About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Face Washing

A few weeks ago I saw a post on one of the forums, where someone asked about getting shampoo in a dogs eyes.
I was really surprised at the number of answers to the post where other groomers talked about washing face, or lack there of.

A surprising number of groomers talked about avoiding shampooing the face, or talked about using a washrag on the face.
Some even talked about not getting any water around the eyes.

I am a BIG believer in getting a face clean, clean, clean!
I feel that if a face is not clean, then the dog has not been groomed properly.

As for shampoo in the eyes....

 I am very careful to shampoo all around the eyes.

I go out of my way not to get shampoo in the eyes.

I also get as close to the eyes as I can.

I watched a video on youtube a while back and was shocked to see the groomer rubbing all over the dogs face and over the dogs eyes without taking any care at all to avoid getting shampoo in the eyes.

I feel safe using all of my shampoos on the dogs faces.

I have had a ton of dogs, over the years, shake and get shampoo into my eyes.
I don't remember any of them stinging my eyes.

In all of the years that I have been grooming, I only remember one Schnauzer puppy that rubbed his leg across his face while bathing and rubbed shampoo directly into his eye.
The problem was that we didn't notice right away.
Even though we flushed the eye as soon as we noticed, he was still favoring the eye after the groom was done.
We sent him to the Vet for drops and paid the bill.
He was okay.

I used to have dogs turn their head, once in a while, right into the shampoo that I was applying from a small bottle, but I would flush the eye immediately and had no problems.

Most of the time, now, I put the shampoo on my fingers, or in my hand, and then soap up the face.
I feel like I have more control over where the shampoo goes.

It is so important to have a clean face.
Most of the time that is the first place an owner puts their face when they pick up their dogs.

I have my face and nose in my dogs faces all of the time.
I hate a stinky face.

I really hate a stinky bread....

......and, stinky eyes.

I start washing the faces by wetting them down first.

This helps me to spread the shampoo all over their face better, because I like to use a higher concentrate of the shampoo on the faces.

 After I get their faces wet, and before I shampoo the face, I move the hair out of the dogs eyes.

I get their hair away from their eyes as much as I can.

I will also clean out the eye boogies after they have soften up.

I will scrub the beard, rinse and scrub it again.

This is the time to make sure that you scrub all of the food out of the beard.

Lift the lip and check to make sure you are cleaning all of the food off.

If you can't get all of the food with your fingers, use a fine tooth comb to comb out the clumps of food caught in the hair.

I do this while the hair still has soap in it.

Be very careful, because the dogs skin is very tender when wet.

Carefully work your fingers all around the eyes.

Make sure that you scrub good between the eyes also.

 I like to get the whole face good and soapy.

I even get short haired dogs and dogs with just a little hair on their faces good and soapy.

I want those faces to smell really good.

I like to wash the faces first and let them soak while I soap up the rest of the body.

Just keep an eye on that soapy face and make sure that soapy hair does not fall into the eyes or that the dog rubs its face.

I start rinsing the face by putting the sprayer right against the top of the head.

I let the water run gently off of the top of the head, and over the eyes.

Some dogs keep their eyes open.

Some dogs close their eyes.

I never spray the water directly into the eyes.

The water flushes any shampoo away from the eyes as you rinse.

I am very careful not to get any water into the nose.

If the dog turns its face into the hose, or water runs into the nose, let the dog put its head down and sneeze if he needs to.

Then I take a towel and dry off their nose and go back to rinsing.

After the face is rinsed, I carefully move all of the wet hair out of the dogs eyes.

I am also feeling and checking the face for any shampoo that I may have missed.

Especially between the eyes.

The eyes are fine after the face has been bathed.

 Nice clean smelling eyes.

A clean, fluffy, food free beard.

Best of all, a cute, clean smelling face.

So don't be afraid to wash those faces really well.

Just use common sense, take your time, and be careful around the eyes. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. I use an adjustable sprayer from the garden department. it is light weight plastic with the trigger on the fingers side, and has about 7 different settings plus an additional lever that allows you to cut way back on the pressure. I approach the head with caution, one side at a time til I see how the dog will react before I go for the tearless version of my favorite line of shampoo. If the dog turns into a Tasmanian Devil when the water is turned on, I back myself up with protective oil in the eyes. if the dog is really dirty, especially a big dog, I do the head completely and wring it and the ears out really well, which cuts down on the mud bath I get while I shampoo the rest of the dog! hope this helps somebody:)

  2. Holy cow, I love you!
    You have perfectly described exactly how we wash dogs! I love how impressed the customers are about the clean faces, they really do check there first. I love getting compliments on how clean the face and head is, and how it smelled great for the next week or so. I also love the blueberry facial, it really freshens things up.
    Only difference I have is that I brush the teeth after I soap the entire dog, and if requested I express glands while or right before I rinse the rear immediately. If you let gland waste touch hair, sometimes even for a moment, the entire rear holds that fish smell for like a day. :\
    Love the blog! Take more pictures of pretty hand scissor clips you do! It's my favorite thing to see, it's seamless and perfect every time!
    XOXO ~Serena

