The Your Dog survival guide to a dirty weekend
Andrea McHugh offers 10 tips to keep your dog clean and tidy on a muddy winter, or even British summer, walk.
As we all know, it doesn’t take many showers to turn a favourite dog walk into a mud bath. And if the rain continues to fall for any length of time, you are left with the problem of dealing with a wet and muddy dog twice a day, which can take the edge off a nice long walk. These 10 ideas will help keep your dog clean and dry.
1. Make cut backs
Trim the hair around your dog’s feet regularly, as the less hair there is around the paws the less mud can become trapped. You can either ask your dog groomer to do this, or invest in a good pair of scissors and have a go yourself.
2. Stock up
Make sure you keep a stack of old towels by the kitchen door and in your car so that you can easily grab them to dry your dog’s feet before he enters the kitchen. Teaching your dog to sit on command and not race ahead of you into the house will give you time to gently dry him off before he goes inside.
In addition, collect old newspapers and use these to line your dog’s crate and the boot of your car to help keep them clean.
3. Have a hose down
As much as your dog may enjoy a cooling wash from the hosepipe in the heat of summer, he will not appreciate the same treatment on a cold winter’s day. If you can’t carry your dog indoors to shower or bathe him, keep a bucket of warm water and a towel at the door ready to wash him down when you come home.
You may also wish to consider asking a plumber to connect an outdoor hot water tap so you are able to wash your dog effectively and easily.
4. Take a shower
A multi-purpose sprayer filled with warm water can be a very useful piece of kit to keep in the car or at home if your dog needs to be washed off.
5. Winter warmers
There is a wide range of winter dog clothing on the market specifically designed to help keep dogs clean. Check out what is new and treat your dog to a couple of fleeces or jumpers to wick away the mud and/or a protective all-in-one body suit to help keep him warm and dry. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to obtain the correct measurements for the coat prior to ordering so you can be sure of getting one that fits correctly.
6. In the bag
A zip-up dog bag is a great invention for helping to dry off your dog as he travels home in the car, or to wear inside his crate to get the worst of the mud off. However, some dogs don’t like the bags and manage to wriggle out, so it may be worth doing some training to help your dog learn to associate the bag with relaxing and keeping still. You can buy these dog bags online or from pet shops. If you like crafts you could even make one yourself using a good quality fl eece.
7. Wipe away
Stock up on packets of disposable pet wipes, as you will be surprised how much mud and dirt these can remove from your dog. Keep a packet in the car and a couple of packets near the kitchen door so you always have some handy. Some wipes have a nice fragrance and can help to get rid of that distinctive wet dog smell! Don’t forget to carry a couple of spare carrier bags to put the dirty wipes in afterwards so that you can take them home to dispose of.
8. Trap it!
A few well-positioned washable mud trapper doormats can save you lots of time, energy, and floor washing. These mats work by wicking away moisture and mud from your dog’s paws as he walks over them. Place the mats inside and outside your front and back doors and train your dog to walk and stand on them as he enters the house.
9. Paws please
Take time to teach your dog to sit on command and tolerate you lifting each of his paws in turn as you clean them. Don’t wait until it is a muddy, wet day to do this. Start by offering lots of treats and rewarding your dog every time you ask for a paw and he lifts it up for you to hold. Gently wipe the paws with a towel or microfibre pet cloth, and check between the toes to make sure no stones or grit are trapped in the pads.
10. Time for bed
Vetbed is a relatively inexpensive but very effective product for helping to dry dogs off. You can buy it in a range of practical colours and place layers of it in your dog’s bed, crate, or the car. Vetbed has great drainage properties and will help to keep your dog warm and comfortable. Once home you can either wash and re-use the Vetbed or simply dry it off and shake to remove any mud.