6 Tips from the Pros to Get the Pet Shower of Your Dreams
A pet shower at home is for the dogs—and for you. Because after a walk spent romping in the mud, digging through the leaves, or finding something nice and smelly to roll in, dogs need an immediate sudsing down when they're a muddy mess. Today's home designers are seeing a demand for dog washing stations that can be attractively tucked into a room and include extra features to get your dog cleaned up with minimal fuss or stress.
Bryan Sebring, owner of Sebring Design Build, a design-build firm based in Chicago and Nashville, has seen interest from larger-dog owners who want an accessible place to give their furry friends a bath off their garage, laundry, or entry. "Depending on how fancy you want to get, and how much space you have, you can have an area where the dog can walk up into the shower. You can add little niches like you have in your shower, and cabinetry storage below it or next to it. It is a very customizable thing," Sebring says.
What Is a Pet Shower?
A dog wash, or dog shower, is similar to human showers, just dog-size. They let you turn grooming into a DIY task—rather than requiring an expensive trip to the groomer. Functionality is key when you're planning a DIY dog wash station, so wipeable surfaces like tile or rust-resistant stainless steel are a must.
What Features Should a Pet Shower Include?
Your DIY dog shower can be designed to be as attractive and include as many features as your budget allows. "We like to treat it like a shower, only shorter," Sebring says. "So you can have a pre-made shower base with walls with a glass front, or they can do a tile base. People like to raise it, so it's usually 12 to 24 inches off the floor depending on the height of the dog. That way they don't hurt their backs when they give their dog a bath."
1. An Easy-to-Use Water Source
Sebring says most of the showers come with a handheld shower head that's long enough to wash a dog from head to toe. "You want to use a handheld, so the splash is reduced," he says. "And nowadays many handhelds come with an adjustable bar so you can pull off the shower head when you want to use one hand and get closer."
2. Thoughtful Storage for Your Dog's Gear
You'll want a handy place near the shower to stash shampoos, skin conditioners, canine toothbrushes, and towels since you don't want to leave your pooch standing under a stream of water while you search for the shampoo.
Plan to have a waterproof jar filled with treats with an easy-access lid—like one with a push-vacuum top. So you can reinforce your dog's good behavior in the shower.
Designate a basket for nail care supplies so you can deal with any sharp claws before bath time begins. Place a cabinet or basket next to the shower to hold dog-only towels since baths can turn into a shake-o-rama. You also want to completely dry and comb or brush through your dog's coat after his bath to prevent fur from matting.
If your dog is not into water, prep yourself, too. "Put on your bathing suit, be prepared to get wet, and have plenty of towels ready," says Mary R. Burch, PhD, AKC Family Dog Director and animal behaviorist.
3. Safety Features
"Whatever type of tub or shower you use, remember that safety comes first," Burch says. If your shower floor is too slippery Burch recommends adding a non-slip mat. "And if your dog is not 100-percent reliable on 'Stay!', use a safety harness," she says. If you need to secure your dog, Sebring says you can drill a tether anchor into your tile to have a place to latch your dog's leash onto. There are also suction options sold online or at pet stores.
Keep your dog's collar on if you think you may need to hold onto it—because who wants a wet, soapy dog bolting through the house? For dogs who stress out the minute they hear the water turned on, put some peanut butter on the shower wall where the water can't get to it but it can keep your dog busy. Or try a stick-on lick pad to help soothe your dog and give 'em a reward for participation.
4. Accessibility Based on the Size of Your Dog and Your Mobility
The best part about customizing a pet shower is you can build it to an ideal height to suit your dog's size while also reducing the amount of back-bending gymnastics you need to do to bathe your dog. Built-in stairs can be designed to fit right in with a room's aesthetic so your dog has an easy way to get into the shower. Or, bring in portable dog booster steps or a ramp with a no-slip surface that you can pull up to the shower when needed.
5. A Way to Handle All That Dog Hair
Giving your dog a bath also means lots of hair heading toward your drain. "For a tile base we can pitch the base if we use a smaller tile so it drains toward a center drain," Sebring says. Burch says you can also set a screen over the drain to help catch dog hair. If you're really concerned about drainage, and you're willing to pay the extra cost, Sebring says you can install a linear drain so the water and dog hair won't pool on the bottom of the shower.
6. Other Wash-Time Accessories
For dogs with thick or coarse coats, or for one that needs a gentler spray, there are specialty pet shower wands sold online and at pet stores. Look for models with adapters that can attach to indoor and outdoor faucets and include a flow head you can easily adjust when cleaning sensitive areas.
You can also make bath time better by using waterproof pet grooming gloves that feature rubber nodules along the fingers and palm to give your dog a massage during bath time. When it's time to towel off your dog, you can speed up the process with super absorbent, quick-drying microfiber towels. These extras will go a long way in making your dog shower a treat for a good sudsing-down experience every time.