and baths don’t go together.  We don’t like them and they don’t like us.

Giving a dog a bath
Giving a dog a bath

And I hear humans like to give us baths even less.

However, I’ve been told that no matter how much we both hate it, it’s part of life I’m just going to have to learn to deal with it.

Over time, we’ve learned a few tricks that make giving a dog a bath a lot less painful… for everyone.

Use the Bathtub

Yes, you can give a dog a bath outside, but think about all of that room.  If the dog doesn’t like the water, shampoo, etc it’s much more difficult to control them when they aren’t in a confined space.

Keeping the dog in the bathroom (with the door closed) limits the amount of chasing you may have to do.  If you’re using a bathtub, you can even pull the shower curtain halfway closed, and put it on the INSIDE of the tub to make it even harder for the dog to weasel their way out.

You can also get a dog washing tub, but to us, these seem like more trouble than they’re worth.  Do you really have space in your home to store one of these when you’re not using it?   Do you really want to have to drag it out of storage and put it away every time you want to give the dog a bath?

Prepare, Prepare and Prepare Some More

One of the big keys to a successful dog bath is to really plan out the details. Don’t just think about it, you have to actually make a plan.

This includes having the proper supplies.  If you have to leave a wet dog in the tub because the shampoo is on the other side of the bathroom, bad things will happen.

Gather the following supplies and put then on, in or next to the bathtub.

  • Shampoo
  • Multiple towels
  • Something for your knees to make it more comfortable to kneel next to the tub, depending on how old you are J.   The boss is ancient and she has to put towels on the floor for her knees (and then she sometimes complains anyway!)
  • Prepare the water temperature – do you like baths that are too cold or too hot?  Dogs don’t either!
  • Hose attachment (we’ll talk about this more below)
  • Those dorky non-slip decals or mats.  Not having good footing can make us even more freaked out about the bath than we already are (of course, you should have these for your own safety too… assuming you use the shower for yourself)

Get a Shower Attachment

This is a must, must, must have when you’re trying to give a dog a bath. 

There are cool attachments shower attachments these days that make it easy to add a sprayer attachment to your showerhead.

Most of them have a simple piece that can be screwed in.  It goes between your showerhead and the pipe that comes out of the wall.   I know… don’t let it scare you if you’re not a plumber.  If you can use a wrench, you can install these.  The boss managed to do it and if she can do it… anyone can… except for dogs, you know… that whole “opposable thumb” thing causes us problems.

The big benefit of these is that you can get rid of that ridiculous cup that you used to have to fill up about 75 times for a decent bath.dog shower sprayer

Not only that, but it is about 6,362 times easier for the rinse part of the dog bath too, especially the underside.

Some of these even have a soap dispenser built into the sprayer.  This allows you to switch from suds to rinse with the simple click of a button, and more importantly… only one hand.

Brush the Dog

Although this isn’t required, it’s a good idea to give the dog a good brushing first before you give a dog a bath.  One reason is that it gets out the mats in the hair before it gets wet (when it will be much more difficult to get out).

Another reason to brush the dog before the bath is to reduce the hair that would otherwise get tangled up in your drain.

How to Give a Dog a Bath

1 – Get the Dog in the Bathtub

One word… treats.  They work for just about everything, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a dog.

Once you get the dog in the bathtub, ALWAYS keep one hand on their collar.  If you don’t know why this is important, you’ve never given a dog a bath before, have you?

This is why it’s so important to have everything within arms reach BEFORE you start.

2 – Do the First Rinse 

You should have already checked the water temperature, so now all you should have to do is pull the knob to turn the shower part on – but make sure it’s set up to go through the shower attachment.  If the dog gets hit with water from the showerhead out of the blue… bad things will happen.

Use your handy-dandy spray nozzle to get the dog wet, but avoid the dog’s head (for now).

3 – Add the Shampoo

If you’re using a sprayer that includes a soap dispenser, flip the switch so the suds come out.  If you have to do it the old fashioned way, squeeze the shampoo onto the dog’s back.

Remember to keep one hand on the dog collar while you’re doing this.

4 – Do the Shampoo Thing 

Now you should use your one free hand to lather up the dog hair.  Sometimes if you turn this into a mini-massage, it can help the dog relax.

5 – Do the Rinse

Use your fancy shower sprayer to rinse the suds off the body.  This is really where the sprayer comes in handy.  It’s especially easy to rinse the belly area with a sprayer vs the cup.

Although, something to remember… don’t reach around the dog and point the sprayer toward yourself, even if you’re “positive” that it will be pointed up into the dog’s belly.  If you miscalculate by just an inch, you’ll say a lot of really bad words and I’ll get even more freaked out.

6 – Pre-dry the Body

When you’ve washed and rinsed the dog’s body, you should throw a towel over their back as soon as possible.  Don’t take the time to completely dry the dog at this point, because you still have to wash the face.

At any point between now and the end of the bath, “the shake thing” could occur.  As I dog, I think the shake thing is awesome, but I get the impression that people don’t think it’s nearly as cool.

If the dog shakes when they are still sopping wet, there is a lot of water that will end up on the walls, floor and YOU.  I suspect this is the part that people hate.

