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Bathing Your Dog or Cat With the Zoom Groom Brush From Kong

Laura is a technical writer. She enjoys playing the piano, traveling, fine art, and making jewelry.

Note: Although this article stands complete, you may wish to first read the previous article, Pet Brushes: The Experience of One Black Lab

Preparing for the Bath


You’ll Need the Following to Bathe Your Dog or Cat

  • Extra patience!!!
  • Puppy/kitty shampoo, preferably unscented (regardless of how old your pet is)
  • A plastic bowl or large drinking cup to be used to pour water over the pet
  • A Kong® Zoom Groom™ rubbery brush, sized appropriately for your pet
  • Wear old clothes—don’t kid yourself, you’ll end up with a soaked bathroom and yourself will be soaked with filthy water and you will smell like your pet used to before the bath
  • Old towels to dry off the pet after the bath and to try to contain water that the pet shakes to get it off
  • Treats to go along with the praise, so that subsequent baths go as smoothly as possible

Tip: It will really help if you use the Zoom Groom brush out of the water and simply "massage" your pet several times a day for a week or two before attempting a bath with it. Keep repeating and stressing the word "massage" so that the pet learns it, and insist that the pet looks and feels better after a nice MASSAGE. This will prepare it better for using the Zoom Groom in the (big scary) bath because Zoom Groom is now a familiar feeling for your pet, and you will have the word "massage" to use to tell the pet it is simply getting a massage (no need to remind him/her that it's in the tub).

Tip: It will help if you use the Zoom Groom brush out of the water, simply massaging your pet several times a day for a week or more before attempting a bath. Repeat the word "massage" over and over, so that your pet learns it, and tell them they look "SO PRETTY" after a "nice MASSAGE". This prepares it for using the Zoom Groom in the (scary) bath because it becomes familiar to your pet, and you have the word "massage" and positive associations to use with it. (No need to mention "bath"!)

And Now, Possibly Your Pet’s Least-Favorite Thing: The Bath (Plan A)

Teacup and very small pet owners: Modify these instructions as-needed if you bathe your pet in a sink or washtub. And know that the rest of us are very jealous of you right about now!

1. First you’ll need to leash and corral your pet in the bathroom or next to a wading pool outdoors, weather permitting. Start filling the pool/tub with water, and then get your dog into the tub. (This exercise is left to the reader--HINT: lure the pet into the water with a treat they can't resist, and if it works use that same type of treat for all future baths).

2. Once you get your cat or dog (in my case, “the Immovable Mass” about this time) into the water, fill the tub/pool about up to the pet’s belly unless it is an unusually tall dog such as a standard poodle or Great Dane, in which case a foot or so of water is plenty.

If you are using a tub, make sure the water is mildly warm and not hot—check it frequently to be sure. If in doubt, use colder water. Sing a soft song about bathing (the same song, over and over, each time you bathe), or coo softly to your pet to make it feel safe in the water and not to fear the actual bathing part that is about to occur. (And don't YOU fear it, either, or your pet will surely take total advantage of the situation: your emotions flow right down the leash to your pet.)

3. Once the animal is calmly standing in the water, attempt to get it to lay down. Cat owners, stop laughing—obviously this won’t happen with any cat I’ve ever met or heard of; just skip this paragraph. The water now covers the pet’s belly, feet, and possibly a good deal of its body, depending on how big the dog is.

4. Now is the time to get out your puppy/kitty shampoo, plastic water-pouring cup/bowl, and the Kong® Zoom Groom brush with which your pet is already familiar. Show the brush to your pet right away and let him/her sniff and lick it for a few seconds until they are sure that they recognize it as a familiar and safe (and GOOD) thing.

5. Make reassuring noises quietly to your pet while holding it firmly in the water, such as by stepping on the leash and putting a firm hand on the back of the neck. Pretend like you know what you're doing and that you're in charge. Show no fear or anxiety—your pet will pick up on that right away and know that you lack confidence in what you are doing! Use the cup to pour water over the back end of the pet. Keep doing this until you have reached the animal’s neck, where you will want to be careful and pour only a little water so as not to frighten your pet.

