Does your child need some cash for a school trip or a new phone? Try a twist on the classic car wash fundraiser by hosting a neighborhood dog wash! Have your child wash a few dogs and learn the value of hard work along the way.
The very first thing your child should do is set a date for the dog wash. If she’s saving up for a class trip, a scouting event or just hosting the dog wash for fun, she can ask a few friends to help. Make sure the date and time is one that they are all available for. Weekend afternoons are best, as that’s when most dog owners are off work and available
The first piece of prep she’ll need to take care of is letting people know that the dog wash is happening! A week or so before the dog wash, have her use brightly-colored poster board and markers to make signs advertising the dog wash and hang them up around the neighborhood. She can also invite her friends over to help.
On the day of the dog wash, ask all dog washers to wear old clothes, since their own clothes could get wet. Make sure it is a warm, sunny day, as dogs can get too cold if they’re soaking wet in bad weather.
Help your child hook up a garden hose outside, and make sure it reaches where you will be washing dogs. Look for a nonslip surface area such as grass or sidewalk where dogs can be washed. A friend can help hold a dog that is being washed; or use a waterproof collar and leash to tie the dog to a sturdy tree near the hose. Make sure to have small treats on hand to give to dogs that are nervous.
Prep the area: fill up a bucket with warm water from the tap. Make sure to have several towels nearby for drying the dogs, and a bottle or two of dog shampoo.
Once you’ve got your first customer, it’s time to get grooming! Have a child brush the dog first. She may want to put one cotton ball in each of the dog’s ears to help prevent water-borne ear infections in the dog (avoiding the dog’s ears is another option).
Starting at the dog’s head, your child can use the hose water mixed with warmer bucket water to wet down the dog from head to tail.
Next, your child can add dog shampoo to the dog’s head and rub it down the dog’s back. Have him build up a lather on the dog using a washcloth. Avoid the dog’s eyes and ears!
Your child can rinse the dog in the same direction (head to tail).
Stand back and let the dog shake off the excess water. A clean dog is a happy dog—or at least the dog’s owner will be happy!
When the dog wash is all done, divvy up the earnings among all participants. If they don't have plans for the money, ask them to consider donating the money to an animal shelter or other charity instead.
Beth Levin has an M.A. in Curriculum and Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She has written educational activities for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and Renaissance Learning publishers. She has a substitute teaching credential for grades K-12 in Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.