I have a raised tub in which to bathe and rinse the dogs that I groom. It saves strain on my back and there are anchored eye-hooks on the wall at both ends of the tub to securely attach the dog in place with grooming loops. If a large dog is extra-antsy in the tub I will attach it with grooming loops at both ends. If even worse a large dog is too much for even that…I get in a helper so no one is injured…canine or human. These situations are rare and usually one loop at the neck of the dog keeps it safe and secure in the tub. My grooming tub also has a heavy rubber mat on the bottom to give the dog a more stable feel underfoot. For large dogs I have 3 methods for tub entry. I bring the dog by leash to the side of the tub and lift its front legs onto the tub. If they are inclined to stay in this half up position I simply lift the rear end up and into place. If dog is old or not cooperative with that first technique; I have a large leather chair beside the tub into which I invite the dog…from there it is an easy step into the tub. If the first 2 methods fail…I call in my helper and we lift the dog straight up and into the tub from the floor. Again…no injuries to any one and mission accomplished.
I always have my shampoos premixed and along with towels they are within hand reach. I never move away from the tub once the dog is in it nor do I ignore what it is up to. I keep my eyes on the dog and at least one hand on it at all times. That way I can see any sudden moves and even sense by feel what might go on. I use a spray hose attached to the taps and get the water to the comfortable “just warm to the wrist” temperature before I put the dog in the tub.
With the dog secured by grooming loops and the water tested once again on my hand and wrist I begin to pre-wet the dog. I begin on the back and work down and along the sides getting each leg wet as I come to it. I make sure that the dog’s tummy and groin are also thoroughly wet. Next I move to the neck and chest area and finally the head and face.
I find it to be effective to keep one hand on the dog’s nose when running water over its head. I am able to hold the dog’s head pointed downwards, keep water out of its nostrils and there is less chance of water getting into the dog’s ears. This even gives the dog the opportunity to close its eyes. I never spray water directly into a dogs but rather let the water run down from the top of the head. Once the dog is thoroughly wet I apply the shampoo in the same order working down the back, along the sides, shampooing each leg as I come to it, tummy and groin and finally neck and chest area. Next I apply shampoo to the ears and lower jaw. I have a separate shampoo for the top of the head, sides of face and muzzle which is a tearless formula that does not sting the eyes if it gets in them. I make sure that I work the shampoo into all the hair thoroughly for the cleanest result. I make an extra effort to lift each one of the dog’s paws numerous times to work shampoo in there too. I do this as an important exercise to get it used to shifting its weight and allowing me to handle its feet.
I rinse the dog beginning with the head, down the back next, then the sides, the underside of the neck and the chest, followed by the tummy and groin and finally down each of the legs. Remembering gravity will pull dirt and shampoo suds downward so starting to rinse lower first is pointless. The rinsing process is repeated several times until the water that is running off of the dog is clean and free of suds. I believe that rinsing is the most important part of the bathing process! Once again, I make a point of lifting and handling each of the dog’s paws during the rinse not only to rinse out the shampoo but also to get it used to me.