However, if you put a towel over the dog’s back and do a quick dry (again, with one hand) as soon as the rinse is done, you can soak up a lot of that excess water before it ends up in a bad place.

7 – Do the Face 

In talking to my dog friends, they all agree about one thing.  The worst part of the whole bath thing is when you wash our faces.  We really don’t like it so you should do it last.

The face is more sensitive than the rest of the body, so you should be careful about the water pressure before you hit the face.

8 – Dry

When the bath is over, the dog will be really excited.  At this point, you should be focused on getting us as dry as possible, before we completely freak out and shake like there is no tomorrow.

One More Thing

It’s been proven over and over and over again… yelling, screaming and saying bad words won’t work, but treats and praise do work.

Have you ever seen those trained dogs that show up on talk shows all the time?

Have you ever seen how the dog gets a treat EVERY SINGLE TIME they do what they’re supposed to?

The more you give the dog positive praise and treats, the better behaved they will be… even at bath time.

If your dog is a real scardy-cat (pun intended), you might try having a second person help you give the dog a bath.  Their job should be to have a bunch of tiny treats and keep the dog’s attention on when they get the next treat, instead of the evil bath.

Enjoy the After Effects

When everything is done and you forced me to sit quietly in the bathtub while I had to endure all that water and sudsy stuff, you can’t get mad at me when I run around like a chicken with it’s head cut off.

Instead of getting annoyed and trying to control the dog after a bath, sit back and enjoy the show!

Shedding? Who Sheds?

We all know puppies are a pain (and that everyone forgets that fact until they come home with a new one!)  We all know training them to not pee in the house is a hassle.  I hate to admit this since I’m a dog but living with us for the first couple of years while we learn the rules can be a pain.  Fortunately, these kinds of problems eventually go away.

There is one problem related to dogs that just doesn’t go away.  It doesn’t go away with training and it doesn’t go away as we get older.  This problem is shedding.  It’s one of the biggest things people complain about.

Of course, not all dogs shed… only the good ones do  🙂  (like me)!  If you’re lucky enough to have a dog like me who sheds, we’ll help you figure out how to handle it.

Like everything else, we’ve tried just about everything on the market to see if it would work.  Again… like everything else, some of it worked and some of it didn’t.

The Options and Tools

Brushes/Rakes – For The Dog

This is one of the best ways to prevent a shedding problem.  If you capture the hair from our coats before it has a chance to fly off it won’t ever get to your couch, carpet, pants, etc.

The type of brush you use will depend a little on the breed of dog you have.  For us, we like the rake type best because of how it gets into the undercoat.

Tape Rollers

These are basically similar to a paint roller except they have masking tape in the place of the roller head.  These are actually very effective for getting dog hair off of the furniture and clothes, etc.  Their only problem is that they can get expensive if you use them too frequently.

Drugs

We haven’t actually tried this yet, but they actually have drugs that will stop the dog from shedding.

Sponges

These can be somewhat effective, but there is a learning curve.  You have to figure out the right angle and amount of pressure.  We found that short, quick strokes work the best.

Dryer Sheets?

Have heard about using dryer sheets before running the vacuum.  We haven’t tried this, but the theory is that the dryer sheet reduces some of the static electricity that holds the dog hair to the fabric.  By using the dryer sheet first, it allows the dog hair to be removed more easily.

Squeege/plastic bristly brush

Vacuum Attachments

These are some of the more recent products available to handle dog shedding.  Many vacuums have attachments to help pick up dog hair.  There are also now products available to help brush your dog.

The brush attaches directly to your vacuum.  When you brush your dog, the dog hair goes directly into the vacuum.  This greatly reduces the amount of hair that gets loose as/after you brush the dogs.  This also picks up more loose dog hair directly from the dog because of the suction.

Dog Teeth Brushing – It Doesn’t Have To Be That Bad

We’re going to save you a little effort and a whole bunch of money by letting you know the following stuff:

  • Why dog teeth brushing is important
  • What did NOT work
  • What we got that did actually work
  • How to do it

My boss tried to get out of this, she really did.  She tried every possible way to get out of it.   She hates brushing my teeth… and I hate having them brushed.

The funny thing is that the evil new puppy she brought home doesn’t seem to mind.  (I assure you though, this is the ONLY way that she’s better than me!)  I suspect it’s because the new puppy started off right away getting her teeth brush and the boss really didn’t do it to me until I was older.  You know… the old “can’t teach an old dog new tricks” saying.  It’s true because old dogs don’t want to have to get used to new things.

Why Dog Teeth Brushing Is Important
People teeth are just like dog teeth.  Brushing them does the same thing for us that it does for you.

  • Health – if you don’t brush your dog’s teeth, they’ll get covered with bacteria that can cause all kinds of problems.  Does this sound healthy?
  • It keeps them from going “bad”.  I actually had a tooth that rotted so badly that it had to be pulled.  I sure felt better after, but the boss kept asking me if I was worth the cost.   (I’m pretty sure she was joking though because she sometimes thinks she’s funny.  I think she’s wrong.)
  • Everyone complains when a dog has bad breath… doesn’t it make sense that if brush your dog’s teeth it will help?
  • The older the dogs gets, the bigger of an issue it is if their teeth are bad.  At some point they will likely need their teeth cleaned by the vet if you never brush them.  This can be expensive.

