How often do you bathe your dog?

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Real talk: How often do you bathe your dog?

I feel like there are many opinions about the desired frequency of dog baths, usually tending to either side of the spectrum (tons of baths –> very few baths).

I fall on the “very few baths” side, for a few reasons. One: Pyrrha HATES bath time. Really, serious fear; bath time is the only time she’s ever tried to bite me from fear and anxiety. We’ve taken her to a self-serve grooming salon, and that set-up has been helpful. It’s a lot more quick and painless than trying to wrangle her into a tub here. Two: I kept reading things that said that too many baths were bad for a dog’s skin. Pyrrha was very flaky when we first got her, but her coat is in great shape now (it’s very soft and glossy), and we don’t bathe her much at all. And so I don’t want to mess up that equilibrium. Three: And this is the lazy part of me, but our yard is a swamp right now, and with two rambunctious young dogs, I feel like it’s not worth it, you know? They’re just going to get muddy again… and then I’ll towel them off and brush it out so they can go get muddy again in a few hours.

BUT then I saw this magazine article from a popular veterinarian saying that dogs should be bathed at least once a week. I was agape. Once a week?? Pyrrha and I would both die from anxiety if we had to do that. The vet cited things like dust, dirt, and “pathogens” in a home that irritate a dog’s skin, and so they should be bathed more often to combat such things. Which is the opposite of what I’d read, which argued that too many baths dry a dog’s skin out and gets rid of the important natural oils in their coats.

So, that makes me want to crowd-source this question. How often do you bathe your dog? And give your reasons for the frequency! I’m curious and now wondering if I should switch up how I think about bath time. At the very least, it’s a conversation I want to have with our vet next time we go in!

Getting to know Rainer better

This soulful-eyed boy survived his first grooming experience on Tuesday. It didn’t go so well, but we didn’t have to suffer with him.

Rainer, post bath

We took him to a local groomer (who also has self-serve grooming stations), a local saint, really. He apparently fought her with everything: brushing, shampooing, rinsing, nail clipping, etc. After an hour, she was worn out and he was only about half-bathed. She said she didn’t think this dog had ever been brushed or bathed in his entire life. I believe it!

But he looked SO much better afterward! See:

Rainer, post bath

He smells like a rose blossom now.

Rainer, post bath

Relations with Pyrrha are improving, although they can still be a bit dicey. I’m realizing Pyrrha is also at fault here: She is a HUGE diva!

Calming signals

Yesterday, I turned my back on them for a second in the sunroom, and Pyrrha started screaming. I jumped out of my skin! But I turn and look, and Rainer is not even touching her. Who knows what happened? Maybe he shot her a dirty look, and she freaked out? Ugh. What a queenie.

How do you teach a dog not to overreact to other dogs? Or, more accurately, how do you teach a dog not to be such a drama queen??

Rainer on guard

It’s really heartwarming to note how much his acclimating to us and to our lifestyle. The first few days, he wouldn’t come inside at all; we’d have to go out, catch him, and lasso him indoors. Now? I open the back door and call for him, and guess who comes running?

Stepping pretty

This guy!

Fostering shy dogs is an extra challenge, but I also think it’s more palpably rewarding than fostering “normal,” well-adapted dogs. Shy dogs make so much progress! Yes, it is often small, subtle progress, but it is still so cheering to observe it, to see formerly terrified dogs become able to let their tongue hang out with glee, to approach people for affection, to come running when called. Nothing quite like that feeling.

We are enjoying our time with this gentle boy. Tomorrow night, I’m taking him to a training class called “Fearful Dogs: Rescue Remedies,” a short, one-time session just for shy rescues. We’ll see how he does!

If you are interested in adopting Rainer, fill out an application at Southeast German Shepherd Rescue!

Weekend with Bo (and the ZoomGroom)

I’m trying to get as much time as possible with Bo before he moves to Florida at the end of June, so I kidnapped him for most of this past weekend.

On Saturday, we walked briskly in the rain and then I brought him back to our apartment to test out the ZoomGroom I recently bought. I know it’s not the most effective brush for hair removal, but I had heard good things about its massaging powers and how much dogs seem to like it.

Pile of my fur
Goofball, with a small pile of fur behind him. (We hadn't really started yet.)

