bathtime for dogs doesn't have to be a pain

Throughout my life I have been the happy mom of multiple dogs of varying breeds and sizes. With the years of joy and laughter they have brought me there have been a few minor bumps in the road where I thought there’s got to be a better way to deal with their upkeep and care. One of those hiccups has been the quandary pertaining to the best way to bathe them. Smaller dogs are a piece of cake. You can wash them in almost any receptacle with little to no problem. But larger dogs can present kinks in multiple ways. Because of this, I’m always on the lookout for a better mousetrap, as it were, in regards to canine bath time, and I think I may have just found one in the form of a dog washing station.

bathing small dogs and puppies
Bathing small dogs & puppies is a piece of cake

Dog Washing Stations

If you’re wondering what a dog washing station is, it’s a dedicated space for bathing your beloved Fido that you can install in your home or on your patio, depending on where you live. I say depending on where you live, because your local climate might not be conducive to year-round bathing outdoors. Just as many people have outdoor showers, not everyone can use them in the dead of winter, unless you live somewhere perennially balmy. The best part about these convenient grooming stations is — depending on how grand your vision for the project is — many of them fall under the heading of DIY pet projects.

dog washing stations for in-home use not just for pros
Install a dog washing station like a professional groomer

Pet Grooming

Not everyone has the ability to take their pet to a professional groomer due to cost or location. With an at-home dog washing station, you’ll provide yourself with access to the same kind of professional groomer accoutrements as the pros with the added benefit that the project will more than pay for itself in no time at all. These stations are perfect for large breeds and multiple pets. While a lot of folks with walk-in showers utilize the space for bath time for every member of the family, not everyone is down with the idea.

If you don’t have a walk-in shower, you’re probably having to hoist them into a bathtub or trying to coax them in on your own, either of which gets old fast — especially if you have a bad back or time constraints. The alternative is using a hose in the backyard, but, again, winter can stymie that.

dog baths
Bathing dogs in a traditional bathtub can be back breaking

Pros & Cons of Dog Washing Stations

The list of pros for a dedicated pet grooming station are numerous. First of all, gone are the days of dog hair all over your bathroom and in your tub/shower drain. Secondly, you don’t have to dry the walls and floors of your bathroom after they inevitably shake off all the excess water the minute the faucet is turned off — oftentimes before you can get the shower curtain or door shut. It also saves you from having to scrub your tub after each dog bath.

One of my biggest complaints is my back aches from perching on the edge of the tub and leaning over into it. The only con that comes to mind is that with most dog washing stations (for large breeds, anyways) you’ll have to kneel in front of them, but at least you don’t have the barrier of a tub between you and your pet.

dog washing stations
Dog washing station featuring a shallow tub

Designing a Dog Washing Station

If the benefits of a home-bathing system for your pups sounds appealing, you’ll need to decide where to place it. Most people install them in their laundry room. Many pet owners with small dogs already take advantage of laundry sinks due to size, depth and the fact they don’t have to bend or stoop while using them. I’ve also seen them installed in what are often referred to as mudrooms off the side or back of a house.

Most dog washing stations resemble a walk-in shower with a higher threshold in front for keeping water from splashing out. This threshold will be the only barrier between you and your pet. If kneeling is a problem and padded mats or a folded towel for your knees just won’t cut it, consider designing one with a small, built-in seat.

dog washing stations with seating
If you've got back issues, design a dog washing station with seating

Using a Mop Sink as a Dog Washing Station

While raised laundry sinks or tubs, as they’re sometimes called, are great for smaller pets, a shallow, floor-mounted mop sink 20x20x15 will work well for medium and larger dogs. If you build the unit into a corner, you’ll only need to erect one half wall to enclose it. Centering it will obviously require building a wall on either side. Whichever you decide, you’ll want to cover them in tile or an inexpensive waterproof product like Marlite.

When you design the space, remember to attach your shower sprayer low enough for the hose to easily reach your pet’s underside. It’s also a good idea to build some shelf space around it for things like towels and pet care products that you’ll be using.

converting a shower to accommodate dogs
Convert a walk-in shower by replacing the shower head with a sprayer for dogs

Easing Bath Time Anxiety for Pets

Don’t forget a rubber mat for the floor of your new dog washing station to avoid slips and a mesh screen for the drain that can easily be emptied and cleaned after each use. Slipping and sliding in tubs can create a lot of anxiety in pets. Keeping their nails trimmed on top of providing a grippy mat can ease these feelings significantly. By installing a hair trap or using a mesh screen of the type commonly used with kitchen sinks you can avoid a hefty plumbing bill somewhere down the road.

Last but not least, place a rubber-backed rug outside of the unit so that when Fido steps or jumps out he or she won’t skid wildly across the floor. Once the project is completed, whether you do it yourself or hire a contractor, you should get years or practical use and enjoyment out of this sensible home improvement idea.