"Life isn't long enough to do all you could accomplish. And what a privilege even to be alive. In spite of all the pollutions and horrors, how beautiful this world is.
Supposing you only saw the stars once every year. Think what you would think. The wonder of it!"--Tasha Tudor

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Corgi Grooming 101: The Bath

It is a good idea to get your Corgi used to taking baths from the time she is little, whether or not you will show your Corgi in conformation dog shows. You can surely send her to the groomer, but why not try and do it yourself? Do it yourself and in no time you can buy your own grooming table and maybe even a forced air dryer with the money you will save. If you don't have them already, you may want to start designating some towels as 'dog towels.' It is handy to have a bunch of towels you can use not only for bathing and grooming but to put by the door when they come in from the rain or perhaps to put inside a crate or to clean up accidents. Find a shelf or a basket or Rubbermaid container that you can keep the dog towels in. When you need them you won't have to go searching and try and decide whether or not you should use your good towels from the bathroom. Keep an eye on how 'ratty' they get. When they become too dingy or ripped, I take a scissor to them and have instant cleaning rags. Do keep a couple of nice special fluffy ones just for when they get out of the tub and to put on the grooming table while drying. You don't need to wrap your wet dog in a holey towel. Save those for dirty paws and clean up.

When evaluating your Corgi (see previous post) did you notice anything unusual about their skin? If there is any type of persistent itching, there can be many causes. It can simply be that they are blowing coat and the dead fur is annoying. It can be dry skin. It can be an allergy or rash. It can be a tick or fleas (you will probably see flea 'dirt' rather than fleas. Look for tiny reddish-brown flecks in the fur close to the skin. ) I currently use Frontline Plus on my Corgis. I hate the idea of putting this on them, but I hate the idea of them getting a tick or flea borne disease even more. Does your dog have a 'waxy' dirty feel anywhere deep near his skin? You may want to use a drop of diluted dawn or palmolive dishwashing liquid to break this down before shampooing on that area. If there is any type of rash or suspicious skin condition, call your vet. They can usually recommend a medicated or oatmeal shampoo to put the skin right again and help you find the source of the condition.

Pre-bath: Gather your supplies. Put the towels near the tub. Put the zoom groom scrubber, baby shampoo, dog shampoo(s) and conditioner (if you are using it) near the tub. Dilute your shampoo with a little water into a little plastic bowl or something easy to use and non-breakable. Plug in your rinse ace hose or get a plastic pitcher for rinsing if you don't have a rinse ace yet. Will you be on your knees for the bath? Those foam gardener's pads work wonders to cushion your knees while you are washing your Corgi. What are you wearing? You are about to get wet and hairy. Dress appropriately. You can buy grooming smocks or vinyl coated waterproof aprons if you like. Usually for this part, I'm in a tee shirt and jeans. Since I have long hair, I put it in a pony tail or bandanna to get it out of the way :) Put a few cookies in your pockets.

Before the bath, you will want to get as much dead coat out as possible. This is meant to be done fairly quickly. Obviously if you are starting to or in the middle of a full blown coat, it will take a bit more combing before you get into the tub. Start with the undercoat rake (as shown in the photo, previous post) and working from the neck, use the rake to pull up as much dead undercoat as possible by using long strokes from the neck to the rear. You may have to stop every few strokes to remove the fur from your rake. Please don't buy those metal 'loop' rakes with the sharp points to perform this task. I can't believe that they don't scratch the skin and damage the coat. Keep going around the withers/shoulders/fairy saddle area and down each side. Go through the pants. Lift the tail if you have a Cardigan. Go back around the neck and down the chest. When you feel like your rake is pulling up less and less fur, go back and do the same thing with your greyhound comb and finally quickly with one of your brushes. Again, this is not line-combing, we are just trying to get as much loose fur off before the bath as quickly as possible here. If you have a fluffy, it is especially important to try and comb out any tangles now as well. If there are any you can't get out, take a comb with you into the tub and after shampooing you can use conditioner to help you comb them out before rinsing.

Put your dog down and give her a treat. We want grooming to be a happy time. Once she's on the floor, sweep up all of the loose fur you have on the table and on the floor. You don't want to start blowing this around when it is time to start drying. Put a nice fresh towel on the table with your combs and brushes. Put an extra towel on the table. Have a bunch of q-tips and your alcohol within reach. We will use that on the ears after the bath. Plug in your dryer. Use a safe UL listed extension cord if you need to. Go over to the tub and turn the water on to a nice warm temperature. There are many people who will tell you to bathe your dog in only cool water. I personally think the dogs are much more comfortable being bathed in warm water. If they are about to blow coat, a few very warm baths work wonders to get it all out and start new growth coming in. Make sure the drain is open. We are not trying to fill up the tub. Turn off the water, take your Corgi out to pee and then bring her into the tub.

Give her a cookie before you turn on the water. Start at the back and work your way up to the head to wet him thoroughly. Remember, as soon as you wet his head he will shake it. Brace yourself :) Really wet him down. Run your hands in the opposite direction of the fur to make sure the undercoat is getting wet. If you have a fluffy, they sometimes have longer top coat but less undercoat than a normal coated dog and will get completely wet faster. Sometimes. Once they are wet, I like to do the head first and get it over with. Apply baby shampoo to the head between the ears and work it all the way down around the entire head and muzzle. Try not to get any soap in the eyes or water in the ears. Really use your fingertips to massage the shampoo in here. Go under the chin, up around the jaw, the backs of the ears. Rinse well with warm water, rubbing with your hand to get all of the soap out. Wet your washcloth and ring it out tightly. Use it to gently wipe the corners of the eyes. Rinse it. Rinse it and ring it out again. Wrap it around your finger and use it to clean inside the ears. Do not push anything (dirt) further into the ear. Only pull the cloth from the inside out. Remove any dirt you can easily remove from the folds. We will get the rest when he is out of the tub. For now, let the rung out washcloth help you to 'dry' the inside of the ear to make sure there is no water inside. Let him shake his head before you proceed to the rest of the body.

