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Some of us prefer our long haired dogs, like Bearded Collies, Yorkshire Terriers, or Shih Tzus. But others prefer their short haired buddies, like that of the Boxer, Great Dane, or the classic Labrador Retriever. Either type, whether long hair or short hair dogs, owners will admit that cleaning their pups can be a pain in the you know what.
But have no fear! There are plenty of options when it comes to cleaning your dog, short and long hair. It may take some training, treats, and time (we like to call these the three T’s of cleaning) until your dog is used to cleaning and bath time. Some dogs may never get the hang of bathing and it may constantly be gross and stinky and not a fun time, but there are ways to minimize problems.
Luckily, we have just the tips for you. We’ve broken it down into general tips, and then specifications for whether you are cleaning a short hair dog or a long hair furry friend.
First things first.
Have some treats handy. Believe us when we say that your dog will not be a happy camper if you try to bathe them for the first time and offer no reward. You can also have their favorite toy present in case a treat does not quite do the trick.
Make sure they are secure. If you are outside, it is possible the dog may get scared and try to run off. So make sure they are leashed or tied down. If you are indoors, make sure they have been in the tub before and do not get scared when they are in it. The last thing you want is a wet, loose dog on the run in your house, leaving soap bubbles behind on the carpet.
Be cautious with shampoos. Just like us humans, dogs can have very sensitive skin. Your best bet is to get fragrance free shampoo for their safety. But if you have to have one with fragrance (because most owners want their dogs to smell good afterwards), try out a few and read labels to see which one might suit you and your pet, best. Oatmeal shampoo is a great option, and so is any shampoo containing citrus oil.
Two is better than one. If possible, have a partner when cleaning your dog. At least for the first time around. If you are able to clean while another person occupies them and keeps them calm, the chances are, you will finish the bathing process sooner and much quicker.
Let’s Get Down to Business.
There are a few basic rules when it comes to dog cleanliness and bathing time. They include:
Do not get water in their ears. We, as humans and pet lovers, understand the frustration of getting water clogged in the ears. And we most certainly know how annoying it can be. But it is also known to be a health hazard, if too much water gets trapped in them. So make sure you protect your pup’s ears when cleansing them. A great idea is to put cotton balls in their ears to prevent this from happening. You are much better off safe than sorry.
Stay away from their face. Start by washing them from the neck down. You can either use your hands, a hose, or a sprayer. But whatever you do, do not get shampoo in their eyes or mouth. To cleanse their face and head, use a damp washcloth. Do not use soap anywhere near their mouth or eyes!
Take off their collar. Something that many dog owners forget is to take off their collar. You don’t want to miss any possible fleas or infections under the neck where the collar is!
1. Get a good temperature! Make sure you level off the water temperature so it is not burning hot, but not ice cold.
2. Rinse them! Before applying any soap or shampoo, make sure you rinse them off with water first. Double check to make sure they are completely soaked in water before moving on.
3. Lather on the shampoo! It is much better to use your hands for this next step. While you can use a washcloth, it is better to get your hands in their fur to help feel around for possible fleas, ticks, or inflammation. But do not use your hands in a forceful way, because this can result in dog hair loss. Remember to keep the shampoo away from their face! If their head is abnormally dirty, that is when you should use a damp washcloth to get rid of the dirt.
4. Rinse again! You need to rinse very heavily in this step to make sure you get rid of all the shampoo. If you do not properly do this and leave shampoo in their coat, it can cause improper PH balanace, which can lead to inflammation in their skin. Spray and rinse away from their head to avoid rinsing shampoo into their eyes or mouth.
5. Dry! Yes, you can let them do their typical full body shake before you dry them off with a towel. But it is important to dry them off with a towel as best as you can. You can use a hair dryer, but use with precaution. Always keep the hair dryer on a low setting and do not dry in the direction of their face. Drying is important, because believe it when we say that you do not want a damp dog running around your house or yard and getting dirty all over again!
But wait…is bathing different for a long hair dog? Short hair dogs?
We are glad you asked! While there are not a lot of big differences in cleaning when it comes to a short hair dog or a long hair dog, there are some key things that are different that can be helpful. We have included some tips on how to reach the unwanted areas on a long haired dog, and how not to scrub the fur off of your short hair.
Although short hair dogs do not have as much hair as others, they are still dogs with hair. And bathing them should be as least complicated as possible. So there are a few things that we can tweak from the steps above to administer to our short haired pals.
1. Use a rubber curry comb. Using this kind of a comb to brush through their short hair before the bath is incredibly useful. This kind of comb specializes in pulling off the dead hair from your dogs furry coat without scratching the uhnderlayer of skin.
2. USE COTTON BALLS. We cannot emphasize this enough. But especially for short hair breeds, cotton balls are highly recommended. This is because short haired dogs do not have a natural water barrier like those of a long haired breed. So you need to use extra caution when washing them.
3. Be extra gentle. The last thing you want is dog hair loss. So be super gentle when rubbing shampoo through their coat.
4. Use coat conditioner. Short hair dog breeds are prone to getting dry skin at some point, so to help minimize those chances, put some coat conditioner on the dog’s spine and spread it throughout their coat with your hands (gently). Then let the conditioner sit on their skin for about five minutes. From there, use fresh water to rinse off the coat conditioner. The point of this you may ask? Coat conditioner helps reduce itchy skin and irritation by restoring its original oils back.
5. Keep your buddy warm. Because of their short hair, these dogs can get colder much quicker. So if you see them shivering in their first towel, change the damp towel to a fresh one to accomodate them. Hey, the last thing you want is a dog with pneumonia, right?
While it is definitely a bigger pain to clean a long hair dog breed, their beautiful and thick coat afterward makes it worth while! Here are some tips on bathing these gorgeous haired beauties:
1. Use a slicker brush and a bristle brush. To help prevent matting or tangles, and to remove any that may be in there before the bath, use a slicker brush. This brush will help get through the thickest of tangles. Then use a bristle brush to help get rid of the dead skin and help prevent constant shedding when bathing your pup.
2. Add water to shampoo if necessary. Because you have more hair to go through, and more likely a bigger surface area, you can water down your shampoo to help it go farther. This is perfect for dogs who have good skin and you do not need to worry about moisturizing their skin just right.
3. Yes to the conditioner. Most likely, dogs with thick hair will need all the conditioner they can get to help control the fur. Using conditioner will also help prevent future dandruff and tangling.
4. Make sure they get dry! After THOROUGHLY rinsing out their coat and the shampoo, you can either blow dry or use a towel to dry them off. Taking them for a walk might be a nice treat for them, as well as a quick way to dry them off.
Need a Stress Reliever?
Most likely, you will be a bit stressed after your first time cleaning and bathing your beloved dog. So while we are on the topic of dog hair, there is this popular and great brewery in Portland, Oregon called Hair of the Dog Brewery. We suggest going there to unwind!