One of the most important things to remember when bathing your dog, is to make sure EVERY bit of shampoo is rinsed out. If any shampoo is left in, it can irritate the skin, create more matting problems, or just look greasy.
To apply the shampoo, I use a pump style garden sprayer. I put the diluted shampoo into the container and pump it up to pressurize it. To apply, simply spray evenly over the dog. This will put a fine coat of shampoo evenly upon the dog, and make it easier to lather and rinse.
To wet/rinse the dog, I have a very simple spray hose with an on/off valve right at the sprayer - this allows me to shut the water off while lathering, but maintain the right water temperature.
Unless your dog is clipped very short all over, including the topknot, tail and ears I think it is important to hand dry the hair. If you allow it to air dry, it will get very curly and you will not be able to properly straighten it to finish the groom. Also, because of the tight curls poodles have, when you allow your poodle's coat to air dry those tight curls can lead to future mats.
A big key to having a groom look good longer is the finish drying. If you take the time to brush as you dry and straighten the hair, it will stay fuller and fluffier longer than if you let it air dry and then brush it out. Yes, when you air dry the coat, and brush it, it will look fluffy, but not for long. The curls are set into the hair as it dries, which is why I feel it is important to gently pull the hair straight with a brush as you dry.
If you are working with a long coat, the drying technique is the same as the brushing out technique, except you have a dryer focused on the area you are working on. Because the coat is wet, you do not need to mist it with a conditioner.
Force air drying a lamb trim - I only do this to the point where the dog is damp dry, and then go over with a brush and stand dryer to really straighten & fluff the hair before scissoring.
Finishing the lamb trim bath/drying process by hand fluffing
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