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Washing your dog at home before a groom: pros and cons

Updated: Jun 9

In my previous post I outlined the different types of drying equipment used in the grooming salon. This follow-up post discusses the pros and cons of pre-bathing and air-drying your dog at home, before coming in for a groom.

PROS of washing and drying at home before the groom

  • It's a fantastic approach for anxious dogs

    • Bathed and dried in a familiar, reassuring environment

    • Splits the groom - less stress in one go

    • Less time at the groomers, which can have negative associations for a fearful dog

    • No noisy and whooshy dryers

    • Happy dog 👍🏽

Poh, the Chihuahua, is washed at home before coming for her groom as she is a nervous and reactive dog
Poh the Chihuahua relaxing after a groom

This is Poh, a long-haired Chihuahua. According to her owners she went for a nail clip during Covid and came back highly aversive to ever being touched by strangers, or to being groomed again. I have witnessed her aversion in person, as the first time I tried to groom her (including a bath and dry) she responded so severely, I mentally nicknamed her the Killer Rabbit from Monty Python. Without a doubt she is the most reactive dog I currently groom. Now, when she comes, she is always bathed and dried at home, and she calmly tolerates an all over scissor trim on her coat, and a lovely cuddle afterwards.

CONS of washing and drying at home before the groom

  • The finish is less polished than with a professional dry

    • This is most noticeable on curly-coated dogs, such as doodles.

    • Remember Maisy, from my previous post? Her coat is so smooth. That's only possible with a dryer-tolerant dog.

    • Tbh tho', if you are more interested in aesthetics over your dog's emotional wellbeing, you are unlikely to be coming to a low-stress groomer such as myself.

  • The dog's coat still needs to be brushed thoroughly, ideally at home, as clippers can only pass through a coat that is completely tangle-free.

    • The first thing I do when grooming a pre-bathed dog is give it a quick brush it all over as clippers will catch and pull on even a single knot.

    • Owners are responsible for proper line-brushing at home. Some people like to brush their dog in the bath with conditioner in the coat, before rinsing. Some like to brush their dog after the bath using a detangling spray, brush and comb. But you have to brush your dog, going right down to the root to remove all the tangles, from every part of the body.

    • Many dogs fuss when being brushed, and owners may feel a sense of needing to 'get the job done' for my sake. If you feel that brushing your pre-washed dog is too much of a task for you or your dog, don't push it. Of course, I will brush them thoroughly, but this obviously adds time back onto the groom. If it's the same amount of time as bathing and drying would have taken, it doesn't save money, but it might still be the lowest stress option, e.g. if your dog is aversive to the hairdryer.

  • Washing at home - sometimes the dog's coat isn't properly clean.

    • I never complain or criticise, and I always help and educate, but it's fair to say that sometimes a pre-bathed dog still has dirty parts. Especially the face, ears, neck, paws and, ahem, bum. This adds wear and tear on the equipment and I do charge a little extra for that. It's easily remedied by getting your fingers into the coat and giving it good scrub with the shampoo.

In short, pre-bathing, drying and brushing a dog is a great option for anxious dogs, and with a little coaching from me, and effort from owners, doing thorough prep at home can reduce grooming time and sometimes save a little money too.

Here are some pics of Ying-Ying, a cavapoochon puppy; Willow, a cavachon, and Milo, my cockapoo. For different reasons, they were all bathed and dried at home before their groom. You can see the finished is more textured and less polished, but they all look lovely and happy, and I work with owners to make sure that their experience of being groomed is top priority.

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