When I pulled the ZoomGroom out, he became extremely excited. I think he thought it was a new chew toy. After he calmed down a bit, I was able to use it and he seemed to enjoy the whole process. The brush did pull off a lot of fur (not nearly as much as a Furminator), but it was still a considerable amount for such a seemingly simple product.

Dog hair
My pants, post-grooming session.

My only critique is that the ZoomGroom seemed like it just loosened up a bunch of fur instead of collecting it. After grooming for about 10 minutes, he was just covered in even more loose fur than when we started. I don’t know if I was using it wrong or what, but I definitely won’t be using that indoors again. There was fur flying everywhere!

Bo baby
He's just happy all the time.

Still, he seemed to enjoy the whole session.

On Sunday, we went back to the trail and hiked briefly with Bo and our friends Matt and Liz. I was just daydreaming the whole time about how soon I’d be able to do this with my OWN dog.

Moving in two weeks and one day! But who’s counting?

Wish list: FURminator

The Furminator.

From all of my reading about German shepherds, a warning that is always repeated is that they are SERIOUS shedders. There is little that can be done to prevent this, but the degree of shedding can certainly be lessened with a healthy diet and regular grooming.

I love grooming dogs. This might be weird, but I think it’s a hold-over from my girlhood. I never grew out of the brushing My Little Pony’s tail-phase, apparently. At one point in middle school, I had even decided that my life calling was to be a dog groomer. While I’m glad I didn’t end up doing that, some days, it still really appeals to me.

The one magic tool I have heard of and used is the FURminator. It’s expensive, yes (ranging from $40 to $75, depending on where you shop. FURminators at a discount can be found at PetEdge), but it really, really helps strip off the dead coat–better than most tools. If you haven’t used one before, you will literally be astounded at how much hair comes off. After just a few minutes of using the FURminator, I think you could very easily stuff 10 full-sized pillows with all of the excess hair.

Dogs seem to love it, too! I’ve only used it a few times on different dogs, but they all seem to enjoy the process, even more than standard brushing. It is expensive, but I think it’s worth it. This is one brush that I’ll definitely be investing in once we bring our future dog home.

Do you use the FURminator? Do you have any other magic grooming tools you’d recommend?

Breed Love: Standard poodle

I will clean your face now
Standard poodles on the beach. Source: Flickr

In my family, poodles got a bad reputation–for no fault of their own. My dad liked to talk trash about poodles, judging them to be frilly, sissy dogs who weren’t “real dogs.” For the most part, I confess that I agreed with him. My primary interaction with poodles were of the toy and miniature varieties, which I found to be yippy, demanding, and a little bit gross. But then I met a few standard poodles and my mind started to change about poodles.

Standard poodles, while preserving that pretty poodle appearance, are accomplished canine athletes, guide dogs, and obedience ring champions. Plus, they’re almost hypoallergenic! What’s not to love?

Mother's Day
Standard poodles in black and white. Source: Flickr, user ddlou

I find myself taken with these attractive and highly recognizable dogs. You have to admit that they’re adorable. And loyal and super-smart and athletic. My lack of exposure to standard poodles keeps them from ranking in my top five breeds, but if an opportunity ever presented itself, I would be more than happy to welcome a standard poodle into my home.

Standard poodle links:

Pup Links!

A dog and her cellist. Source: Wanderlusted, via the Life magazine archives.

Dog-related links that interested me this week on the Interwebs…

Why You Should NOT Shave Your Dog for the Summer. Finally! Some intelligent input on this widespread practice. I met an Aussie in the park the other day who was very unfortunate-looking: her owners had shaved her for the summer. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that they hadn’t helped their dog and they’d ruined her coat. (It’s the Dogs’ Life)

VirChewly Indestructible Leashes. Joslin Larson designed these chew-proof leashes for her dogs after she lost a sheltie who chewed through a nylon leash and into oncoming traffic. What do you think? They certainly look indestructible, but also a bit short and possibly uncomfortable. (Dog Milk)

Riot the Australian Shepherd. Just because I can never get enough Aussie puppy in my life. (The Daily Puppy)

Skye Report. Yes, even more Aussie puppy. The photo of the puppy sitting next to the grown dog is so precious. (Apropos Aussies)

When Suggesting Lunch Options Downtown… Love it. (Hipster Puppies)

Having a Dog Who Can Make This Face at You. Wise and funny words from a street dog photographer. (Dogblog)

Nine Uses for Small Dogs. Cute cartoon! (Pawesome)