people do not encourage owners to bathe their Cocker frequently, but
I believe that if you use quality grooming supplies and bathe the
dog correctly, a weekly bath (or every other week if your dog is
short coated and not the outdoorsy type) is beneficial and helps keep the dog
healthier. Not only will the dog benefit from regular baths,
you will benefit because the dog will not be trailing dirt and
dander around your house, on the furniture and in your bed (if Fido
gets to sleep there!) No one wants to cuddle a dirty, smelly
dog, so everyone will be much happier once bath time is over and you can
get back to snuggling and cuddling on the couch!
sure to keep bath time as pleasant and unhurried as possible. This
can help prevent accidents in the slippery confines of the tub and
bathroom and will help you avoid frightening the dog. In addition,
try to keep the proceedings quiet and calm so the dog doesn't get overly
excited. An excited or anxious dog may dance, jump around or
struggle and this could also lead to the dog slipping and hurting
NEVER leave your
dog alone in the tub. Make sure you have all of your supplies ready and within reach before you
bring your dog into the bathroom. (Specific shampoos and other
doggy products I recommend are listed on other web-pages, so this
article does not specify that type of information. Go back to my
page to find this information.)
throw Fido in the tub, be sure he is ready for his bath, your chosen
location is appropriately prepared and that you have all of your
all necessary bathing supplies (or grab your previously
packed and stored bathing supply tote!) and arrange products
within easy reach.
Shampoo - premixed in a spray or pour-on bottle + some
shampoo concentrate in a small bottle for really dirty spots.
(Save an empty dish soap or shampoo bottle for
mixing and applying shampoo.)
extra greasy spots or dogs, prepare an additional
small bottle of 50% Dawn Dish Soap (original) and
your dog has runny eyes, excessive tearing, lip fold
dermatitis or ear infections, have a small pump
bottle of anti-bacterial hand soap available.
Use this in the corners of the eyes, under the chin
in the lip folds and around the ear canal on the
inside of the ear leather to kill bacteria on the
skin. (Be careful not to get this in the eyes
or mouth. While it's OK to get a little bit of
diluted soap in the ear, the undiluted stuff would
be hard to rinse out completely so avoid getting
full-strength soap in the ears.)
Conditioner - premixed in a pour-on bottle.
Flea treatment or other specialty products.
Ear Cleaner & Drying solution.
Cotton balls and Q-Tips.
Dog biscuits - BRIBES!!
Metal comb and/or flea comb.
Tweezers in case you find a tick.
Flea & Tick spray to kill any parasites you find.
you really want to pamper Fido, try some
aromatherapy candles and give him an extra few
minute of massage and petting!
prevent damage to items in the bathroom, drape with towels
or remove from harms way.
Secure a drain screen in
the tub to catch excess hair and prevent plumbing
the bathroom floor with an old shower curtain, trash bags
and/or an old sheet.
you have a hand-held shower head that can be used to wash
the dog, plan on using a plastic pitcher or large plastic
cup to rinse the shampoo and conditioner off the dog.
For heavily coated dogs, a small bucket filled with
diluted shampoo is helpful in getting the legs
completely wet and being sure the shampoo goes all the
way to the skin. Can also be used on the ears.
(Not getting the dog wet and the shampoo not getting to
the skin is the #1 reason a dog still stinks after its
bath.) Can also be filled with clean water and
used to rinse the legs and ears.
3-4 towels within reach - 2 or 3 for the dog and 1 for
drying your face! (If you want to dry your dog faster,
you might splurge for specialty pet drying towels that
absorb ten times their own weight in water!)
a rubber bath mat in the tub to prevent your dog from
slipping and hurting and/or scaring himself during the bath.
Press the may down to make sure it won't move. Use another mat in front of the tub to cushion your knees
while bathing and to give the dog a safe spot to stand for
towel drying after the bath.
- If you
have a SOLID handle or rail within the tub that is suitable,
attach a leash or grooming noose to this to help keep the
dog in the tub and prevent escapes.
there is no suitable place to attach a restraint within
the tub, you can purchase a heavy suction cup pet
restraint. These generally come with a grooming
noose type attachment to control the dog and prevent
very sure any restraint is short enough to prevent your
dog from jumping out of the bath or falling over the
side of the bath and strangling himself.
you have a grooming table and plan to dry the dog on it,
set it up in the appropriate location.
Place the hair dryer in a handy location so that all you
need to do is plug it in.
radio or boom box and some good tunes! Keep it
relaxing. (Your dog is liable to stress with hard
rock or rap blasting in such a small space!)
