Pets need to be bathed frequently – but it’s compulsory when they get dirty or smelly — but it’s a good idea to accustom your pet to the bathing process while he’s/she’s still young and open to new experiences.
Once again, follow the Boy Scout motto: “Be Prepared.” Have everything you need laid out within easy reach before you start the water: brush, cotton balls, shampoo, and towels. Also, place a rubber mat in the bottom of the sink or tub so your pup won’t slip and slide. Then fill it with warm — not hot — water.
Now it’s time to add the pet. Brush her thoroughly, from the skin out, to remove tangles and loose hair. Tangles and mats only get worse when they get wet, so make sure you remove all of them first. Place cotton balls snugly — but not deeply — in your pet’s ears to keep out water and soap.
Next comes the fun part: Splashdown! (Make sure you’re wearing clothes you don’t mind getting wet.) Place your pet in the water, holding her gently but firmly. Wet her from the head down, making sure you keep water out of her eyes and ears. Don’t dunk the pet in water. Apply a shampoo specifically formulated for pets. (Never use human shampoo — your pet’s hair covers her entire body, not just her head, and the dose of ingredients she’ll get from your shampoo may be too much for her.) Now, lather her up, working the shampoo down to the skin. If you’re bathing a puppy with a flea-control shampoo, make sure it’s safe for pets her age. Always read and follow label directions carefully. Avoid getting the shampoo in your pet’s eyes and ears.
Keep talking to your pet during the bath, reassuring her and telling her what a good pet she is (even if she’s trying to get out of the tub). Rinse her thoroughly, again using warm water. Be especially careful about getting shampoo in her eyes and ears when rinsing her head. Remove the pet from the tub, tell her what a good pup she is, and towel-dry her until she is damp. If it is hot and sunny, you can let the dog air dry in a wire crate, exercise pen, or other ventilated enclosure. (You don’t want her escaping to go roll in the dirt.) Keep rubbing her with a dry towel to speed the process. If sun-drying isn’t feasible, commercial pet dryers are available for home use. These are useful to have if you will be bathing your pet frequently or if your pup will grow up to be a very large pet. Otherwise, you can use a blow-dryer (if the pet is not scared of it) on a low, warm setting to finish drying her. Never use a blow-dryer set on hot or high, and avoid putting the blow-dryer too near her. Keep the pet in a warm, draft-free area until she is completely dry, especially if the weather is cold, damp, or windy.
To keep your pet clean and sweet-smelling after her bath, brush her regularly: weekly for a short-haired pet and as often as daily for a pet with a long or heavy coat. Brushing removes dead hair, dirt, and parasites, and it distributes skin oils to keep Lady’s coat shiny and beautiful. Plus, it just plain feels good. If you make bathing and brushing an enjoyable process — especially with a young puppy — it’ll be a lot easier in the future.
In today’s busy world, a lot of us just don’t have time to groom our pets. Regular trips to a skilled, professional groomer are just the ticket for the busy pet owner. Some pets are particularly high-maintenance, though, and it doesn’t matter how much spare time you have — it may still be best to let an experienced groomer handle long, thick, or heavy coats. Other pet owners like to let the pros do the dirty work and keep their own interactions with their pet strictly for fun and learning. A professional groomer may also catch unusual spots, lumps, bumps, or even injuries on your pet that you may have missed under all her hair.
A pet whose coat is heavily matted or soiled needs professional care. Removing mats is a time-consuming, delicate process, and mistakes can result in injury. In severe cases, some or the entire coat must be shaved. The professional touch is usually a must for show pets, too. Grooming requirements for the showing are fairly strict (terrier coats must be plucked rather than shaved, for example), and an amateurish grooming job just won’t put your pet in her best light.
Now let’s move to another kind of care — making your home safe for your pooch, and in the process keeping your possessions safe from his curiosity. In the next section, we’ll cover all the elements of pet-proofing your home.