Tuesday, 21 August 2012

how to give a Lapphund a bath

Now that the Riemu puppies are 6 months old, their owners might find it useful to have a step-by-step guide to bathing a Lapphund.  I've conducted 1 or 2 Lapphund baths, but do let me know if I miss anything out.

If possible, put a nylon or other waterproof collar on your dog.  Or an old collar you don't mind getting soaked.  If your dog will stand in the bath without being held, take the collar off altogether.

As far as shampoo goes, I like Doreen Paige products.  I use one for Harsh Black Coats that enhances the depth and shine of dark coats without making them soft.  I also have Royal Jelly & Evening Primrose Oil Shampoo which is said to be "coat-encouraging".  Needless to say, I did not use this one on Taika.  There are also blue coloured shampoos designed to enhance white coats, and if you have a well-behaved dog who will happily stand in the tub, it's worth the small additional effort to use one of these on the white bits like paws, chest and bottom, for example.  
  • Collect at least 3 clean, dry dog towels.  Wear something you don't mind getting covered in dog water & hair.  Naked works well.
  • Close the bathroom door so your dog doesn't make a break for freedom before being towelled off - or, even worse, covered in soap.
  • Put 1 towel in the bathtub, spray with shower to dampen.
  • Lift dog carefully into bathtub with paws on wet towel.  Hold by collar until settled.  If necessary, be firm about the fact that he has to stay there.
  • Keep one hand in the collar to keep the dog from moving or trying to jump out.  Using the shower attachment, thoroughly wet the dog's belly and legs (I prefer doing it in sections).  Use your 3rd hand* to smoosh the water through the coat (that's a technical term).  i.e. massage the fur firmly using small circular movements to manipulate the water through the fur. 
  • Turn off water, pour shampoo into your hand, rub your hands together and massage into the dog's fur.  Be sure to cover every inch, especially right into the "armpits" and between toes.  This will allow you to discover any mats, seeds, ticks or other problems.
  • When the area has been thoroughly shampooed, turn on the shower, taking care to adjust the water temperature away from the dog. 
  • Rinse all the shampoo out of the fur, using the smoosh to "push" the shampoo out.  Then rinse it again.  When you're absolutely certain there is no shampoo left, rinse it one more time.
  • Repeat the wetting, shampooing and rinsing (don't forget smooshing) to the rear and tail area, then the body and back, then the neck and head. 
  • Do the head last because it is getting this area wet that makes it absolutely irresistible for dogs to shake the water out of their coat.  Up until getting their head wet, they are relatively comfortable.  
  • To wet and rinse the head, tip the dog's head gently back and be careful that no water gets into the ears by covering each one with your hand as you go.  
  • Turn off the water.  Cover the dog with a dry towel and give a good rub, especially the face and neck.
  • With dog still covered in towel, carefully lift him out of tub and stand him on another towel on the floor. 
  • Stand back because he will really need to shake now.
  • Towel dry as much as possible - don't forget the paws and tail.
  • Remove the collar (if you use one) until the fur is dry and brushed.

* You can see where a second person would be a big help in this adventure.  If you're on your own, be sufficiently firm with the dog and you should be able to withdraw your hand from the collar.  But keep a watchful eye for any body language that suggests he's about to try and escape.


Use lukewarm water - too warm would be very mean and, believe it or not, they don't seem to like it cold either.

Wet the head last and carefully protect the ears from water.

Smoosh the water into the coat - and the shampoo out of the coat.  It makes a big difference to how easy or difficult it is to penetrate through to the skin.  Shampoo can be very difficult to get out of the thick fur - this type of manipulation with your fingers really will help.

Rinse, rinse and rinse again.

Some of my Facebook friends have made excellent points that are worth adding here.
1.  Susan, mum of Tippi, uses an old rubber bath mat to stop the dogs slipping.  I have no such useful item, but it's a great idea.
2.  Mary suggested diluting the shampoo in a litre of water before applying to the dog.  I should have mentioned that my shampoo is also pre-diluted.  Most shampoos are unnecessarily thick and strong and can be safely diluted and still do a good job.  Other shampoos (like the Doreen Paige ones) actually have dilution instructions on the label.

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