I hope you find this guide to bathing a dog invaluable. It includes tips and advice on the best way to bath your Cocker Spaniel as well as a handy checklist to help you bath your pet without tantrums or tears!
Bathing your pet can be stressful for you both - especially if your Cocker Spaniel decides he doesn't want to be bathed!
However, giving your dog a bath from time to time is essential to help his coat stay clean and shining, his skin healthy, and to stop him from smelling less than fragrant!
Read on to learn how to bathe your dog with the minimum of fuss. I aim to answer your most frequently asked questions about bathing a dog such as:
And then, I put it all together into an easy check-list on how to bathe your dog.
There are some groomers that recommend you gently tease out all knots
and matting before bathing a dog because they believe that if tangles and mats are left in the coat,
they'll trap shampoo and dirt and simply make matters worse by tightening
They also believe that it could cause skin complaints, or aggravate existing skin conditions.
There are others however, that would disagree and say that cutting into an unwashed mat or coat will blunt their (very expensive) scissors.
Personally, I like to remove tats and matting before I bath my Cocker Spaniel, but I believe it's entirely a personal choice.
Decide for yourself which way around you prefer to do it - bathing your dog first and then brushing him, or groom him first - it's not life threatening!
way you choose to do it, brushing your dog is an important part of his
grooming schedule as brushing helps to remove dirt, loose hair, tangles
and that all important undercoat - if you don't reach the undercoat when
brushing, it will eventually clump together and cause matting. Brushing also gets the circulation going and helps to distribute natural oils evenly around his coat.
The lifestyle of your pooch can determine how often you need to give your dog a bath.
For example, if your Cocker is very active and free to run around in the countryside, his coat will no doubt collect half a ton of vegetation - picking up burrs, leaves, bits of twig, and other debris of dubious origin.
If your pet is lucky enough to swim in the sea, or in rivers, or even if he romps through all the muddy puddles he can find, it probably means that bathing your dog will be a fairly frequent event in your household - especially if he enjoys rolling in muck! (and they do, don't they?)
On the other hand, your Cocker Spaniel may be fairly sedate, owing to old age perhaps, or he may be content with just a little gentle exercise in the garden, or a short stroll along the pavement - in which case, bath-time may only be required once every three months or so - if this applies, lucky you!
The type of coat your pet has is another factor involved in determining how often you should be bathing your dog. If his coat is heavy or thicker than normal, your Cocker Spaniel may need frequent baths to keep him clean, but dogs with shorter, smooth hair, may not need so many.
Cocker's coats are naturally water-repellent and bathing your pet too often could be harmful because it will strip the coat of its essential oils, and can cause dryness and irritation.
Keeping bath-time to a minimum will help to preserve those essential oils which keep his coat waterproof.
If you have any doubts about when to wash your dog, this very scientific test can help.
Have your dog sit in front of you, get down to his level,
lean over him and...sniff deeply - if he smells bad, it's bath time!
In the summer, when the weather's warm, you can bathe your dog outdoors, in your yard or garden - lather him up and hose him down!
Using a garden hose in winter is fine too but only to hose down your Cocker's paws and legs to rinse away any mud that he may have picked up on his walk. I don't recommend bathing a dog outside in winter - cold water can chill to the bone!
Always use lukewarm water when bathing a dog; common sense tells us that hot water can burn our Cocker Spaniel's skin, but it can also cause dryness and irritation.
Either way, water that's too hot or too cold can make bath-time a miserable experience for him.
You might want to consider buying a special dog bath which can be placed at a level to suit you (and your back!).
The bath can be set up in a garage, or a shed, but the bathroom is ideal; even better if you have a utility room. They're both easy sources of warm water and can be easily cleaned afterwards.
My Cocker, Max, is such a 'muck magnet' and always seems to find the muddiest places to roll in. When he gets really muddy, I carry him through the house (cream carpets!) and dump him into the shower. Here, he can shake himself as much as he wants to - all the muck, soap and water is contained within the shower - keeping the rest of the bathroom clean!
It does mean, however, that I have to take a shower with him!
There are many types of dog shampoos available for bathing a dog; medicated, treatments for fleas or skin conditions, beautifully scented shampoos, shampoos with aloe vera, conditioning shampoos, dry powder shampoos, and many more.
Bathing a dog with a good quality, tear-free, dog shampoo or conditioning shampoo will help to keep his coat clean and healthy looking.
Don't be tempted to use shampoos formulated for humans, except perhaps for no-tears baby shampoos, as all others will be far too harsh for him and may cause skin complaints or allergies.
If you're unsure, or if your pet has skin problems, ask your vet or your groomer to recommend a more gentle shampoo for him.
If you're using a medicated shampoo, only use as prescribed by your vet.
I recommend you dilute the shampoo with water before using it on your Cocker's coat as it will lather up much more easily and will last longer too.
Use an empty bottle to mix it - approximately 10 percent shampoo and 90 percent water.
Don't dilute medicated or flea treatment shampoo, however, as this will reduce the effectiveness of the shampoo. Use as recommended by your vet, or by the instructions on the packaging.
When bathing your dog, a non-slip bath mat will help to stop him from slipping and sliding in the bath and apart from making your pet feel safer it could also stop him from hurting himself.
Have two or three towels nearby; two to dry him off with, and another to wrap him in, or to lay on later, until he's fully dry.
When bathing a dog, it's advisable to keep a couple of treats handy; giving him the occasional treat may help to keep bath time fun and rewarding for your Cocker Spaniel.
A shower hose on your bath will make it easier for you to rinse him thoroughly, but a large plastic jug will do just fine.
If your Cocker Spaniel's coat is heavy, or moults quite a lot, it may be a good idea to invest in a sink-hole protector to catch fur and hair, otherwise you may create a blockage.
Before bathing your Cocker, collect everything you need, towels, shampoo etc., and put them within easy reach of your bath.
After reading my advice on bathing a dog, I hope you'll be more
confident about the whole bath-time process. However, if you're still unsure about
any aspect of how to bathe a dog, I recommend you have a chat with your
groomer who will be more than happy to help.
Learn about grooming your dog here.
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