Shampooing Your Dog — Making it Fun and Frequent

On my NPR radio show DOG TALK® this past week I interviewed humorist Merrill Markoe, several of whose amazing videos will be featured in the Dog Film Festival October 3rd. I invited her to read one of the fall-down-funny essays from her book What the Dogs Taught Me. “Showering with Your Dog” has many hilarious tips (about what you should wear and how to deal with the inevitable fact that a dog can find those places in a shower where the water doesn’t reach!) and it was a reminder that bathing your dog can actually be pleasant for both of you.

Washing your dog (whether in the shower with a big dog, or in the sink with a little one) is gratifying to you because you can see all the dead hair and dirt go down the drain. Afterward you get to stroke a silky smooth, squeaky clean dog (at least until she finds something else to roll in!)

Even though you might not think a dog would get much of a kick out of being wet down, soaped up, rubbed all over and rinsed and dried off, it can actually be a great bonding opportunity. With regular practice, and the clear intention to make it a pleasurable experience, you’ll find your dog relax and learn to enjoy all that physical contact with you.

The other thing that can make it really nice is to choose a dog-specific shampoo that has skin-soothing properties and is not soap-based. By doing that, you don’t run the risk of drying or irritating your pet’s skin, and can give a bath every couple of weeks as a regular part of caring for your dog. Many dog owners have the mistaken belief that frequent bathing is bad for their dog, when just the opposite is true and logical: all sorts of dirt and even allergens can build up on your dog’s coat and skin, and washing them away will make life nicer for both of you. Other people may have heard they cannot bathe their dog when they have put on a topical repellent against ticks and fleas, but that is not true of a good brand like Vectra, which remains on your dog’s skin protectively even with swimming and bathing (as long as you avoid harsh soap or detergent-based products that would strip off the protective oils).

You can actually turn a bathing chore into a spa experience for all involved with Halo’s Cloud Nine Herbal Shampoo — it is gentle on the dog’s skin and coat, and is an olfactory treat for both of you! This shampoo lives up to its name because botanical oils are “turned into soap” (the fancy word for it is “saponified”) and is made entirely of an herbal infusion of botanical oils and extracts. Here’s the entire ingredient list: Saponified Oils of Coconut, Olive and Jojoba, Tea Tree Oil, Rosemary Oil, Sage Oil Cedarwood Oil, Peppermint Oil, Sweet Orange Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Pine Needle Oil, Aloe Vera, Rosemary Extract (as a preservative). Doesn’t that sound yummy? It reminds me of the old television commercial for Herbal Essence in which a girl with long hair gets into the shower and becomes ecstatic from the pleasurable scent and experience of washing her hair with fragrant herbs.

This is a picture of my new Weimaraner puppy Wanda and her first sink bath. She is already big enough to come into the shower with her big sister Maisie and me. (But I am not sharing a photo of that!)

—Tracie Hotchner
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