Pour your diluted dog shampoo over her back. Use your fingertips to start massaging the shampoo into the fur. Hold each paw in your hand as you wash it, rubbing it top to bottom with your fingertips. Go all the way up each leg, under the chest and belly, around the withers and stifle. Take special care around her pants and private parts. Make sure you wash off any poop residue that may be clinging to that area. Use your washcloth if you need to. A word of caution here: While you want to get this area clean, you do not want to over-do it with the soap and cause a urinary tract infection. Whether they are boys or girls, be sensible, use very diluted shampoo and rinse carefully. For the intact show boys, you never want to use too hot water on the family jewels as it can affect his sperm count. Remember to keep the water temperature the same as you would use on a baby and you will be just fine.

Rinse the shampoo off with nice warm water. Don't go too crazy here because we are going to repeat. You don't have to do the head again. This time, if you are using purple shampoo for the whites, now is the time to apply it. I do not dilute this shampoo. Pour it directly on to whatever whites you need to brighten up (paws, chest, pants?) Massage it in well until it is nice and soapy and let it sit there according to directions on the bottle. It may take a couple of baths to see a difference if you are dealing with pink or yellow staining on the fur. Now, using your diluted regular shampoo, get your zoom groom and start massaging from the neck to the pants and all around and underneath your dog. If it accumulates fur, just remove it and keep going. Now rinse. Rinsing is the most important part of the bath. Start at the head and rubbing and rinsing, work your way back to the tail. Put the hose right on to the skin and really rinse well. Go under the ears again, under the chin, get the chest and the under-belly. Lift each leg and rinse and rub well under the armpits. Go gently around the private parts and get the pants and tail if you have one. Go around the thigh muscles, down to the hocks, lift and rinse each paw. All rinsed? Soap all out? Good. Now go back and rinse again. Check those 'armpits' again. It is where most people miss getting the shampoo out. If you are trying to bathe without the benefit of a spray hose, you are going to have to be extra diligent in soap removal. If you are using a conditioner or cream rinse, now is the time. Follow the directions on the bottle. I would probably opt for not putting it under the dog, just on the top and sides. If you have a fluffy, always use conditioning rinse after shampooing. If I am bathing a Corgi for the show ring, I skip the conditioner because a correct Corgi coat should not be extremely soft. Rinse well, again. When everything is out of the coat, I give a very very quick (like 10 second) rinse with cold water just to close the hair cuticle on the top coat which leaves it less susceptible to damage. ( I do that with my own hair as well.) Shut off the water, take your towel and draping it over her back and head, wrap up your baby, lift her out of the tub and give her a cookie.

Using that towel, start rubbing her dry. Start with her ears and head and work your way down and all around. Rub and dry each paw and under her belly and chest. Put that towel down and get your other dry one and keep going. If you have someone who can help you, let them stay with the dog and continue towel drying while you go and rinse off and dry your shampoo bottles, rinse the walls and tub and tidy everything back up in there so you will only have the drying area to clean up when you are done.

I will share my blow-drying procedure in the next post, but before that I want to tell you how I clean their ears. Take a q-tip and dip it into the alcohol. Carefully clean out inside the folds of each ear, taking care to only pull the dirt (if there is any) up and out rather than pushing it in. We want our ears to always be nice and clean and dry, always. The alcohol is drying and I find it good for this task. If your Corgi's ears have an unusual amount of dirt in them and after you remove it the ear looks particularly raw and red, I would use hydrogen peroxide rather than alcohol right now just because the alcohol might sting. Use the alcohol tomorrow instead. Clean and dry ears are healthy ears and makes them less susceptible to infections and ear mites.

Upcoming grooming posts: Drying, line combing, nails.

Still with me? :) -CS ^..^


ClassyChassy said...

Very good instructions - you make it sound like BIG FUN!!! Waiting for the next installment!

Anna M said...

Just ordered my frontline today. We didn't have fleas in Idaho so this is new for them. Spendy too but I don't want them to get any fleas *shudder*

Ramute/ Europe said...

Thanks for so deep instructions, we are waiting next lesson:-)

Karen in Maryland said...

Your picture of the corgi getting a bath is so cute. You are motivating me to be more organized at bath time. I am also asking my son to get and install a rinse ace for me for mother's day. I especially found the ear care section useful. Thank you so much for taking the time to post these instructions!!

Jenna Z said...

I was just telling Sully he was getting a bath after the rainy season was over (he chased a cat through the garden and got dirt and grass stains on his legs!) so I will wait patiently for your next installment! Right now I just let him dry himself, he rubs all over towels that we put on the floor but I would like to use the drying time for undercoat removal!

Anonymous said...

Your instructions are excellent. Thank you for mention of the cardigan tail. We have two pemmies and a cardi. The cardi takes longer to wash due to the size and yes the tail!

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Corgi is so adorable. Really you love him so much.
Thank you for posting. I learned something from you.