There is a lot that goes into drying a dog, and unfortunately this is one of my the main aspects of grooming that dogs don’t care for. Can we really blame them though? The dryer is usually very loud, and blows air hard and fast to help dry the coat quick. For any aspect of grooming, after a bath, the dog needs to be fully dried. For haircuts, it is not a good thing to run blades and equipment over wet hair, it will rust your equipment, and dull it, making it necessary to have your tools sharpened more frequently. On top of that, it is difficult to give an even, good looking haircut, when there are tufts of damp spots all over. On the same aspect, you do not want to be brushing a wet dog. It is not good for the dogs coat or skin. Also, if you are trying to get undercoat out, don’t expect to get any out unless the dog is fully dried. Wet hair clings together, is dense and stays closer to the skin. Drying helps break apart the hair, pull it away from the skin, and enables you to fully brush out that undercoat.
When drying a dog, I have noticed their most sensitive areas to dry are the butt, feet, and head. The butt because air that is blowing around their anal opening feels immensely strange, and they just want to sit down. Feet because a good amount of dogs do not like their feet messed with too much, I mean, they do walk on them, so I would be sensitive as well. The head, well, the head should be pretty obvious. The dryer being super loud, blasting air in their ears, air going up their nose and their mouths, of course they are not going to like it! However, we are going to touch on ways of drying, and helping the dogs cope as best as possible, with as little stress as possible.
One thing that I like to do after the bath and towel drying the dog a little is spray in a leave-in conditioner. Whichever you prefer, I always go with The Stuff, it helps shorten drying time, helps me brush out the coat quicker, softens the coat, and makes it shiny. If interested further on this subject, click here to go to my full review on The Stuff. Then, I like to put cotton balls in the dogs ears before I dry them. Now, I don’t have to do this with every single dog, because I have quite a few dogs that tolerate the dryer beautifully. However, putting cotton balls in the ears during the drying process helps block the ear canal from the harsh air flow, as well as dull down some of the noise. This is especially helpful with puppies.
When I start drying a dog, I always, ALWAYS like to start with their back end. The reason for this is it helps give them time to adjust to the noise and the feeling. You want to hold the base of the nozzle where it connects to the hose. If you hold the hose, it can burn your hand, because the machine can heat up the hose. You can try out different motions to dry the dog, but you want to try and use your shoulder to move the hose back and forth. Using your wrist and elbow can cause strain and injury. Groomers are famous for getting tendonitis and carpal tunnel. I slowly work down the backs of the legs, then move up towards their heads. Now, you need to be able to read the dog, and adjust your drying with the dogs needs. If it is a new dog, and you have a two speed dryer, try it on low speed or one speed first, to see their reaction, so how comfortable they are with the drying process. I dry puppies differently, and I will touch on that in a second. Usually, at this point I am drying with a nozzle on, example shown on the side. If the dog seems to be tolerating it well, I will dry their body as much as I can with the nozzle on the hose. For their head, I take the hose and dry them at a distance, just to get the bulk of the water off their head, but again, I will adjust accordingly to how the dog is reacting. If they are stressing out about their head being dried, I will back off, and continue with their body. At this point, if I am at my professional grooming facility, I will turn off the dryer, and put the dog in the kennel and put a kennel dryer on them, as long as they don’t have any breathing or trachea issues. Now, to make this part perfectly clear, the kennels I use are not fully enclosed, and do not have a plastic covering to encase them. The kennel dryers I use are not heated, they blow room temperature air, at a low speed. Think of a box fan that you use for your house, on low speed. I do this to give the dog a break for a bit and to help get some of the excess water to fall off their coat. This also helps with the drying time later.
After a good break, I take them out, place them on my table and hook them up, and start the drying process again. However this time, I take the nozzle off the dryer. Now it will feel more like a high powered hair dryer, dispersing air in a larger area. Now with this method, you do need to be careful of the air heating up, because even though it is not a heated dryer, it is still a machine. You always want to be checking the temperature of the air leaving the hose. Too hot for you, too hot for the dog. The nozzle off approach is exactly how I start with puppies, I NEVER attempt to dry a puppy with the nozzle on the first couple of times, I want to slowly introduce them to drying. It is stressful and scary enough as is for puppies on their first few grooming experiences. Doing the same thing as when I originally started, with the nozzle off I start drying the coat at the back end, then I work section to section. Going down a leg, fully drying a foot, moving to the other legs, etc. You want to make sure that the coat is fully dried, all the way down to the skin. When you can see every strand separated, instead of big clumps of strands, that is usually a good indicator the coat is dry. Also, use your hands or even have someone else go over and see if they feel any damp spots.
Now, time to dry the head. Like I have said previously, this is one of the main issues dogs have with drying. If you put cotton in their ears before drying the first time, check to see if they are still in there, if not place new ones. Now when drying their face, I like to hold on to their muzzle. The reason for that is because I can help hold their face (as best as they will let me), to help control where I am blowing the air. I try and avoid their noses as much as possible. I like to blow on top of their head, down the sides of their cheeks, I will then lift their chin and dry under there, and keep repeating that process for a few minutes, then give the dog a break to dry their ears. Now, with the ears I am going to try and explain this as best as I can. I like essentially fold the base of their ears, covering their ear canal; this helps to further prevent air from blowing into their ears. So, I tend to pinch the opening of the canal closed with my forefinger, middle finger, and thumb, then use my ring finger and pinky to hold up the rest of the ear so I can dry the ear. This for me is second nature, but I promise you, holding the ear canal closed helps the dog tolerate drying the ears more. It might take some time getting use to, but try different holds that help keep the canal closed, and you will have an easier time drying the ear because the dogs tend not to freak out or stress out as much.
With the nozzle off, I keep bouncing from area to area, if they are starting to get stressed with me drying their head, I got an work on their body. I do not like to stay drying in one place too long, because as I have stated previously, the dryer can heat up, warming up the air. I don’t want to stick the dryer on one place for more than a few seconds at a time, because I do not want to hurt them. Keep bouncing around, and stay at a distance from your dog, I would say about 6 to 8 inches. If you notice the dog is stressing out, regardless of giving certain areas a break, give the dog another break. You never want to compromise the safety and well being of your dog. If it takes longer, oh well, you need to do what is best for the dog.
Now, if you are drying at home, with your own hair dryer, you can use the same drying techniques with the nozzle removed from the hose as your own hair dryer. HOWEVER, hair dryers are heated! If you have a cool setting, you need to be using it. If your hair dryer does not have a cool setting, you are going to be drying your dog for a while at a distance, because getting too close to a dogs skin with a heated dryer, you will burn their skin. You need to be a good distance away, and have your hand touching your dog while drying so you can keep a constant feel of the air temperature. Drying at home may be a little more tricky, because you need to make sure you have a spot where your dog is secure, but safe. You want to make sure if anything were to stress out your dog, you could quickly detach them if needed.
One final note is that I do not like brushing out dogs while drying. I want to fully focus on drying my dog first, that way I can focus on thoroughly brushing them later. I will be having a post coming up on brushing techniques for different coats. Any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to leave them in the comment section down below. Till next time.