Monday Mischief–Bath Day
Yesterday was bath day for a few of the dogs. The two youngest were due. We bathe only when needed, which means sometimes the girls go months without baths. Bathing too often can lead to dry skin, which leads to itching and scratching and very often skin issues which require vet visits. You don’t want to eradicate the natural oils present in their skin, which help keep their coat shiny and beautiful.
Learning to accept being groomed is an important thing to teach your dog. The kids are helping with grooming as soon as they are able. It is important for the dogs to realize that they can and will be handled by even the young humans, and that they must learn to accept it. My youngest has been helping since she was about 2, but obviously you must remain present and match the child with his/her she-appropriate activity. I usually start them out brushing the dogs, since this is something that they can do from an early age. Bathing is another thing that they can learn to do fairly young. My youngest (above with Cairo) is learning to properly bathe, condition and rinse. She is 5. While she helped with bathing when she was younger, her attention span is better now. Her ability to assert herself has been present from a young age and the dogs respond to her verbage quite readily (she is stern and quite effective with tone, like Mom). My middle child, while 6 years older, still needs help with the assertion part. All kids are different, so as the adult present it is up to me to assess which child is better at which job. Of course I remain with them so no one gets knocked over (puppies can be rambunctious) or soaked in the face with the hose (kids can be rambunctious, too).
“Ahhh, towel massage. My favorite part!”
Part of bath day is nail trimming, ear cleaning and ear trimming. Their nails are ground down a lot by walking on concrete but we still want to trim and grind (dremmel) them regularly. I handle this job, as they can be wiggly, especially the two youngest pups. As they get older they begin lifting their paws for me. It does take a bit of work to get to that point.
I do, however, encourage the kids to handle dog feet often. From the time they come here, they are being handled everywhere, and feet are no exception. It is quite easy for everyone to be sitting in the living room watching tv, handling paws during commercials, playfully pointing out toenails and ears and petting bellies as we accustom them to having feet handled in preparation for nail trimming later. A particularly wiggly or resistant pup can usually be slowed and made more manageable by someone holding a spoon full of peanut butter for them to lick as their feet are being handled. This can create a very positive association for the pup.
Siren offering her paw. She is not fond of nail trimming time but she does accept it.
I clean their ears with alcohol soaked cotton balls after every bath or swim, so as to dry up any moisture in there. They usually get a decent amount of sand in there since they love digging, but the fact that their ears are short does help immensely since they are open to air flow.
Trimming their ears consists of trimming the hairs along the outside of the ear so as to give it a cleaner, sharper appearance. I usually only do this before they are being shown, as I tend to like the fuzzy teddy bear look the ears take on when the hair has been untrimmed for a while. Getting the dogs accustomed to this usually involves giving them goodies as they do tend to flick their ears around a lot while I am trimming them. This is not something I allow the kids to do until they are way older, if at all, since I am a perfectionist when it comes to something so precise. Ears will affect the whole look of the dog. Of course, let’s get real, not many of the older kids are going to be fighting for the chance to groom a dog, anyway.
After-bath zoomies are a MUST!
After they are towel-dried they go inside to dry. When dry they come back out to be de-shedded and then I usually give them a douse of smelly-good grooming spray to top everything off, then it’s relaxation time.
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