Advice on Bathing Your Lhasa

by Joyce Johanson

"Help," came the plea, "my Lhasa came out of his bath matted and it took me hours to untangle his coat. What happened? Did I do something wrong?"

Who would have thought that a simple, ordinary activity such as giving a dog a bath could result in a matted mess? However, it could easily happen if you aren't careful before, during, and after the bath. I know because it happened to me "way back when I was 'just learning'." My poor little Lhasa had to be clipped down.

I am a firm believer in "Better Safe than Sorry" and advocate brushing a Lhasa before bathing him to remove any mats or tangles that might get worse when they are wet. Not everyone agrees with this approach. I have friends who just bathe their Lhasas and worry about getting the mats and tangles out when the coat is wet. This works unless the coat has a lot of "hidden" mats or unless there are some tight mats. Then you have a disaster on your hands.

Before his bath, lay your Lhasa on his side and brush his coat in layers. This technique makes finding and removing any mats or tangles much easier. If your Lhasa happens to be going through one of those stages where the top coat looks mat-free but the undercoat is full of mats and tangles, brushing before bathing can save you from a disaster.

There's also a technique to bathing a Lhasa that is easy and does not cause the coat to tangle. After you've wet the Lhasa completely, apply the shampoo by squeezing it through the coat in a downward motion. Do not massage it into the coat in a circular motion as you might do when you wash your own hair. Applying shampoo in a circular motion only tends to tangle the coat. Continue working the shampoo through the coat using the downward motion. You'll still get a nice sudsy lather.

When the bath is finished and all the shampoo and conditioners have been thoroughly rinsed from the Lhasa's coat, squeeze all the excess water from the ears, legs, and tail before removing the dog from the tub. When towel drying your Lhasa, squeeze or blot the coat with the towel to remove as much moisture as possible. Don't rub the coat with the towel.

Finally, dry your Lhasa with a blow dryer. Give him a chance to shake water out of his coat, but don't let him air dry for more than a few minutes unless you confine him. Most dogs love nothing more than to rub themselves on rugs, carpeting or toweling when they are turned loose after a bath. They may have a great time, but they manage to rub in some tangles and lose coat in the process.

Use a blow dryer to dry your Lhasa, but don't just stick him in a cage with a dryer blowing on him. Many times some coats get kinky, the force of the air from the dryer whips tangles into the coat, or the entire coat doesn't dry (especially those hard-to-reach, mat-attracting places like the "arm pits" and behind the ears).

Instead, with the blow dryer set at a comfortable temperature and speed, lay the dog on his side while you brush his coat in layers as they dry. Be sure to completely dry the insides of the legs and behind the ears.

When the dog is dry, put in his part, secure his eyefall so it's out of his eyes, and tell him he's gorgeous!

That's all there is to it!

Please note: Permission to reproduce and/or circulate information in this article is granted. However, the article must be disseminated in its entirety and credit must be given to Joyce Johanson, Joyslyn's Lhasa Apsos. Thanks!

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