Bathing & Drying a Long Coated Dog
by Dorothy Kendall, Orlane Lhasa Apsos

There is no one 'right' way to bathe and dry your dog, but there are LOTS of wrong ways! In this article I have tried to describe what works for me.......but it is very open to adaptation, and what works for one person may not work for another. I am always open to learning new ways.

Grooming table at your height to avoid backache!
Suitable brushes & combs:
I prefer PIN brushes, and never use slicker brushes. I have a long tailed comb and a comb with long & short prongs.
Shampoo & conditioner
Jugs, spray bottles
Dryer – if possible a stand dryer which will leave both your hands free.

1.Prepare your dog
This is very important. You should never try to wash a dog who has not been prepared – you could do more harm than good. Dogs will be dogs and unless they are kept in cages 24/7 they will get a few mats and knots. Put the dog on the table and start to go through the coat with your fingers. Do NOT brush or comb – just use your fingers. If you find a mat or knot, use your fingers to very gently, and very slowly tease it apart. There are products available to help you – but I have found that they just make the whole operation more difficult and slippery. Go over the entire dog like this until you are sure that there are no more knots.

If I have to use my clipper (stomach, penis areas, anus, ears etc etc) I personally prefer to do this before I bathe. The skin seems easier to shave with the dirt still on it! Any residual hairs will be washed away when bathing and not left to make the dog scratch.

Put the dog in the basin or bath and soak well in warm water. Make sure the coat is thoroughly wet through. Dilute your shampoo in a large jug and gently pour all over the coat – head last, avoiding the eyes. Do NOT rub the shampoo into the coat. This will cause knots when you come to dry. Slowly massage the shampoo DOWN through the wet coat from roots to ends. Take your time and don't forget the legs, tail and under the tail. Put some shampoo on your hand and make sure to wash the stomach and chest area, and in boys all around the penis. When you are sure that the shampoo is regularly distributed, you can start to rinse. Use the same downward movement on the hair, guide the rinsing water from the roots to the end – Do NOT EVER rub, as you would your own hair! Repeat the shampooing and rinsing process again. Before you use your conditioner – you must be 100% sure that no shampoo remains, or your dog will get dandruff, and will start to scratch – which in turn will break his coat.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to condition your dog. I like to use a spray bottle to ensure even and thorough coverage of the coat. If the conditioner is to be rinsed out – do it thoroughly.

Now WRAP your dog in a big towel – DO NOT RUB him with the towel! Gently WIPE his coat with the towel, again in a downward direction to avoid any tangling. If the hair is very long, I sometimes go around it systematically squeezing some of the water out with the towel.

Put your dog, still wrapped in his towel, on the table. So that he does not catch cold, unwrap him little by little and very carefully take his hair, section by section and brush through. This time start at the END of the hair and work towards the ROOTS. If you find a tangle, separate it with your fingers as before NEVER with the brush. Wet hair damages easily as it is very elastic – so do NOT pull when brushing.

Only when the whole coat has been brushed through should you start drying. I like to section off my coat as I brush it through before drying. I use the little clips you can buy for your own hair, with jaw-like grips (I don't know if they have a name!) and I tend to divide of the coat into about 6 or 10 sections. Sometimes I start drying at the head section and other times the tail – it really depends on the coat and the dog. If a dog is frightened by the dryer, it is best to start at the tail and he will have become used to the noise and the sensations by the time you reach his head. Remember that a dryer to a young dog, is a pretty scary monster – so be gentle and reassure him with your hands and voice. But be firm, as he must understand that there is no escape until the job is done!

So try to point the dryer in the direction of the hair and brush through – roots to tip – as you dry each section. Don't forget feet, but remember that many dogs have sensitive feet so use your fingers instead of the brush if your dog is sensitive in any particular area. If you dry his coat slowly, section by section, brushing the coat from root to tip, you should have a very even looking coat at the end. If you point the dryer in any direction, the coat will blow everywhere – and your dog will probably have more knots than when you started! So be very careful with your dryer!! Also do not put it too close to hair as heat damages delicate hair.

When your dog is thoroughly dry you can then trim feet etc

At the end of this long, boring and sometimes frightening process (for the dog!) I always make a fuss of my dog and give him a treat. That way, next time, he hopefully will remember the treat and won't hate being bathed and dried quite so much!

The secrets to good grooming are
1. Little and often. Keep the dog groomed daily and the coat will not get as many knots and mats, which cause breakage.
2.NEVER be in a hurry – haste can make you try a short cut like trying to brush out a knot which breaks hair.
3.Ask questions of people with well groomed dogs!!! They may not pass on all their secrets – but you may learn a tip or two.

Remember, this is just a guide – practice makes perfect and you will eventually find the right way for YOU and YOUR DOG.