IMPORTANT: If your pet becomes distressed, stop pouring briefly and let it get used to being wet. Continue the brushing and praise your pet for doing a good job (unless they aren't—then, no praise). DO NOT give a treat or sympathize with your pet's feelings of fear and anxiety or you will encourage their fear: they will get worse! Instead, remain neutral, or tell your pet that it is being silly and should get itself together. Most pets don't like to be made fun of, which they hear in your voice.

6. Next, pour puppy/kitty shampoo (whichever type of pet you have) on a spot near the rear of the animal. Now, use the Zoom Groom™ brush to work the shampoo throughout the back areas of your pet. Repeat this, working your way slowly but steadily to the front, still making comforting noises or singing a quiet bath song and hoping the neighbor kid isn’t filming you to go on You Tube.

7. Once you get to the animal’s head, I recommend that you stop at the top of the neck, making sure not to forget the chest, of course. You can more safely wash the pet's head and face at another time/day with a "friendly" washcloth that is dampened to which you add a drop of puppy/kitty soap.

NOTE: Be especially careful throughout the bathing process not to get shampoo or water in your pet’s ears, eyes, nose, or mouth since some breeds are prone to infections. Labs, for example, get lots of ear infections unless you clean their ears regularly (make sure to ask the vet how to do this, exactly) and keep the insides of those ears dry. You may want to pop cotton balls in your pet's ears before the bath begins just to be sure.

8. Now, tell your pet to stand (if it isn’t already) and use your hands to carefully shampoo the legs.

9. Finally it’s time to wash off the soapy, grimy water. Fill the cup from the tub/pool water and rinse off your pet, starting again from the back and working your way forward. Use the Zoom Groom™ brush to power out the shampoo and goo, leaving your pet’s coat clean and fresh. If your pet happens to not mind the water, by all means take this opportunity to use clean water from the tub faucet, hand-held shower sprayer, or garden hose to do the rinsing—it will be a much more thorough job, and your pet’s skin is less likely to get dried out or “dandruff” from soap residue.

10. Finally, once your pet is clean and rinsed, allow it to get out of the water (help it if necessary) and towel dry it immediately after you’ve allowed it to shake the water out of its coat several times. Shaking is very effective at removing a lot of water quickly—and depositing it all over your bathroom if you have not prepared by shielding the bathroom and yourself from the living water sprayer.

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PRO TIP: To keep your dog from shaking off water, hold its head still: the shake always starts with the head and proceeds down the body. No head shake, no body shake—and no soggy bathroom--if you quickly toss (or, better, have someone else toss) a towel over your dog. Then let go of the dog's head and let it shake happily. After shaking, your dog is more likely to let you help towel-dry it.

Sorry, cat owners, I don't know if this tip applies to cats: please comment below!

11. (Optional) If your pet is very brave, you might want to try using a hair dryer on a cool setting only, with a diffuser if you have one, AFTER the floor and counter top have been thoroughly dried to prevent potential electrocution. Otherwise, just let your pet dry in the bathroom while you turn the exhaust fan on and clean the bathroom followed by yourself. Teacup-dog owners, I'm totally jealous that all you'll need to clean is the sink area and then toss your apron into the wash.

She's Not Loving It, But Tolerating It

River, "You know, this really, really isn't my thing..."

River, "You know, this really, really isn't my thing..."

Uh-oh: The Plan A Bath Totally Failed!

If the Plan A bath totally failed, you have several options, so don't panic.

  1. Try Plan B (below) and see if that works. Of course, this assumes that you happen to have a solidly enclosed bath or shower door in one of your bathrooms.
  2. Take your pet to a professional groomer to have it groomed. Of course, if your pet needs frequent baths or if you otherwise can't or don't want to spend that much money on a simple bath, this option won't work for you either.
  3. Take your pet to the veterinarian and explain in detail what types of problems you are having with getting your pet to take a bath. The vet might suggest giving the dog an anti-anxiety medicine before the bath. Prescription, non-prescription, and holistic medicines are all available to help your pet calm down until it is used to the bathing process and no longer needs medication before The Bath. If you prefer one type of medication over another, tell your vet, who can recommend the right kind and dosage for your dog's symptoms and physiology. Tip: If you don't get a prescription medicine, get the name and dosage of the over-the-counter or holistic medicine in writing, so you don't forget: it's important not to overdose your pet, obviously!

