I remember the first time my husband and I bathed our newborn we literally googled "how to wash your baby". We were so nervous we were going to do something wrong and accidentally hurt the little nugget. Dog's are the new fur-babies and washing them ourselves can be equally stressful. What we have learned since launching Pride+Groom is that our customers have a lot of questions and we are here to help! Here are some of the most common mistakes dog owner make and how to avoid them:
1. Not Prepping
Bath time can be stressful for dogs. You want to make it a positive experience. have lots of treats on hand, and turn bath time into a bonding experience.
2. Forgetting to Protect Their ears
Even if your dog is not prone to ear infections (like mine are), it's important to protect their ears from water and soap. The inside of dog ears do not need to be washed. In fact, water in the the inner ear canal can can create the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow which can lead to ear infections. Placing cotton balls in the ears before bath time is an easy and inexpensive way to keep water out. Of course, bath time is also a great time for photo ops so a snood or other cute headgear is always an option.
3. Not Brushing Pre-bath
Just like you would never hop in the shower with your own head full of knots, you will end up with a matted mess if you forget to brush your dog before getting him wet. The longer the hair, the more important this is. If you have a high-shedding dog, brushing before the bath can remove some of the undercoat allowing for a cleaner, more efficient bath.
4. Leaving Shampoo in
It is very important that you get all the shampoo out. Soap left on your pup can cause skin irritations and/or leave your dog itchy which will result in your dog scratching and creating skin irritations. In addition, shampoo left on their coat can cause mattes. Rinse the face separately. Use a warm wet wash cloth or water in your hands to gently remove the water from around the eyes, ears and schnoz.
5. Not Brushing Post Bath
Unless you have a very short haired, non-shedding dog that can shake and air dry, you will want to brush your dog again after the wash. The shampoo/conditioner will loosen he dead hair. If you do not brush it out, it can get stuck and tangled in the coat. Don't forget the belly! It's super easy to simply brush the back. I know I could do that all day long and my pups would love it. You need to get the belly and entire paws.
6. Clipping Nails the Wong Way
Make sure you have the right equipment: Sharp clippers that you replace when needed. Again, this can be stressful for your dog. Especially if she can sense that you are nervous. Keep treats on hand or smear a little sugar-free peanut butter on the wall and let him lick it while you are clipping. If you are nervous start slowly, just clipping the very end of the nail as you want to make sure you do not cut the "quick" (the pink soft tissue in the center of the nail). If trimming your dog's nails yourself is too stressful for you, there is no shame in leaving it to the professionals. Most groomers will charge you a minimal fee to quickly clip the nails for you.
7. Shaving too Close to Skin
If you cut too close to the skin, you can cause skin irritations or even knick the skin. As with clipping the nails, you want a sharp razor that you replace often. When you are just starting out use a lower number blade until you get the hang of it. (IE blade #3 leaves approx 1/2" of hair, blade #5 leaves approx 1/4" hair).
8. Shaving Completely in Summertime
If you are like me, you have always thought that summertime mean "summer cut" for dogs AKA basically shearing your dog to keep him cool. This is exactly what you do NOT want to do. A dog's cat actually helps them regulate their body tempurature keeping themselves cool in summer and warmer in winter. Shaving them down also exposes them to sunburn or sunstroke. If your dog swims, runs around in sand and dirt a lot in the warmer months, it's ok to keep the hair short. Just make sure there is enough to protect from sun and elements.
9. Washing Too Often
Dogs coat/hair contains natural oils and proteins that protects it. Washing too often can remove these natural properties, cause skin irritations and/or dryness. If your dog has sensitive skin or a medical condition follow the washing schedule proposed by your vet. Obviously if your dog gets caught in a rain storm or rolls in the mud, an extra bath now and then isn't going to hurt him!
10. Letting Your Dog Free After the Bath
Dogs often get the zoomies after a bath. If you take your dog out of the bath and let him run after the bathroom chances are she will jump sopping wet onto the nearest piece of furniture, use your favorite sofa as a towel, hop onto your pillow... If you live in a house and she can get outside, you are looking at a dog that will probably run to the stinkiest, dirtiest area he can find and roll around in it. Keep her confined until she is relatively dry and calm.