I had only before clipped his feet and around his eyes between salon visits. We had hosed him off a couple times when needed. But bathe, shampoo and clip him completely? Never.
Clip then bath
“Worth a try,” I said. I gave him a preliminary clip with scissors first. I figured it would be easier to wash him without long hair in the way. So an afternoon of clipping while he lay on his side. Then I had to get him to turn over to clip the other side.
Next day, bath time. A length of hose borrowed from some other plumbing in the house to go over the faucet. Jim in the tub awaiting Leo as I lift him in. Leo’s feet scrabble wildly but he gets a foothold. Charlie, the other dog who detests baths, kept very quiet and far away outside the bathroom door. He hoped we wouldn’t notice him but he wanted to see what was going on. (His ploy didn’t work: he got bathed next.)
Leo was very good and stayed still for us. He slipped a few times. We realized we should have got a rubber mat for the tub so he could get a better grip. With his hair shorter, it was easier to shampoo him and to rinse him thoroughly.
Jim lifted him out to me, I wrapped a towel around him then let him go to shake himself. It was a mild sunny day so he air-dried. While not ideal for poodle hair, we thought it was best to not torture him with a hair dryer. I have only a small hand-held dryer, not a powerful one like groomers use. Leo doesn’t like dryers and it would have taken so long with my dryer that it didn’t seem worth scaring the wits out of him.
Clip again after the bath
After he was completely dry, I brushed and brushed and brushed him. When he was all fluffy, I clipped again. I only used blunt-nosed dog scissors. I don’t have groomer clippers nor do I know how to use them. Because it’s winter, I didn’t want him clipped really close. I left the hair on his body about an inch long (more or less depending on my accuracy) and trimmed his legs to about the same length. I trimmed the base of his tail short and left his pompom long. Then I neatened up his ear fringe at the bottoms but otherwise only brushed them. I left the hair on the top of his head and back of his neck and shoulders long.
When it’s warmer, he will go to his groomer. Considering that this took me the better part of two days and Leo began running from me when he saw scissors or brush in my hand, I think the money spent on a professional grooming job is well worth it. Groomers do more than I can do, and do the whole job better. Poodles need the hair inside their ears plucked to avoid infection and I don’t have the confidence to try that. But for an occasional clean up job, I think what I call Leo’s “casual sporty clip” looks just fine. So does he.
First posted Feb. 28, 2013 on my St. Thomas Dog Blog. When Leo got too decrepit to stand in the tub or even be thoroughly wet, I bought Wahl No Rinse Shampoo for Dogs. Lightly massage it in his coat, then towel it off. It worked fine, and I could do it as he laid on his side.