As winter sneaks ever closer and our daily walks in the woods turn wetter and muddier, my thoughts turn towards filthy dog towels and dirty paw prints on the carpet again. It's time to pull out all the winter walkies paraphernalia and, more importantly, scour the web for some new gadgets and accessories to deal with the post-walk mud-dispensing, sodden hairball that is Rumble throughout winter.
AMAZONBASICS DOG & PUPPY TRAINING PADS
To protect your carpet
To kick off I'm starting with puppy pads, as I use them through winter, usually near the back door, and let Rumble walk along them after being out in the garden. They take off most of the water, and if he's been in the flower beds and has muddy feet, he'll leave most of it on the pads and I'll stop him before he reaches the carpet to wipe the remaining dirt off his paws. Even if he's been dried, he'll still be damp, and so I put these down where I know he'll lay down on the carpet. They're also really useful for bath time too, as you can cover the bathroom floor to deal with the inevitable wet dog shake that a single towel on the floor won't tackle. These were bought for my old, incontinent dog, but have proven to be constantly handy with a mucky young pupper.
Right, now we need gadgets or gear that can entertain the man-child of a dog-dad that I am, while performing a vital canine cleaning task. How about powered-dog showers?
BISSELL BARKBATH QT GROOMING SYSTEM
To clean and groom
Bissell make a larger, more expensive system, but this is their upgraded 'quiet' model, although reviewers make clear it still sounds very much like a vacuum cleaner, so if your dog hates the vacuum, this might not be for you. Bissell tackle this by providing a 13ft hose to move to the unit further away from your dog, plus a sound absorbing matt for it to sit on. You fill one tank with clean water - and the warmer the better as it cools as it travels through the long pipe - and filthy dog soup fills the waste tank. No Rinse shampoo goes in the unit and the nozzle is designed to lift fur and clean from the skin up and not the fur down.
The reviews are mostly positive, but it doesn't impress everyone, with some complaining about the poor suction when removing the soapy water. Long-haired dogs need a good brush beforehand or the unit can clog with hair. And some short-haired dogs are so short-haired that the water runs off them before the suction has a chance to catch it, meaning wet floors.
I think this is a good option for older or bigger dogs, where getting them in and out of the bath is a problem. However, this doesn't seem to be available to UK dog owners, so I have another idea...
To clean anywhere
So the BarkBath can only use the manufacturer's shampoo, and it needs a power source. What if you went for non-dog specific portable cleaner that carries its own power? You can use whatever shampoo and brush you like and have the freedom to clean your dog anywhere. The Karcher OC3 is available both in the US and UK and has positive reviews on both sites. This seems better value for money when you consider what else you can do with it, like cleaning bikes, cars, garden furniture etc.
Unlike the firm's other models, this has relatively low pressure (5 Bar), being powered by a rechargeable battery in the base rather than mains electric. This makes it perfect for cleaning dogs, and a number of reviewers bought it specifically for the job. It has the benefit of being able to take it in the car and clean muddy paws before heading home. You can even buy an in-car adapter cable to power it from your lighter socket.
It holds 4L of water and will run for 15 minutes per charge, which is enough to shampoo and rinse two dogs, according to one customer. It's a pretty compact design and the hose disappears away into the base when not in use. It scores highly with customers and the most critical review still gave it 3 out of 5 stars.
MUD DADDY & GOSPOUT 2 PORTABLE WASHERS
To clean anywhere quietly
So taking my thinking to next obvious nexus, what about a device like those above, but without the power? The Mud Daddy is one of the UK's most popular portable washing systems and is under £40. It doesn't seem to be available in the States although reviews from the US suggests it will be dispatched across the pond. The GoSpout 2 is a similar solution, although is much pricier at $120 on the .com site, but there isn't much more to choose from.
Both devices spray water after being pressurized with the pump, but the Mud Daddy seems to suffer from the brush head leaking when under pressure, so you'd have to release the cap and the pressure before putting it in your car to avoid leaks. There are some complaints about pressure dropping over time, reducing its power, which will be a poor seal at the cap or pump. This might explain the low price. But with 83% of ratings being 4 and 5 stars, most find it perfectly suitable for cleaning off dirty dogs. Afterall, you're not cleaning a driveway and you only need to wet the dog, not sandblast it clean.
The more expensive GoSpout is clearly better made, with solid metal connectors and holds nearly twice as much water as the Mud Daddy, at 2 gallons / 9 litres. The spray head is just that, and doesn't feature a brush like the Mud Daddy but, using a standard hose connector, you could purchase a number of different attachments. It's just a shame one isn't included for that price. One benefit of that black, food grade, plastic construction is that the water warms up if left in the sun, meaning a nice warm shower for your dog, or yourself if taken camping. There's only one review, giving 5 stars, so it's hard to critique, but it seems like a well-made unit that will last, if you're willing to pay the premium price.
DEXAS MUDBUSTER PORTABLE DOG PAW WASHER
To clean muddy paws
Now this is genius! Such a simple and effective little tool for cleaning muddy paws. You simply fill the MudBuster's cup with warm water and dunk your dog's paw in it, give it a twist or two, and job done. The soft, silicon bristles do the cleaning and they pop out so both parts can be cleaned in a dishwasher. Very positive reviews, except from folk who were disappointed that it left their pet's feet wet! Seriously, how do these people get themselves dressed in the morning? One valid criticism was from a tiny Pomeranian owner (the dog, that is; no idea how big the owner is), who claims even the smallest unit - there are three sizes - was too big for her little pup's pin-sized paws. The largest is suitable for the biggest of dogs.
Admittedly, a bowl of water and a soft brush will do the same job, but this is clearly a handy little accessory to keep by the back door or take in the car. Just don't forget something to dry their feet after, as water makes them wet, believe it or not!
TOBY & ALEXANDER MICROFIBRE DOG TOWEL
To dry your dog the lazy way
I remember when microfibre towels first became available and I marvelled at the voodoo that was these magic little cloths that soaked up oceans and polished any surface to a sheen. I still don't understand the science, but I know the magic works. So microfibre towels work, and these Toby & Alexander quick-drying dog bathrobes can be slipped onto a wet dog, secured with the strap, and left while they dry, reducing any wet dog smell. And let's face it, a dog in a bathrobe is a classy canine, am I right?
These are well-made and garner mostly 5 star reviews from all over the world. However, the $19.99 price to US customers may become more expensive soon, as Toby & Alexander, based in Cornwall, England, will only be shipping from the UK site soon, due to US import tax costs, so shipping to the States will become higher. Snap yours up now before the US stocks runs out!