- Shampoo, ideally purchased from a pet-supply store or pet catalog, since some of the grocery store brands cause severe dandruff on certain dogs
- Cream rinse if your dog has long hair
- A hose and sprayer that will fit securely on the faucet you’ll be using
- Lots of towels
- The dog’s collar and leash
IF YOU NEED TO BUY ANY OF THESE THINGS check out some good, economical sources such as petedge.com and leatherbrothers.com. An excellent alternative, becoming more widely available with every passing year, is a self-serve dog wash. The equipment, towels, and mess stay where they belong, permanently out of your home.
FOR MOST OF US, BATHING AT HOME IS THE MOST CONVENIENT ALTERNATIVE. If you have access to a stationary tub (the sort of utilitarian raised tub that’s often found in basements), I strongly recommend that you use it rather than a bathtub. The lighting will be better, the elevation will be easier on your back, and you’ll be able to tie the leash to a nearby pipe. Best of all, you’ll be able to attach the sprayer hose securely to the faucet with a standard hose fitting, so it won’t go flying off in the middle of that all-important rinse.
LIFT OR HELP YOUR DOG INTO THE TUB and tie his leash to something solid nearby, such as a pipe. Don’t leave any slack in the leash; once he figures out that there’s nowhere to go, he will settle down for the duration. Keeping the water pressure quite low and the sprayer head close to his body, get him wet.
TO WASH THE HEAD, MUZZLE, AND EARS, reduce the water pressure, keep the nozzle against the dog’s skin and be ultraconservative with your application of shampoo. If the dog’s head isn’t stinky or dirty, skip it and wash him from the neck back. Lather up every inch of his body to the top of his neck. Then rinse rinse rinse; professional groomers say to rinse until you’re sure your dog is squeaky clean, and then rinse him again.
FINALLY, USE YOUR HANDS to gently squeeze out the excess water.Then wrap him in towels and rub him down to dry him off. Then it’s back to work. Position him on your grooming table or platform, using a collar-and-leash combo to keep him still, and follow the steps appropriate to his breed or coat type to blow dry, brush, clean his ears, and possibly trim his coat.
YOU’LL FIND A NUMBER OF GOOD BOOKS on breed-specific or general grooming at your local bookstore. If your dog is a mixed breed, he’ll probably look his handsome best if you follow the recommendations for the breed he most closely resembles.