Just before you bring in the dog, run the water to get
the correct temperature settings and so that the warm
water is ready to flow. If you don't have a
hand-held shower head (or even if you do!), you may want
to close the tub drain and run 4-6 inches of bath
temperature water into the tub. This can make it
easier to saturate a heavily coated dog. (Bath
water should be warm, NOT hot. A dog's normal body
temperature is slightly above a human's, but you do not
want the water to be too hot. Approximately the
same temperature as for a child should be appropriate.)
should be reasonably well brushed and his nails should be
trimmed before you start his bath. (UNLESS the dog is
really dirty and tangled. In that case you will want
to bath him, condition him and then brush him out as you
blow him dry.) It's acceptable to skip the brushing on
the "pee spots" and any other areas that are exceptionally
dirty and/or that have sticky residue on the hair, but if
most of the dog's coat is in pretty good shape, you should
brush him out before his bath.
Brushing before the bath will help remove dead coat that
is trapped in the long hair and which could become more
tangled during bathing and towel drying the dog.
Brushing will also remove small tangles in the coat that
could be scrubbed and rubbed deeper into the coat as you
bathe the dog.
time to get down and dirty....I mean clean!!
your dog to the bathroom and CLOSE THE DOOR (preventing
your dog in the tub and attach the restraint.
Fido a cookie for being so brave!
there is water in the tub, begin wetting the dog from the
head and then down the back. Starting with the head
will drive any fleas that happen to be on the dog away from
your dog’s face, eyes, and ears (where they like to hide
until after the bath and may not be killed by flea shampoo
there is no water in the tub, turn on the faucets, set the
temperature and begin wetting the dog as soon as the correct
temperature has been achieved.
turning off the shower or allowing the tub to drain,
separate the feathering on the ears, sides and legs to
verify that water has soaked all skin surfaces and the hair
is wet EVERYWHERE. Check between the toes, on the
undersides of the ears, the armpits and the groin area.
The dog MUST be soaking wet everywhere!
shampooing by applying diluted shampoo to the head, neck and
ears. Use your fingers to work the shampoo around the
face and neck.
Sometimes it's easier to use a warm soapy washcloth to
scrub the face.
fingernail or comb may be needed to remove gunk in the
corners of the eyes.
This area should be shampooed well and/or should be
washed with the anti-bacterial soap.
should the area under the chin and throat (don't forget
the little folds around the mouth) and around the
bottoms of the ear leathers.
more diluted shampoo to the ear feathers (both sides and
down to the skin) and carefully shampoo the ear featherings
without scrubbing them into tangles. (If the ears are
exceptionally gunky or greasy, you can use full strength
shampoo or your Dawn solution.)
you are sure you have the ear hair clean, gently squeeze
excess water and shampoo out of the ear feathers and repeat.
You CANNOT use too much diluted shampoo!
You may use your diluted shampoo in the bucket to re-wet
the ears after that first shampoo and squeeze.
Repeat the ear shampoo/squeeze routine until the water
being squeezed out runs clear (or the color of the
the ear hair is squeaky clean, use your ear cleaner to clean
the ear canals. (Check out my
article for directions on how to clean the ears.)
Flush the ears with cleaner until no more debris comes
use your diluted shampoo bottle to pour shampoo down the
dogs neck and back. Lather these areas well.
this point you should check the dog's side, belly and leg
coat to see if the dog is still wet enough to lather
properly. If the dog is getting too dry, wet his coat
will need to set your bucket of diluted shampoo in the tub
at this point. Pick up one front leg and put it in the
bucket. (If the dog won't stand on the leg in the
bucket, pick up the opposite leg so he has to stand on the
leg in the bucket.)
your fingertips again, scrub the leg in the bucket up, down
and around the entire leg being sure to get all the way up
into the armpit and down between the toes and pads of the
feet. If necessary add shampoo to the upper areas of
the leg from your shampoo bottle or with the glass/cup with
shampoo from the bucket.
- Do NOT
scrub the leg with your hands flat and/or wrapped around the
leg as this will tangle the coat.
all the way around the dog, washing each leg in the same
you have washed all four legs, use your cup to add shampoo
from the bucket to the side and belly coat (one area at a
time). Use your fingertips and wash these areas well.
you have the dog lathered all over, dip or pour shampoo on
the ear feathering once more. Work the shampoo through
the ear hair, then pour the remaining shampoo in the bucket
over the dog and go over the dog one more time with your
Fido a cookie!
on the water and rinse your bucket well as you are waiting
for the water to warm to the required temperature. Set
the clean bucket to one side.