The Bath (Plan B)

Some people are lucky enough to have glass or other solid doors on their shower or tub. If this is the case, the process of bathing the pet really becomes easier, though it won’t eliminate your need to fully clean the bathroom and then, again, yourself (unless you don’t mind smelling like your pet before it was washed).

Here’s what you do. Follow the basic instructions above, except take off your own clothes and close the shower/tub door with yourself and your pet shut inside and hold it closed if necessary to keep your pet from escaping. Turn on the shower, and adjust the temperature to your taste (but not too hot). Put the plug in the tub so that the tub fills with water—it never hurts to soak a pet’s feet and legs and tummy a little longer in the water.

Follow the remainder of the instructions above allowing your pet to shake off the water several times inside the shower before letting it out to be towel-dried in the bathroom itself. I’d recommend leaving the fan on and the pet in the bathroom with you while you shower the pet shampoo and goo off of yourself—it will give the pet a little more time to dry and a little less time to roll on your carpets until it is dry after you let it out of the bathroom.

REMINDER: Don’t forget to reward your pet throughout the bathing process with treats and lots of petting and praise about how pretty it looks all clean and shiny.

It’s also good to get young or newly adopted pets used to hearing you sing a special “bath time” song of your choice, so that it is less afraid at each bath time. For example, “This is the way we wash our puppy, wash our puppy, wash our puppy; this is the way we wash our puppy, so early in the morning” (modified from the children’s folk tune “This is the way we wash our clothes…”). Sing it over and over soothingly and it should help your pet to relax (no guarantees on that, however).

Squeaky-Clean and Dry

River, "I survived another bath. That wasn't as bad as I'd remembered..."

River, "I survived another bath. That wasn't as bad as I'd remembered..."

Additional Reading About Dogs

About the Author

Information about the author, a list of her complete works on HubPages, and a means of contacting her are available over on ==>Laura Schneider's profile page. But wait--don't go there yet! Please continue scrolling down to leave ratings and any comments you have about this article so that it can be improved to best meet your needs. Thank you!

© 2013 Laura Schneider


Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on April 13, 2013:

Thank you so much, tillsontitan!

I hope treats and a special bath song will help your MinPin--honestly, they don't help my Lab (much)--she becomes an immovable object about half the time when it comes to getting in the tub, but they REALLY helped the dogs (Labs also) at a service dog training school (see and the article I wrote about them) that I volunteered with and dozens of other dogs whose owners have taken this advice.

Thanks for the votes--I really appreciate your support. Cheers! (Let me know if this helps your MinPin, too--really curious!)

Mary Craig from New York on April 13, 2013:

I love your ideas, singing a song may help some dogs and is a good idea. I have a MinPin and though he likes a good dunk in the pool he's not too happy with a bath. I never thought of giving him treats while bathing him, what a great idea.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Laura Schneider (author) from Minnesota, USA on April 12, 2013:

Thanks, heidithorne and wetnosedogs! I'm not sure we'd begun the actual bathing process at the precise moment that she was posing for the camera. And, yes, I get totally soaked bathing my dog. That's why I trap her in the shower with me if I can--once she's clean, I can then actually take a thorough shower and hopefully not smell like a wet dog myself. LOL

wetnosedogs from Alabama on April 12, 2013:

Trying again. Couldn't get comment through this a.m.

I get soaking wet bathing my dogs. Think they think if they are going to get wet, so am I-LOL.

Great review.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on April 12, 2013:

Surprised you got your 4-legger to model for you during the bathing process! :) Ours just think it's traumatic and we let the groomer do it. (Drama queen and prince for sure.) I've used the Zoom Groom for regular non-bath brushing and they do like it.

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