  3. Great post!!! Like always!! I wanted to know what do you use to get those faces as white as posible?? I had a schnauzer client ask me to make the beard as white as possible because her first groomer always made it really white and her second groomer didnt get it as white ( and she added that because of this know her sch had his beard yellow because that second groomer could make the beard whiter mlbow as time goes by it get yellower) Her conclusion was fun to hear it was like she didnt had to do anything between grooms that are like every 21/2-3 months!! I scrubed that beard really good with biogroom whitning and put some tear stain remover scrub it some more but i wasnt pleased the client didnt say anything so I dont know if she was pleased! I read in a forum someone used a "old cat trick" lens cleaner have you tried it?? Or anything better you would suggest

  4. Hi Auntie Mo,
    Sounds like we use the same sprayer. :)
    Be care full of the protective eye oils. I only say this because a while back I had read and had a couple of Vets tell me that the oils can cause more eye problems than the shampoo in the eyes. I wish that I could remember where I saw that article. Maybe talk to your Vet about it. It may have just been one eye oil brand.

    Hi Serena,
    Thanks. I will have to do another Before and After post soon. lol
    Lisa, MFF

    Hi Jessica,
    Best Shot shampoo is a great whitener, but my favorite whitener, and the one that I have been using for 26 years is Bright White by Ring 5. I use it straight on white hair and let it soak for a few minutes depending on how dirty the white hair is.
    I would be really, really leery of using lens cleaner around a dogs mouth in case he ingested it. Also would it burn the skin?

    Below is a link to the Bright White shampoo. Cherrybrook carries it. It is a little pricey for a Gallon, but I only use it when I need it, so it lasts me awhile. I love this shampoo.


    It won't get all red stains out, but it will lighten them up.
    Lisa, MFF

    1. Maybe suggest to your client she only give her dog distilled water to drink. I have a multi colored (mostly white) Morkie and her white sections were getting rusty colored. I read on a blog somewhere that distilled water helps the fur to stay white...something to do with the minerals or lack there of. Whatever the cause, it works. My little Morkie absolutely no longer has anything other than completely white fur where it is supposed to be white. I apologize, I'm not a groomer just a dog owner that can't stand to see a white dog that has rust colored eyes, mouth, and feet.

  5. Perfect i'll check that out see if they ship to P.R. :)

  6. Just wanted to say thank you so much for the step by step on washing faces! I do worry about shampoo getting in the dogs eyes and it hurting, and the best way to rinse it all out, as a newbie groomer your post is amazing - thank you!

  7. Your Welcome!
    I glad that the post was helpful to you. Thanks for reading.
    Lisa, MFF

  8. When I used to work at a grooming salon we were always trying different shampoos and could never find a decently priced one that was truly tearless we even bought like 10 gallons of Pro 35 because it had tearless written all over everywhere and it was a good shampoo. Only that's when we had a dog almost every day that would have a bad soap reaction in their eye. Before that shampoo it was extremely rare for us to have a problem and it was usually only on misbehaved dogs. Now I work for a vet hospital and due to their rules my bathers use Ultimate shampoo by double K and they put artificial tears in all the dogs eyes before the bath. We have never had a problem and the faces are always very clean and smells great.

  9. Hi Peggan,
    It's frustrating when you can't even trust the labels on the shampoo bottles. I was working at a kennel shortly after grooming school where they only used one shampoo. It was supposed the be 'the best' shampoo. Management would buy it by the 5 gallon drum.
    I have never had a shampoo tare my hands up like that stuff did. My skin would actually crack and bleed. I always wondered; if it was that bad on my hands, what was it doing to the dogs skin?
    Thanks for reading my blog. :)
    Lisa, MFF

  10. I love the way you take care of your pets. They will love you back for such goodness.

  11. I really like your blog. Thanks.

  12. My Zuchon is 6 mos old and invading the litter box here so his face is stinky too. I've used a warm wet cloth to try and clean it but he's still stinky - LOL. I know the Angel Eyes is good for the "rust" but I need something that will clean and make him smell better. He's very good about me handling him so would Johnson's baby shampoo be god for his face as it's supposed to be "no more tears"?

  13. My 6 mos Zuchon raids the litter box here so his face is stinky. I need a gentle shampoo to clean his face along with the Angel Eyes for the "rust" Would Johnsons Baby Shampoo be gentle enough. His face is pretty stinky although he's getting better at staying out of it. except when I'm not here - LOL

  14. What is the BEST facial shampoo that doe not cause burning...all of the"tearless shampoos" all burn (we even put it in our eyes to test it). I have dried Laube Puppy Tears, Tropiclean, South Park Blueberry Facial, and they all still burn and I continue to have eye issues monthly with dogs. I need help! Please!

  15. My Yorkie has fleas on his face. I used Frontline & flea shampoo. What can I use for his face?

  16. Do you think Baby shampoo would be appropriate for my Maltese's daily face washings? Or should I use saline solution?