What We Tried… And Failed

  • We still get treats that say they can replace dog teeth brushing, but when we asked the vet if it was true, she laughed… a lot and said we still had to brush them.
  • Rubber bone with bristles – This is a big blue rubber bone that has toothbrush like bristles on one end.  In theory, it’s like getting my teeth brushed when I chew on it, but… it only took the evil puppy about 5 minutes to tear it apart and start to eat it.  She does that a lot.
  • Three sided dog toothbrush – This didn’t really work.  You have to put too much pressure on the brush (and the dog teeth) to get the brush around the tooth on all three sides.
  • Electric brush – Yes, the boss actually did spend money on this.  No, it doesn’t work.
Would you use this to brush dog teeth?

 

Here Is What Actually Did Work
The boss did eventually accept the fact that there wasn’t a shortcut and she would have to jump into the exciting world of dog teeth brushing.  She broke down and got a regular, plain, normal dog toothbrush and surprise… it worked.

Here are a few examples of the basic dog toothbrushes:

  • Long handled toothbrush
  • Finger toothbrush
  • Finger toothbrush glove

Long Handled Toothbrush
This works pretty well.  The only thing that you have to watch out for is the long handle.  It’s too easy to push the toothbrush too far… which results in jabbing me in the cheek or the back of the throat.

Finger Toothbrush
We like this one too.  It gives you more control (and I don’t get jabbed by the handle).  One thing you have to be careful of is letting it slip off your finger.

Finger Toothbrush Glove
This is actually our favorite dog toothbrush.  It gives the boss more control and she can more easily tell what she’s actually brushing.

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You have a dog.  You are responsible for that dog.   That means you are responsible for the dog teeth… brushing them is part of the package that you have to deal with.  There is no way around it.   We’ve shown you the stuff that works and the stuff that doesn’t work.  Next it’s time to talk about the actual dog teeth brushing.

Dog Toenail – If You Cut It (Too Short) They Will Bleed

Whoever designed a dog toenail did a lousy job.   I don’t hear people complain too much about cutting theirs too short, but if you cut a dog toenail to short, it bleeds… a lot… and it doesn’t stop.

If you’re lucky, the dog will have the color of nail that lets you see where the “quick” starts.  If you’re not so lucky, you have to guess.   In that case the best you can do is to only take off a little at a time and hope for the best.

There are a lot of dog toenail clippers, and here is an example.dog toenail clippers

One time when we were clipping my nails with regular dog toenail clippers (like above), I got impatient… and restless.   That made the boss crabby and she ended up rushing through it and clipping my toenail too short.

Did I mention that if you cut a dog toenail too short bad things happen?

The results… you guessed it… blood… on tan carpet… in the living room… and the dining room… and the kitchen… and the couch… and the bedroom.

Unfortunately, that’s not an exaggeration.   They sell stuff that will stop the toenail from bleeding, but you have to get the toenail into the powder for it to work… and I’m not likely to make that easy for you after you just hurt me by clipping my toenail too short.

The next time it got cut too short had a much better result.   We were following the grooming time procedures so I was busy chewing the rawhide when it got cut.

The nail was clipped too short and the boss saw blood.   Fortunately, I was distracted and she was able to put pressure on it so that it stopped bleeding before I really knew anything was wrong.

The Answer – Pedi-Paws

There are a lot of options to use to clip a dog’s toenail, but Pedi-Paws is our favorite.   It has an added bonus of being better than normal clippers on toenails that are too dark to see the quick (i.e. blood).   The sandpaper on the grinder only takes off a little at a time so it prevents “big” disasters.

I know… I was skeptical too.   Yes, this is the thing you’ve seen on tv that looks great but realistically seems like it would be impossible to train your dog to use.

Sure, seeing the ads on tv made this look like a great answer, but come on… you had to be crazy to think that your dog would actually sit still for this, right?

Despite our apprehension, we bought one anyway.   (Did I mention that the boss is really lazy and would buy anything if it looked like it would save me time/trouble?)

We were shocked to find out that it actually works.    You have to proceed very, very slowly.   The vibration of the grinder against the dog toenail is pretty scary at first.

Do it every day when you start.  (maybe even a couple times per day)   It will only take 60 seconds while you are introducing it to the dog.

Proceed very, very, very slowly.

Make each session short enough so the dog can be successful.   For the first few days, all we did was hold my paw, touch one toenail with the grinder.  Then we were done and I got a treat.   Eventually the boss would hold each toenail for a few seconds longer.

When I got comfortable with the one toe, then we did all toenails on one paw then eventually lengthened the time the grinder touched the toenail.

Did I mention you have to go really, really go slow with this.   That grinder thing is scary, but with a little bit of patience, well… a lot of patience, this works great.

Other Things To Know

Grooming is a great way to get kids involved.   When our 77 year old niece comes over (wait… I guess you’re used to human years… that makes her 11) she holds us to make it easier for the boss.

You can find 74 billion products for groom a dog here.