At-Home Dog Grooming
Flea baths are becoming a thing of the past, replaced by prescription flea protections that are dabbed on once a month (Frontline, Revolution) or given orally (Capstar), all of which are harmless to humans and pets.
And the weekly baths that protect allergic pet owners can also be eliminated in some cases. Non-toxic products like Allerpet (available at pet stores) can be rubbed onto the fur with your hands or a cloth for the same sneeze-free results as a bath.
With these two problems licked, you may be tempted to avoid the suds, the splashing, and the exhausting battle of wills involved in bathing your dog. But even the most protected indoor pooch can start to smell like, well, a dog. Ask your vet how often your dog should be bathed (it depends on the breed and the activity level).
When picking a shampoo, consider how often you'll be bathing your dog. His skin pH is different from yours, so your favorite shampoo may be too drying. Baby shampoo is fine for animals who need only occasional washing, but for those who are bathed weekly, use a special dog shampoo. Shampoos like Kenic Sno-Flake ($8 for 16 ounces, globalpets.com) brighten up light-colored dogs, and Les Poochs' Pooch Bright Shampoo ($18 for eight ounces, lespoochs.com) adds luster to all coats.
Michelle Higbee, president of Madeline's Institute of Pet Grooming in Santa Clara, California, says pet owners can teach their dogs good bath behavior the same way they teach them to do tricks. Be firm and consistent, she says. "Dogs learn fast that they can make the owners stop when they always give in."
Bring your dog into the bathroom and give him treats while the water is running. Next, put him in the tub. Then have him stand in a few inches of water while you reward him. (If the process rings a bell―think Pavlov.) Your dog will eventually get used to this routine.
Keep a plastic cup nearby and pour warm water over him. Massage in the shampoo. Rinse thoroughly (try using a hose attachment with a gentle spray). Dry with a towel and then air-dry or use a hair dryer. Your blow-dryer, however, could be too strong, even for long-haired dogs, so be careful. To finish the job, a cotton ball and some warm water takes care of most eye and ear nastiness.