Washing and Grooming Dogs – Keeping Dogs Clean

Washing and Grooming Dogs – Keeping Dogs Clean.

To keep a dog clean requires washing or brushing, or both. The less washing the better, and unless the dog is a white one and looks dirty or smells a little doggy, stick to the brush as long as possible. There are many dog brushes, just as we have a variety of dogs’ coats. Collies, setters, and those with a good quality of coat will do well enough with the better sort of dandy-brush, such as is used in the stable. The fibres are long enough and coarse enough to penetrate to the skin and clean that well. Then for a top polish the bristle-glove or the brush with the flexible leather and strap-back will answer admirably, polishing the coat and thoroughly separating it, so that it shows to the best advantage. The finer and shorter the coat, the finer the brush that may be used, until it comes to the long-coated toys such as those of the Pomeranians, spaniels, or Yorkshires. For Pomeranians a special brush is made, with good length of bristles and not all the same length; for Yorkshires, a fine bristle and a rounded front. As to the Yorkshire terriers such as we see at shows they are quite unsuitable for the house, as they have to be kept in the most artificial manner so as to grow and preserve the coat as we see it on exhibition specimens. The toy spaniels are different, however, their coats being of moderate length, of more substance, and not so liable to break when being brushed. In all long-coated dogs be par- ticular to comb or brush the coat thoroughly at the back of the ears, and also about the hind-quarters, for it will otherwise become matted.

When it is deemed necessary to wash a dog, use the best quality of soap, whether special dog-soap or toilet-soap. The strong common soaps take the polish from the coat, and it will take a day or so to come on again. Use plenty of water, regulating its warmth according to the breed of dog and its ability to stand cold water. If the dog is not averse to the bath, begin at the head and lather well, being as quick as possible in the operation and doing it thoroughly. If you are using a carbolic soap or any flea-killer of strong quality, follow immediately with a plain soap lather and wash out. Have ready another bath or sufficient water to refill the one being used, and let this be colder than the first with more than the chill off, and for strong dogs in the summer-time let it be cold water. It is preferable to put the dog in the empty tub or bath, and let an attendant pour on the clean water from a jug or water-pot while you rinse out the coat with both hands so as to remove every particle of the soap. On large and hardy dogs you can use the lawn water-pipe. This cooler bath not only cleans out the soap, but to a great extent prevents colds.

As it takes considerable time to soap large dogs with a cake of soap and get a good lather, it will be found more convenient to shave the soap and dissolve it in warm water, using this either by laving it on with the hand as needed or pouring it along the back and rubbing the lather down the sides. Some dogs object to being washed, but no matter how fractious they may be, a little patience and firmness never fails to quiet them. In such cases wash the body first, and when they are quieted do the head. Let them know that they must submit, and they will. The toys are more likely to be the worst, but as they know the ashamed tone of voice very well, hold the little rascals down by their forelegs and talk to them seriously. If on letting go one of the legs a toy dog does not struggle, tell him what a nice little dog he is, and he is very certain to behave himself. If he does not, then repeat the process till he does.

Now comes the hardest part of the process, the drying. Here again weather and the variety of the dog create differences. A good, hardy ter- rier in the summer-time is a very different thing from a toy in the winter. Having thoroughly rinsed all soap from the coat, empty the bath, and placing the dog in it or some place where the drip from the coat will not damage anything, squeeze as much of the water out as you can, running the hands the way of the coat and down the legs, squeezing the foot. After that take a sponge and go over the coat in a similar manner. If the dog is not long-coated so as to get snarled, the sponge may be rubbed up and down in the coat and will be found to absorb much of the water. The next proc- ess is rubbing with a towel, and this should continue till the coat is well dried, more particularly in cold weather, and in the case of delicate dogs, or of those which cannot be liberated for a smart run in the warm sunshine on account of their being prepared for show. This point will be treated later. You cannot err in drying the dog well, so do it thoroughly and in the case of toys use dry, warm towels, thereafter applying a warm brush and the hands till no trace of dampness remains in the coat. In the country in sum- mer time, when one has a good lawn on which to let a dog run, the sun and breeze will assist materially in the drying process, though one must use judgment, for some dogs are almost too delicate for this exposure unless the weather is exceedingly favourable.

There is no question that strong soap will take the polish off a dog’s coat, but it is perhaps not altogether that. If a person takes a very warm bath, or washes his face in hot water, there is a very decided subsequent feel- ing of dryness about the skin, which is not the case when cold or tepid water is used. The hot water of itself takes away the natural tone of the skin, and it must have a similar effect upon the hair of the dog, hence the advisa- bility of using as cool water as the conditions will permit.