dog being bathed at a dog groomers and shaking water everywhere

Dog Grooming Bathing Tips – How To Shampoo A Dog

It seems simple doesn’t it, bathing? But, not only does it take a lot longer than people think, it’s also one of the most crucial tasks to keeping a dog hygienic and happy.

One of the most common complaints by owners after their dog leaves a grooming salon is that the animal won’t stop scratching. This is purely because the groomer hasn’t rinsed out the shampoo properly and there is a residue left on the skin or coat which causes the dog discomfort.Using the right shampoo is important.

If a dog has no history of skin complaints and no obvious signs of skin trouble, a general all-purpose dog shampoo will suffice. However, if the dog has skin trouble, bad matting which has been closely shaved, signs of scurf (doggie dandruff) or appears anything other than ‘normal’, a shampoo more specific to their needs should be used. For these dogs The Paw Pad favours the use of tea tree shampoo. It’s gentle, naturally medicated and not too harsh on the purse strings either.

Dog Bathing Step By Step Guide

  1. If the breed requires it, pluck the ears. This is because the powder used for plucking can smell quite strongly, especially if you use canker powder. It can also leave a white powdery residue which can be easily washed off in the bath.

  2. Trim the nails before the bath. If you get a bleed, you want to be able to wash the fur instead of potentially sending a white dog home with a pink foot.

  3. Make sure the coat is brushed through and matt free. Washing matts is a waste of time – they shouldn’t be there.

  4. Clip away any unwanted body hair. Why wash fur that is only going to be clipped away later in the grooming process? By removing the excess fur, the bathing procedure will be quicker.

  5. Make certain that the dog is safely secured in the bath. Never leave a dog unattended in the bath, even for a moment. It’s amazing how quickly accidents can happen.

  6. Ensure the water gets through to the skin. This is easier on some breeds than others. For example, a smooth-coated dog will be easier to wet to the skin than a double-coated dog. Of course shampooing wet fur gets the best results so every inch of the animal must be completely wet before you can apply the shampoo.

  7. Leave the face until last. Wetting a dog’s face will make it want to shake itself more in the bath and you could potentially end up soaked! By leaving the face until last, the dog should stand still long enough for you to complete the task.

  8. Apply the shampoo. Most dog shampoos don’t lather as much as human shampoo, so don’t apply masses of it expecting a great lather. As with wetting, you need to ensure the shampoo is all the way down to the skin. You may need a rubber bath mitt or ‘Zoom Groom’ tool to help with this on double-coated breeds but they can be used on all dogs. These bathing tools have rubber prongs which gently massage the shampoo into the skin. It also feels nice for the dog. Turn your shower off whilst shampooing the dog or you’ll waste a lot of water.

  9. Make sure you shampoo the whole dog, even the nasty bits – armpits, bums, genitals, muzzles, crusty eyes, they all need a thorough washing!

  10. Now the tricky bit…you have to get ALL that shampoo out of that coat and off the skin. Don’t underestimate how long this could take you. Use the tips of your fingers to rinse so you can feel when the shampoo has gone.

  11. Let the dog shake then blast the dog in the bath to remove the excess water. Give them a good towel dry.

  12. Dry the dog with a finishing dryer or use the low airflow function of a blaster dryer. Again, don’t underestimate how long it takes to dry some dogs. As with wetting and shampooing, you need to make sure you’ve fully dried the undercoat down to the skin.

A lovely sweet-smelling, happy, clean dog. Is there anything nicer?

Dog Bathing Top Tip

If the dog is about to shake in the bath and you don’t want it to, squeeze gently between its shoulder blades. Most times this will prevent the dog doing a full body shake and soaking you. Let the dog shake when the bath is complete though as that will get a lot of excess water off the coat ready for drying. Just hold a towel between you so you stay relatively dry! Bathing and drying is covered on all Paw Pad dog grooming courses. Contact us to learn more or read our Guide to Becoming a Dog Groomer.