Starting with the dog's head, rinse the dog well. Be
sure to get clean water into the armpits, between the toes,
on the inside of the ears, under the belly and between the
rear legs. Rinse until the water runs clear.
particular attention to any areas that you know have
tangles. It will be harder to rinse shampoo from
tangled areas of hair and from the skin below, so rinse
these areas extremely well.
it's time to re-wash the dog! That's right, the first
wash is just to get the TRULY nasty stuff off of the dog,
to make sure the dog is wet to the skin and to be sure he is
ready for his REAL bath! This time you are going to
use any necessary specialty shampoos to treat the skin for
itching or sores or to treat for parasites. This
shampoo is where you will make sure, absolutely 100% sure,
that every inch of the dog is clean and smells good!
(Be sure to let any medicated or flea shampoos sit for 10
minutes before rinsing!)
the dog as above, except that you shouldn't need to use a
bucket of shampoo.
there are any especially nasty places on the dog that always
seem to stink or collect extra dirt or that always look
dirty, use some full strength shampoo on those areas instead
of your diluted shampoo.
- If you
are using whitening shampoo, I generally let the dog sit for
about 20 minutes, but this may not be practical for your
it's time to rinse again. Fill your clean bucket with
warm water and set aside.
you think you are through rinsing, rinse for 2 more minutes!
(Remember to pay extra attention to tangles!)
you are SURE you're through rinsing, get your bucket of
clean water. Dip the ear hair into the water and use
your fingers to fan the hair and slosh it around in the
the standing in the bucket routine with each leg, fanning
the coat, rubbing between the toes and through the coat to
be sure each leg is rinsed completely. If necessary,
change the water in the bucket so you have clean water to
you have rinsed each leg, pick the dog up by the front legs,
have him stand on the rear legs and pour the rest of the
water from the bucket over the chest and belly hair.
Set the dog down and run your fingertips through the dog's
coat (especially the armpits, the middle of the belly and
between the rear legs to check for shampoo.
- If you
are satisfied that the dog is now clean and properly rinsed,
start at the head and begin squeezing the water from the top
of the dog, down towards the tail and legs.
squeeze water from the coat all the way down the sides and
legs, picking up each foot and removing as much water as
your dog is "in coat" and needs conditioner applied to the
hair, now is the time. Using small amounts of
conditioner poured into your hand or diluted conditioner in
a pour-on bottle, apply conditioner to the hair on the
bottoms of the ears. Next apply conditioner to each
leg, the side coat and chest hair. (I rarely use
conditioner on the head and back coat as the head coat is
usually shaved short and the back coat is not supposed to be
the conditioner sit on the dog for 5-10 minutes.
the dog as described above, using a clean bucket of water
after the first rinse to be sure you are getting all of the
conditioner out of the coat. (You can leave a LITTLE
conditioner in the tangled areas as this will help with
brush-out, however, too much conditioner left in the coat
can contribute to matting and can attract and hold dirt.)
rinsing the dog completely, squeeze the excess water from
the dog as described above.
removing as much water as possible, use your ear cleaner or
drying powder in the ears to flush and remove any water that
may have gotten in the ears.
a Q-Tip, remove excess powder or cleaner from the ears.
Starting at the head, squeeze the excess water from the dog
- Get a
towel (hopefully the extra thirsty towel!) and begin to
towel dry the dog in the tub. Do NOT scrub the dog!
Starting from the head, work your way back and down the dog,
squeezing gently to remove water. As you work your way
over the dog, use dry portions of the towel and/or get a dry
towel as needed (Make sure you have at least 2 towels
you have removed as much water as possible from the dog, lay
one of your last 2 towels down on the floor, wrap the last
towel around the dog, pick the dog up out of the tub and
place him on the towel that you placed on the floor.
Continue to towel dry the dog until you are satisfied that
you have removed enough water to start blow drying the dog.
Congratulations, your dog should be squeaky clean from head to
toes and ready to be blown dry! For information on dryers
and drying your dog, check out my
For owners that like to bathe their dog (or dogs) regularly, but
dread having to do the dirty dead in the house, consider
purchasing a raised dog bath. These portable units elevate
the dog to a comfortable level for you, have a restraint to keep
the dog from jumping out of the tub, have a padded non-slip
surface to prevent the dog from slipping and sliding and are so
lightweight almost anyone can move them. The one below is
about $150. The hose attachment shown with the tub is an
addition $35 or so and lets you hook up to existing laundry
connections for hot/cold water. You attach a garden hose
with a spray nozzle and shut-off valve to the hose connection
and that gives you warn water at the touch of a button to bathe
With one of
these set-ups, bathing the dog is no longer such a chore and is
less time-consuming. You'll find yourself more willing to tackle
the task when you know you won't have to clean the bathroom and
suffer from an aching back for the rest of the day!