We tried a self-service dog wash, and this is what happened.

I am always looking for ways to cut back on extra expenses when I can and dog grooming is no exception to that rule.  So, naturally, I wash my dog myself to cut the cost of grooming.  I do it outdoors in the summer, in the bathroom tub in the winter. As a plus, it does keep me off the couch; therefore, I am burning calories while doing so.  There are so many ways I can avoid the gym.  Haha.  But I am not closed to the idea of going to Self-Service Dog Wash businesses if I have the funds to utilize it.   I can be a patron of such once in a while to show support for the local businesses.

Today, we visited a Self-Service Dog Wash to give it a try with the kids.  We’ve never been to one and thought it’s a great opportunity to bond the whole fam at the expense of my GSD, who does not like his baths as much as other dogs I’ve seen.  It’s important to note that we don’t intentionally try to torture him; but, he does need his baths to avoid getting skin rashes, which he is prone to have.  We all have to do something we don’t want to do, flossing teeth is one of them.  It was actually a fun family activity and it only cost $19.  See the details of our first time experience with self-service dog wash below.

First, what are the essentials for washing your dog at home?

  • Outdoors

    • Collar or Harness
    • Leash
    • Shampoo
    • Water, bucket and/or hose, I use both outdoors
    • Towels
    • Spiral Ground Anchor
  • Indoors

    • Collar or Harness
    • Leash
    • Shampoo
    • Handheld Shower Head
    • Towels
    • Shower Grab Bar, ours is pre-installed, the suction kind might not work as well

The collar/harness, leash, and anchor/grab bar are to contain him within an area. He definitely tries to get out of his wash, so it is very helpful for me to have him tied on to something to stop him from doing so.  Otherwise, I will be chasing him. He tolerates his wash but he doesn’t love it.

A bottle of shampoo is good for 2 usages for us.  Our GSD does have a lot of hair and body to cover. When I have space in the bottle, I try to water it down a bit so the shampoo lathers more easily.

Be prepared to get wet from water shaking off the fur.  If you pay attention you can tell when the dog is about to do so.  It was not easy at first but I have managed to command him to Shake off his water excess after I draw the shower curtain closed.  No such luck outdoors, however. Haha.

Second, what are the essentials to bring when using Self-Service Dog Wash?

  • Collar
  • Leash
  • Optional: Towels

Third, what’s included with the $19 Self-Service Dog Wash Fee?

  • Tub
  • Adjustable Tub Restraint
  • Hair Dryer
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Water
  • Eye, Ear, Dental Wipes
  • Brushes, Rakes, Combs
  • Towel
  • Chamois Cloth
  • Waterproof Apron
  • Free Spray of Dog Perfume

*If your dog has fleas, there may be an option for flea treatments, it probably will be for an additional fee. The one we went to charges an additional $5 for flea treatment, which is not all that much I think.  We didn’t require it so I can not comment on how this treatment works.

Our First Time Experience went something like this:

There is a ramp to help our dog go up the tub.  He can certainly jump into the tub; but, he knew something was up and he was not having it.  We had to lift him a bit to push him up the ramp. Once there, the door was secure and he was secured onto the tub restraint that goes around his neck to contain him in the tub.  He can move around, just not far enough that he could jump off.  The tub, for me at least, is waist high.

The start of our self-service dog wash experience

After watering him down, we lathered papaya scent shampoo on him and used a scrub to penetrate under this double coating.

Our GSD lost half of his bulk, no fluff

After rinsing the soap off, we used the hair dryer.  This one scared him a bit because it’s new and it’s a little loud but not louder than my vacuum cleaner, to give a comparison.  I just stayed by his face to calm him down, using the provided towel to dry his head area, while the kids dried him off with the hair dryer.

Sitting to show he’s a good boy so I will let him out

Sometime in between the drying, we started combing his hair to remove loose hair.  There was a lot!  There’s a trashcan near the tub so we just collected it and threw it out.  I felt bad leaving it all there in the tub.  Although the price already include tub cleaning/disinfecting.

Because he is tall, it was harder to reach the other side of him.  I didn’t see a stool to step on, might not be safe anyway.  So, I just tiptoed.  The kids did almost all the work.  I loved it! No back pains for me.

Total time spent:  1 hour.  (We were not told of any time limit; but, it was not busy when we went this morning.)

Done. My clean papaya scented handsome boy.


Because our boy has a ton of hair, I knew we wouldn’t be able to dry that hair of his completely.  I brought towels to dry him a little bit more.  This was much better for him than the noisy hair dryer too.  I didn’t want to prolong his self-service wash experience, since it was his first time there.  I can tell he was anxious, despite all of us being there for him.

Ask if they have a loyalty stamp card or daily/weekly specials.  The one we went to have different specials throughout the week. Today, Tuesday, is double stamp day.  Once I reach 9, my 10th one is free.

Some Self-Service Dog Wash businesses may have more or less amenities.  This particular one we went to does not require appointments.  When in doubt, call ahead of time before driving to the place to double check.

We will definitely go back, especially since my kids did the work and have offered to do so again.  Love it!

If you are interested in learning what life is like with a GSD, read my post here.   He has been a part of our family for 3 years now.