“Fact: Dogs love baths. Also fact: Dogs love vacuum cleaners. What if we, I dunno, combine the two?”
At least, I assume that’s how the product managers at Bissell first pitched the BarkBath. Then the powers that be—who must own the world's most docile dogs—approved the idea, and here we are.
Bissell calls the BarkBath a "portable dog grooming system," but it's essentially a rug shampooer for dogs: You fill it up with warm water, add the shampoo, and... vacuum Fido clean. Oh yeah—there's a lot of "priming"—essentially, spraying water at the floor to make sure it's working properly.
Billed as an alternative to “normal” dog baths, you supposedly can use the BarkBath anywhere. It vacuums up all the water, so if you want to clean your dog in the living room while watching TV, or in the dining room after Thanksgiving dinner, go for it!
As dog owners and product testers, we were naturally skeptical of Bissell's claims. Would any self respecting pooch actually put up with a vacuum bath? But then, Bissell’s own ad shows plenty of golden retrievers and labradors calmly sitting or holding still while their owners simply vacuum away the dirt and hair. Bissell has also made a name for itself as a pet-friendly company.
In the BarkBath's defense, the owner's manual does state that some dogs “don’t like the sound” of a vacuum cleaner. It also lists the steps of a whole training program for dogs that act more like scaredy cats.
Obviously we needed to test some of these claims ourselves on actual dogs, so two of our employees offered up their fur babies for the sake of science. Meet Cooper, a smaller, short-haired lab mix who is mostly indifferent to vacuum noise. He doesn’t love baths but will more or less tolerate them. Wally is a longer-haired Australian Shepherd mix who is much braver than Cooper and usually up for anything.
Was it a success? Does the BarkBath deliver on it’s promises? We’ll let Wally, Cooper and the video above speak for themselves.