Many of you are having to bath your dog after every walk and it wasn't until I talked to a new customer yesterday that I realised that not everyone knows how to do this properly.

So at the risk of teaching grandma suck eggs, here goes!

Water Temperature

This is not just vital for the comfort of the dog. If you get the temperature wrong, the dog won't enjoy it - and you'll get soaked when the dog shakes all over you. The correct temperature is the one that makes your dog smile when its bathed! If its too hot or too cold the dog will squirm, wriggle and shake. This temperature will be different for nearly every dog, you have to work it out for yourself.

NB: when a dog is full of adrenalin on a walk it will happily fling itself into a freezing lake. By the time you've driven home the excitement levels have dropped considerably; hosing it down with cold water is plain cruel. Have a look at having a "hot tap" installed outside so you can hose off with warm water.


If you're bathing the dog every day, it needs to be a very VERY good shampoo. The kind you get from the pet-shop just won't do. Your dog's skin has the same PH as ours, but only 7 layers of skin whereas we have 26 and are therefore slightly more resilient to chemical abuse. Thats why we changed to Wildwash. It can be bought from us, or here.

Whatever you choose to use, remember:

Shampoo the dog starting from tail and ending at its neck. I know, everyone starts at the head. Bear with me on this one.

Apply the shampoo to the dog on a Shower Puff because this spreads the shampoo evenly so you don't get a thick smear of it down the dog's spine and no suds on the dog's feet at all. You'll use/waste a lot less shampoo with this method.

Massage thoroughly all over. Remember to go in between the toes where the webbing traps mud in the fur and feel in between the pads for packed mud or fur.

Then do the ears; massage the ear flaps being careful not to get water into the ear canal and apply shampoo to the top of the head.

Finally do the muzzle and around the eyes.

NOW RINSE!! If you got shampoo into the eyes by accident (and this can happen if the dog isn't properly secured and it wriggles) you're rinsing it out pretty smartly - if you'd started at the head then the poor dog has shampoo in its eyes for a whole unnecessary 5-10 minutes before you start rinsing.

You need to rinse until the dog is squeaky clean. Part the fur and look for soap. Nothing is as good as retained soap bubbles to make your dog nice and itchy. Rinsing water also has to be warm, cold water does not flush out the grease.

At Centre Stage we repeat this process UNTIL THE DOG IS CLEAN. Sometimes that's 2 shampoos only, but if the dog lives outside, or is particularly foul it can take four or five shampoos to get it clean.

This is because the shampoo molecule is like a tadpole. The head grabs the dirt, the tail grabs the water - so the dirt gets flushed out of the coat when you rinse the dog. The head can only grab a bit of dirt - so you need to repeat over and over until every bit of dirt has been grabbed. Its time consuming if you've got a huge hairy beastie.

A dirty dog takes a lot longer to dry. You're either tied to the bath or tied to the hairdryer - your choice...

When the dog is clean you can blot it dry using an Acquamat Dog Towel. DO NOT RUB a fleece or wool coat. This creates knots, tangles and matts in a jiffy.

When 99% dry, all dogs benefit from a liberal squirt of detangler. It does exactly what it says on the tin - detangling, creating lustre and shine and its pleasantly fragranced. It coats each hair and prevents it picking up so much mud next time. Our local supplier is Tally Ho Farm in Crouch Lane, Winkfield.

Comb it through the coat. Then finish off with a hair dryer. There are lots of relatively inexpensive dog blasters on the market now: Make sure you buy one with the FLAT nozzle because the round ended ones whip long hair up into an instant spectacular knot, where as the flat nozzle can actually be used to blast knots out of fleece and wool coats. (I can, and am, very happy to show you how to do this).

Fleece coated dogs cannot EVER be left muddy and wet to "dry off" so you can brush the mud out. This method is 100% guaranteed to result in a shavedown sooner rather than later. This method ONLY works with short hair coated breeds such as Labradors, Beagles and Boxers. Don't leave them in a draught and make sure the room they're in is heated.

If this is all a bit of a faff, you might want to invest in a dog jumper or trouser suit and wash that after every walk instead - this is the route I'm probably going to go down with my toy poodle and my shih tzu.

These dog jumpers come very highly recommended, and the trouser suit from Groomers-Online is also a good bet (I use Groomers-Online quite a lot and they're very good).