How often your Australian Shepherd requires bathing depends on where you live, how much time he spends outside, and how dirty he gets. Like kids, some Aussies have a knack for getting dirtier than others. A working dog may require bathing on a regular basis, say, every 4 to 6 weeks or so. Aussies who spend a great deal of time indoors may require bathing once every 3 or 4 months. No cut-and-dried formula is applied.
Most Australian Shepherds enjoy the water and are quite amenable to baths. In hot climates, you may be able to bathe your dog outdoors with a garden hose, provided the water is not too cold. Otherwise, a rubber mat on the bottom of a bathtub or shower stall will provide secure footing and prevent him from slipping. Don’t forget slippery floors either. A rubber mat or plenty of dry towels on the bathroom floor will prevent your Aussie from slipping and injuring himself as he jumps out of the tub. Consider also investing in a grooming apron – or a raincoat!
Aussies love two things: shaking when they are wet, and rubbing their wet bodies against your legs or any other nearby surface including walls, floors, and furniture. So have plenty of towels on hand for cleaning up and drying off. Invest in a screen that fits over the drain opening, which helps keep your dog’s excess hair from clogging your drains.
Unless your dog has a specific skin condition, such as dry, flaky, itchy skin, choose a good quality shampoo and conditioner designed specifically for dogs – something non-toxic and shampoo-based, rather than detergent-based so as not to strip the hair of its natural oils. Many shampoos and conditioning products are available, from all-purpose to medicating to herbal to color enhancing, so do not be shy about asking for help when choosing shampoos and conditioners.
How To Bathe Your Australian Shepherd
Saturate your Aussie’s coat, undercoat, and skin with warm water. This can take some time if your Aussie has a thick coat. Apply a dab or two of shampoo and scrub away. Work the shampoo into the coat with your fingers or a rubber massage tool designed specifically for dogs. Scrub from head to toe, being careful to avoid the eye area. Don’t overlook his belly, the inside of his hind legs, under his arms, and behind his ears.
To clean around an Aussie’s eyes, wipe the area with a damp cloth. You can use a small dab of tearless shampoo to gently wash around the head and eye area. Even though it is tearless, avoid getting any in your dog’s eyes. Rinse his entire body thoroughly with tepid or lukewarm water until the water runs clear. Rinsing is the most important part because an Australian Shepherd’s coat can hold a lot of suds, and residual shampoo can irritate the skin, as well as leave a dull film on the coat.
If necessary, shampoo and rinse again to be sure your dog is squeaky clean. If you are using a coat conditioner or skin moisturizer, follow the directions carefully. If possible, let your dog shake off any extra water, then towel dry him thoroughly.
Take care to protect him from any drafts or getting chilled. This is especially important for young puppies, aging Australian Shepherds, and pregnant ones. If you live where temperatures are high, and your Aussie is likely to air dry quickly, blow-drying is usually not necessary. If you choose to complete the process by blow-drying, hold the dryer at least 6 inches away from the coat, keep the dryer in motion, and use a low or cool setting to avoid damaging the coat or burning your dog’s skin.
Wet Aussies love to roll in whatever is handy, be it grass, dirt, mud, or gravel. Consider keeping him sequestered until he is dry. Otherwise, before you can say squeaky clean, he will happily undo all your hard work!