I have a professional air velocity dryer for drying the dogs that I groom. It is the force of the air that blows the moisture out of the
coat that dries dog…there is no heat at all which makes it a very safe dryer to use. Standard hair dryers that we use on ourselves get too hot on the dog’s skin extremely fast making them the wrong choice to ever use on a dog…the key for a dog’s safety is “no heat”. I wrap the dog in a towel to sop up the excess water which helps to cut down on drying time somewhat. For dogs that do not cope well with the noise and feel of the velocity dryer I use an extra towel wrapping session and gently fluff them with a comb in front of a fan to get them dry. I also have a room air dehumidifier which I turn on during the drying process on days that it is too hot or too cold to have the windows open. It draws the moisture out of the air and is set to automatically shut off at 47 % humidity. I begin the drying process at the dog’s hip and try to keep my free hand on the dog as I proceed systematically down the rump and hind leg. I always have one hand on the dog during every grooming procedure. I can feel if tension is mounting in the dog’s muscles, get pre-warned of sudden movements…fear, panic, anger even. If the dog is taking the procedure well I then move to the back at the shoulder and work down and back. Remembering that gravity will pull water downward, it is pointless to dry lower first. However I stay away from the neck both back and front until later when the dog is settled for sure. I find that some do not settle enough to dry near the head. During the drying process I pay careful and close attention to the dog’s skin as the dryer separates the hair. I find it is an excellent time to make note of moles, warts, skin irritations, extra odd dew claws and other anomalies. I move the dryer nozzle in even back and forth lines as I proceed to prevent tangles from forming and to ensure that I don’t miss any spots. And guess what….. I make a point of lifting and handling each of the dog’s paws to get the pads dry and to get the dog used to having its feet handled. I choose to dry the dog as thoroughly as possible. I find that the coat will release undercoat wonderfully well when dried thoroughly which really cuts down on the arm wrenching job of combing out undercoat. Damp undercoat simply will not budge. All of the other grooming processes that follow a bath are quicker and easier for me to accomplish if the coat is thoroughly dried.
Never, ever, ever, Never, I repeat, do I ever use a shampoo that is formulated for human use on a dogs coat!!! The PH balance is way off for a dog and to use it is just asking for skin troubles. Even baby shampoo….Never, ever!
There are many different shampoos to choose from. For economical and quality reasons, I choose to purchase shampoos and other bathing products that are formulated for “professional” use. Even in that genre there are many to choose from. My choice is biodegradable, containing aloe and most importantly very light in scent. I have been able to find these combinations in both a Hypo-allergenic mild shampoo that is suitable for sensitive skin and a Basic shampoo for average skin. I have been tempted to try the Oatmeal in an unscented variety for itchy skinned dogs but have not had to go to that measure. I think my obsession with “super-rinsing” is the key to keeping the dogs that I groom in healthy skin. There is a shampoo that I use which is “tearless” for use on the
face…it is good for that but quite drying to sensitive dogs so I use it sparingly and just on the top of the head and eye area.
Regardless of the type of shampoo I use, I dilute it with water in a plastic dispensing bottle according to the manufacturer specifications. This makes it much easier to get it evenly onto the dog’s coat. The same can be done with the pet store variety of shampoo or the medicated veterinarian recommended type…I have done it successfully.
What is Super-Rinsing…well at that point that I think I have rinsed well…I rinse for 5 more minutes. I am convinced that shampoo
residue left on a dog’s skin and hair is the cause of many woes. The same goes for conditioners…I always super-duper-rinse if I use a conditioner on a dog’s coat. In my experience using a good quality shampoo with aloe is quite adequate to condition the average dog coat as it cleanses. In my assortment of grooming products I have only one type of conditioner for use on slightly matted and
tangled coats to help loosen up the mess.
Doggie colognes are, as far as I am concerned, an individual client’s choice and therefore I never use the stuff unless asked to do so. I have one fruity scent on hand but more often than not my clients have specified “no perfumes please”.
What I have discovered to be a valuable product to have on hand is “Odor Terminator”. It is excellent for getting rid of that funky “look what I rolled in” stink that lingers usually at the shoulder and neck of some dogs…even after the bath. Once the dog is bathed and dried I give it the sniff test if I suspect the “rolled in it” odour is lingering. I spray the offending area with a light mist
of this product and gently rub it into the hair (not the skin) and leave it to air dry. Works like a charm.
I never move the dryer nozzle in a circular, willy nilly manner while drying a dog’s coat…that just creates a mass of tangles and extra work in the end. I’ve seen it done and what a nightmare!
For safety sake I double loop all dogs when I put them on my grooming table for drying and all other grooming procedures. If the dog were to panic when I begin to dry him he will not fall off the table. I have one hand free to move him around and one to hold the dryer nozzle AND most importantly a head start at control with one hand on him at all times. Should the dog fling about I would drop the dryer hose and have him settled immediately. There is an exception with very large breed and/or old dogs but that will be gone into at a later date.