All dogs need to have a bath from time to time to help to keep them clean and remove dirt and smells from the coat, but whether your dog loves baths or hates them and whether you bathe them at home or take them to a groomer, every dog needs to be cleaned up occasionally!
If you bathe and groom or even clip and trim your own dog at home, it is important to ensure that your dog is comfortable with this and doesn’t find the whole process frightening or stressful, as this can lead your dog to dread bath time and make life very difficult for the both of you.
However, cleaning your dog’s face effectively and if necessary, clipping or trimming the fur on their faces can be a challenge, and you should never dunk your dog underwater in the tub or place a shower stream directly into their face. This can make washing and tidying up your dog’s face rather difficult, particularly if they have had their head in a pile of earth or have otherwise gotten filthy, or if they suffer from tear staining that requires regular attention.
In this article, we will share some instructions on how to wash and groom a dog’s face safely and comfortably, in such a way as is designed to be as stress-free for your dog as possible. Read on to learn more.
If you’re bathing your dog’s whole body, it is important to allow them to keep their face fully out of the water and only use a shower head or other attachment up as high as the dog’s chin and along the back to the level below their ears.
Don’t ever spray your dog’s face with water or otherwise saturate it, and always keep water and soap well away from their eyes, as well as using a non-irritant shampoo so that it does not cause pain if your dog does accidentally end up in the suds.
Using a wet flannel to wipe your dog’s face is a better way to proceed than soaking their fur, and a flannel offers more control than using a sponge.
Before you get your dog’s face wet, you should first use your fingers to remove any tangles and to part the hair away from clumps of mud or dirt, to make it easier for the water to penetrate without soaking your dog.
Work from just beneath the eyes downwards, and don’t forget to untangle and wash under your dog’s chin too. When it comes to cleaning around the head and ears, again, use a damp flannel that will not cause water to run into your dog’s eyes, and also, keep the water out of the ears.
If your dog’s face is very dirty or stained with something like grass or oil, getting their face properly clean can take a while, but you should not try to rush the process by adding lots of soap and water! Try to remove as much loose dirt or debris as possible by hand, and be prepared to wipe or mop at dirty areas several times until the stain starts to loosen up. You may also want to use a detangling agent for dogs and leave this in the fur for a while to work, to make the process easier.
In some cases, you may not be able to remove a stubborn or deep stain all in one go, so try using wipes and gently cleaning your dog’s face a couple of times a day after the bath has removed the worst of it until the stain goes.
It is not a good idea to use a motorised clipper on your dog’s face, as the noise and sensation of the clipper and its close proximity to your dog’s eyes and ears can be very alarming for them. If your dog struggles or pulls away whilst you are clipping around their face, you may inadvertently clip the wrong area or worse, injure your dog.
Don’t use the clipper on the face itself, instead trimming facial hair by hand if appropriate.
Some dog breeds have very hairy faces, including a long fringe of fur that may hang over the forehead and eyes if this is not trimmed back or held away from the face, like the Old English sheepdog.
If you trim this fringe, do it by hand, and use scissors that are not so sharp that they will make it easy to nick or cut your dog, particularly if your dog moves or jerks back. Make sure that your dog is well restrained when trimming the face so that their range of movement is limited, and also, ensure that they are calm and not overly stressed or het up.
Trimming the face can be difficult because of the inherent risks of using scissors on your dog’s face, and also, the close proximity of your hands to their mouths if your dog takes exception to things and snaps! Muzzle your dog if necessary, but try to ensure that you don’t attempt to trim your dog’s face when they are het up or very fidgety, and only attempt to trim your dog at home if you are confident in how to do it, and your dog’s reactions.